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From Godzilla To King Kong, Our Fascination For The Giant Monsters Never Ends

The Fascination For The Giant Monsters Never Ends

Every time a Godzilla movie is premiered, we hear one comment repeatedly: we don’t want to see humans talking about government conspiracies and family problems, we want to see monsters bashing each other and destroying cities. If viewers had a remote control, some would fast-forward through Millie Bobby Brown or Bryan Cranston discussing internal conflicts as if they were performing in a Shakespeare play at the end of the world. Indeed, in the three-minute trailer for Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, people occupied barely 20 seconds. It showed the giant gorilla carrying a huge axe and riding on the back of the kaiju (a giant monster in Japan) to fight together. The movie’s viewpoint belongs to the monsters. They certainly know what their audience wants.

If moviegoers pack an IMAX (image maximum) cinema, it will be to see the monster spray violet rays, buildings collapsing and bridges under siege. Even if they are more familiar with San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge crumbling in ruins rather than standing upright. Charlton Heston endured the destruction of such an iconic landmark at the end of Planet of the Apes, but the chaos in recognizable cities like New York makes for a warm and happy place for the audience, as opposed to the reality of Ukraine and Gaza. That grandiloquence where everything tumbles down is one more reason not to watch the film at home. The fake apocalypse with computerized monsters and ever greater visual effects guarantees a collective experience in cinemas. This is paramount for studios struggling to get their blockbusters onto high-end screens, which are more expensive and therefore inflate box-office figures.

The end scene of ‘Planet of the Apes.'
The end scene of ‘Planet of the Apes.’

However, destruction is nothing new in Hollywood. “There were catastrophe films in silent cinema. It had a boom in the thirties, its heyday in the seventies and a resurgence in the nineties. Nowadays, they never stop,” remembers Sintu Amat, author of the book Disaster Movies. “Whether there are wars or not, we’ll always be attracted to destruction and chaos. Although we may be convinced that it won’t happen in the near future, we like to fantasize about visualizing it and enjoy it. We have a dark side when it comes to catastrophic issues. These are stories that put normal characters in extreme situations with which we can identify ourselves,” he adds. Sigmund Freud called repetition compulsion the impulse to replicate painful situations that drive us to control our imagination and thereby cope with our fears, while finding comfort.

Amat points to classics such as San Francisco (1936), Green Dolphin Street (1947), The Naked Jungle (1954) and The Devil at 4 O’Clock (1961), and he explains that their “plots, characters and brilliant dialogues” stand out. “Their catastrophes helped resolve the plots and determine the fate of the main characters.” He points out that special effects have improved and technology has made them more striking and easier to produce, although this may be to the detriment of other qualities.

This selling-point of spectacularity has a prosaic aspect in human psychology and is also an economic driver. In 2023, IMAX cinemas broke records by grossing more than $1 billion, with all-time high revenues in 54 countries. Their ticket sales were up 24.4% largely because of Oppenheimer, which is about the creation of the atomic bomb that spawned Godzilla as a nuclear metaphor in 1954. The much more introspective Godzilla Minus One was the hottest IMAX release in Japanese movie history.

Everyone in Hollywood is battling for these cinemas, including Tom Cruise, who was frustrated that Mission: Impossible was unable to take advantage of so many giant screens because of Oppenheimer.

The CEO of IMAX had to step in to mediate: “I feel sad, but Nolan has a special place in IMAX’s heart.” In January, Warner, in an effort to coordinate all its pieces, moved the battle between King Kong and Godzilla (filmed using their technology) two weeks earlier to take over from Dune: Part Two and avoid having to share IMAX theaters with Civil War, Alex Garland’s (Ex-Machina) political post-apocalypse, whose poster shows the golden flame of the Statue of Liberty turned into a bunker amidst the destruction.

The demolition of an architectural symbol is an established cliché. The creators of The Towering Inferno (1974) and Independence Day (1996), which featured one of the most famous shots of the White House, obliterated by a laser from space, were well aware of this notion. Two years later, the film’s director, Roland Emmerich, shot Godzilla. They also had this in mind when a huge octopus scaled the Golden Gate Bridge in It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) and when Michael Bay, an expert in destruction, devastated New York’s Grand Central in Armageddon (1999). This time, Kong and Godzilla adopt Napoleon’s legacy and attempt to conquer the pyramids of Egypt, just as the film Team America: World Police predicted in its parody of America’s passion for destroying movie icons. Along the way, they stamp through Cadiz and Gibraltar without a care in the world.

Cinemas are also still showing Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, a saga that echoes the same glacial theme and opens the doors of the Empire State Building to its monsters as it did in 1984, although the Marshmallow Man did not cause quite as much terror. Almost as little as Sharknado, which was the delight of the lowbrow cinema in six TV movies. On the positive side, from the golden age of catastrophes, Sintu Amat highlights Earthquake (1974) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972), as well as Dante’s Peak (1997), the Norwegian film The Wave (2015) and Contagion (2011), which predated Covid-19.

The destruction of the White House in Roland Emmerich’s film ‘Independence Day.'
The destruction of the White House in Roland Emmerich’s film ‘Independence Day.’

In an international context, some directors have made the most of the opportunity to stamp their style on the genre of raging monsters and destruction. Guillermo del Toro pitted robots against monsters in Pacific Rim; Nacho Vigalondo spun it into a toxic, city-destroying love story in Colossal; Marc Forster besieged capital cities with zombies in World War Z (David Fincher wanted to make the sequel but it never took off), and Bong Jon-hoo created one of the iconic works of the modern kaiju genre in The Host. Some succeeded in making humans interesting as well, like Shin Godzilla masterfully did, by modernizing truisms in a bureaucratic reinvention that had as much of The West Wing as of kaiju. Although it was inspired by the Fukushima disaster, today it has another interpretation after seeing how governments have dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic. Sometimes unreality is best grasped through exaggeration.

Even if audiences don’t want to see humans, the Godzilla/Kong Monsterverse has brought together John Goodman, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Kurt Russell, Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall in its four movies and two series. And Hollywood’s greatest sagas keep calling the red phone when faced with monkey and amphibian assaults. In May, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will be staging its tenth movie battle. The Jurassic Park franchise will now be heading to the city with Jurassic City, where the dinosaurs attempt to bring something new to a disaster we’ve seen hundreds of times before. The meteorites of Greenland and the tornadoes of Twisters will also be back.

An image from ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ of a devastated New York City.
An image from ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ of a devastated New York City. Sony pictures

When climate change and wars push us closer to destruction, there is some comfort in non-reality. “We’re all concerned about the future of the planet and the human species,” concludes Amat. If Godzilla and Kong fail to deliver on their tale of unity in the face of phenomena to our true battles, it will be the moment to duck and replicate Charlton Heston by shouting out: “You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”

Culture

Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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— By Darren Wilson, Team VoiceOfEU.com

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