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Movie theaters eye summer box office rebound

The biggest test for moviegoer appetite since the pandemic is coming — and it's make-or-break for theaters trying to salvage their annihilated businesses.

Why it matters: The world is reopening and restrictions are rolling back. But the pandemic ushered in a new era for how studios release films that could stick around.

The summer box office kicks off with "A Quiet Place Part II" — out next Friday.

  • Yes, but: It'll be on streaming platform Paramount+ just 45 days later, half as much time as the typical exclusive theater release.

Catch up quick: Big films are landing on streaming services as they debut in theaters, or shortly thereafter. It's delivered a massive blow to theaters trying to lure back moviegoers who can just watch from their couches.

  • "What happens this summer will help studios decide how they're going to act later in the year, and especially around the holidays," Wedbush's Alicia Reese tells Axios.

What they're saying: "It's always frustrating when you don't have control over your product," Shelli Taylor, CEO of movie theater chain Alamo Drafthouse, said on today's episode of the Axios Re:Cap podcast.

  • "The situation for theaters ... is that we don't have control."

Of note: Alamo Drafthouse filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

  • Helped by the new obsession with AMC's stock (thanks to r/WallStreetBets), the theater chain has enough cash "to see them through to the return of attendance," says Reese.

Signs of life: The April box office hit $190 million, up 300% since February, the New York Times reports.

  • In the same month in 2019, the box office brought in $1 billion.

GM boosts investment in electric, autonomous vehicles by $8 billion

General Motors plans to boost its cumulative investment in electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion from 2020-2025, a significant jump from a $27 billion target.

Driving the news: GM said this morning that the initiative will include building two new battery cell manufacturing plants in addition to the two already under construction in Tennessee and Ohio.

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Biden administration buys 200 million additional doses of Moderna’s COVID vaccine

The Biden administration has purchased an additional 200 million doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, the biotech company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Moderna says the additional doses could be used to vaccinate children or — if necessary — as a booster shot.

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Live updates: Biden and Putin land in Geneva ahead of summit

President Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for five hours of talks on Wednesday, a highly anticipated summit that comes as both sides say U.S.-Russia relations have sunk to a new post-Cold War low.

The latest: Putin arrived in Geneva shortly before 7 a.m. ET and traveled via motorcade to Villa La Grange, a mansion set in a 75-acre park overlooking Lake Geneva. Biden arrived at around 7:20 a.m. ET. The two leaders are expected to take a photo with Swiss President Guy Parmelin before the meeting begins.

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Biden-Putin summit: What to expect when you're not expecting much

After a bitter blast from Putin and tough talk from Biden, both sides agree: Don't count on much from Wednesday's summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What they're saying: "We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting," a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Air Force One from Brussels to Geneva. "No breaking of bread."

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Florida's early reopening could make it a business travel mecca

As post-pandemic business travel comes back, experts say Florida's reopening policies should allow it to lock in a significant share of returning corporate events and meetings.

Why it matters: There's a lot of money to be made — with a lot of people itching to travel — after the sector lost $97 billion in spending last year, according to a new Tourism Economics analysis by the U.S. Travel Association.

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There isn’t a worker shortage in the U.S. — there’s been a worker awakening

Many politicians, pundits and business owners have said pandemic-era enhanced unemployment benefits are keeping would-be workers at home. But that's a much too simplistic explanation of today's employment situation.

The big picture: Many hard-hit sectors are rebounding faster than anecdotal evidence would suggest. And when jobs are hard to fill, a broader worker awakening over the past year is part of the reason.

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Biden's surprise pick for FTC chair, a leading tech critic, is already rocking boats

By naming tech critic Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday, the White House made clear it is dead serious about antitrust enforcement and other measures to rein in Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

The intrigue: By naming Khan FTC chair just hours after the Senate confirmed her appointment as one of five commissioners at the agency, the White House took both the industry and many D.C. insiders by surprise.

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MedPAC says higher prices drove up Medicare drug spending

The amount Medicare spent on drugs that are dispensed at pharmacies increased 26% from 2013 through 2018, members of the Medicare Advisory Payment Commission wrote in their new annual report.

Why it matters: MedPAC members put the spotlight on pharmaceutical companies, attributing "nearly all of the growth ... to higher prices rather than an increase in the number of prescriptions filled by beneficiaries."

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