The Minecraft sandbox just got a whole lot bigger.
This summer, one of the most popular games in the world may be coming to a movie theater near you. But you can play only if you’re between the ages of 7 and 17.
With over 100 million registered users, there is nothing virtual about Minecraft’s success. Microsoft paid $2.5 billion to purchase the game and its developer, Mojang, last year. This summer, startup Super League Gaming is giving young fans a chance to play the game in movie theaters. SLG has partnered with four major movie theater chains—Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Theatres, Cinemark Theatres and iPic Theaters—to bring the shared experience of a 100-minute Minecraft game to thousands of kids in 25 cities at more than 80 theaters.
For theater owners, it’s an attractive way to generate more revenue. They can sell more seats and they get to keep a larger percentage of the gross from league ticket sales than from movie ticket sales. With overall box office receipts in decline, theater owners are searching for new ways to fill theater seats. The summer of 2014 was the worst summer for movies since 1997, with a 15 percent decline of $3.9 billion from 2013. With the $204 billion opening of Jurassic World in June, theater owners are cautiously optimistic for 2015.
SLG president and co-founder Brett Morris told Fortune that “theaters want to be a destination for all entertainment, and there’s not a better next-gen entertainment option than gaming.” The summer games series taps into the kids who already spend hours playing Minecraft and watching Minecraft YouTube videos online.
After purchasing tickets online for $20 each, gamers will bring their own fully-charged laptops (which must be already loaded with Minecraft version 1.8 or above) to the movie theater. Once there, they can form teams and play the game in small groups on their laptops. They also can watch the entire playing field on the movie screen as teams play in real time.
For the kids, it’s a way to socialize—and strategize. Kids can be as loud as they want, compare builds, grab snacks, and move around inside the theater.
Plans for a fall league are already under way, with 150 theaters in 18 states signed up to participate. Each six-week league session costs $120, with gamers playing once a week. SLG is also going international, with gaming events in China and Canada.
Everyone else will have to wait for Minecraft, the movie, which is currently in development at Warner Bros.
The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
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That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”