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Drive-in theaters fueled Hollywood’s box office last year. They could be here to stay

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During a pandemic that upended lives, broke routines, and mothballed most forms of in-person activities, a funny thing happened in the entertainment business: The drive-in theater saved the cinema. But while it might have been dismissed as another anomaly in a year full of unusual economic blips, the renewed interest in drive-in theaters looks like it’s here to stay.

Last year, from late-March through mid-August, drive-ins generated 85% of North American box office revenue (and some weeks contributed north of 95%), according to Comscore data provided to CNN Business. During that same period in 2019, drive-ins accounted for just 2.9% of box office revenue.

And although films and people have started to return to brick-and-mortar cinemas (albeit at far lower levels than before), drive-ins are showing that they have staying power. Through the first 30 weeks of 2021, they’re still gobbling up a greater share of box office revenue than they did pre-pandemic: averaging 6.2% of weekend box office dollars this year versus nearly 1.9% for the first 30 weeks of 2019, Comscore data show.

“Naturally, the attributes of the multiplex did not work well within the confines of the pandemic, but consumers hungry to get out of the house found the drive-in to be the perfect solution to a question that no one had even thought to ask just a year before,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore, which tracks global box office data.

“The old-fashioned and often marginalized drive-in theater must now be recognized as one of the saviors of the [cinema] industry,” he said.

There are indications that the added exposure jumpstarted an outdoor cinema rally: Long-forsaken drive-ins are being dusted off and spruced up; pop-ups are proliferating in cities; the concept is gaining momentum overseas; and new takes on the classic are launching.

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‘Google’ is most searched word on Bing, Google says

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The top entry on Microsoft’s Bing search engine is for its rival Google, Google has said.

The claim was made in court, as Google made its case to appeal against a €4.3bn ($5bn) fine from the European Union for abusing its market power.

The EU accused Google of using Android’s success in the smartphone market to make Google the default search engine.

But Google says its service is simply the most popular.

“We have submitted evidence showing that the most common search query on Bing is, by far, ‘Google’,” lawyer Alfonso Lamadrid told the EU General Court, as first reported by Bloomberg. “People use Google because they choose to, not because they are forced to.

“Google’s market share in general search is consistent with consumer surveys showing that 95% of users prefer Google to rival search engines.”

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Rapid house price growth continues in September

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Annual house price growth of 10% or more has been recorded for each of the past five months, according to data from the Nationwide.

The UK’s largest building society said that prices in September were up 10% compared with a year earlier, a slight slowdown from 11% in August.

The double-digit rise was driven by recent activity in Wales and Northern Ireland, the lender said, with London still seeing the slowest growth.

The typical home now costs £248,742.

Rapidly rising house prices continues to create financial problems for potential first-time buyers, despite record low mortgage rates being offered by lenders.

A recent report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that people in tourist hotspots – which have become increasingly popular for relocating buyers – were at risk of being priced out of buying a home in the areas where they worked.

Nationwide bases its house price estimates on its mortgage data, and Robert Gardner, the building society’s chief economist, said that property values had continued to rise more quickly than earnings, which meant affordability was becoming more stretched.

“Raising a deposit remains the main barrier for most prospective first-time buyers. A 20% deposit on a typical first-time buyer home is now around 113% of gross income – a record high,” he said.

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Fuel diverted from large firms to forecourts in UK to ease crisis

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Fuel is being diverted from large firms in the UK to garage forecourts in a move that could threaten to disrupt online deliveries, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

UK government officials have instructed executives running Britain’s network of fuel terminals to send tankers heading for large companies to garages and service stations instead, the newspaper said https://bit.ly/3kSWTL6, citing industry sources.

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