Wednesday, August 15, 2018

NIO Challenges TESLA for CHINESE Market by Planning NYSE IPO

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Perhaps, to someone with a casual knowledge of consumer-use electronic cars, the first brand name to come to mind is Tesla, one of the many company brainchildren of Elon Musk. Not only is it trying its hard best to break into true mass-production with their latest Model 3 sedan, Tesla is also well established globally with their cars selling in countries like China. But they may soon have a strong local competitor over there. A Chinese e-car startup is getting ready to clash with the big boys, and it is doing it by going public over at Wall Street itself.
As CNN tells it, the Chinese-American startup NIO has filed documents this Monday, August 13, stating their intention to list their shares on the New York stock exchange. The fledgling electronic car manufacturer, which is known by the name Weilai in China, hopes to be able to raise funds up to $1.8 billion out of their shares. And they are sure to be worth the price, considering the heavyweight names that are already invested in NIO, including Chinese tech giants such as Baidu and Tencent, plus the American venture firm Sequoia Capital. The company was founded in 2014 and only began rolling out their first electric vehicles back in 2017.
One factor that gives NIO a leg up against Tesla in the potential for customers in China is the fact that they have more affordable prices. Their ES8 e-SUV for example, only costs $65,000 per unit to Chinese consumers; the Tesla equivalent, the Model X, runs around twice that much. And that is quite the deal considering that for half the Tesla price NIO asserts that they could include the same Tesla features like a car AI and a public charging system boasting a lightning-fast charge speed of three minutes.
The fact that NIO announced its going public at Wall Street was a well-calculated move to show that it has ambitions to take their brand from just the Chinese market to the international scene. Already NIO offices are up and running in one city each of the US, the UK and Germany. The company’s president Lihong Qin has plotted NIO’s general direction to target the Chinese middle class who cannot quite afford other imported electric car brands like, naturally, Tesla. While their intent to make an initial public offering is set, they have yet to specify a timeframe for it.
NIO’s ES8 electric SUV began to be delivered to Chinese customers in June last year, but at present some 17,000 more units remain on order to be fulfilled. According to its NYSE filing they only just began generating revenue from their automobile sales this year.
Image courtesy of DriveMag

FIRST LOOK at Filming for LIVE-ACTION Disney’s “MULAN” for 2020

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We know of at least four upcoming movies from Disney that are live-action adaptations of installments from their long-running Animated Canon. Next year alone there will be three films: “Dumbo”, “Aladdin” and “The Lion King”. On 2020 a live-action “Mulan” is scheduled to premiere. That film has already gotten plenty of discussion buzz from Disney fans due to it not being produced as a musical like the original, as well as the decision to change the main character’s love interest. But there has been no word on the pace of filming; at least until director Niki Caro shared a peek.
Entertainment Weekly has it that the director of the live-action “Mulan” has posted a photo from the movie set, a mere day after filming officially started on Monday, August 13. It is apparently a shot from a recreation of the scene from the 1998 animated film where Fa Mulan walks next to a pond while singing “Reflection” (vocals by Lea Salonga). In fact, that is pretty much confirmed by Niki Caro’s caption for the picture. The set looks like an artificial pond and garden with a green screen background, with Liu Yifei as Mulan standing alone, staring at the distance.

Comments about the set photo on Instagram cover a wide range of reactions. There was praise from solid Disney fans, and some surprise at this near-accurate rendition of the animated scene (as it implies that there might be a song number when the first info was that this “Mulan” movie is not a musical like last year’s “Beauty and the Beast”). There were also some complaints on the green screen, wondering if the production crew was not determined enough to find a natural spot to film at. Shooting locations for the movie have been set in China and New Zealand.
Disney looks set to create a new live-action franchise comprising adaptations of their classic animated films. The first for 2019, “Dumbo”, releases in March. “Aladdin” follows in May and “The Lion King in July”, in the same premiere fashion as the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that came out this year.
Aside from the Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei, “Mulan” also stars Yoson An as her love interest Chen Honghui (replacing Li Shang from the animation), Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Jason Scott Lee and Gong Li as the antagonists Bori Khan and his witch ally, Jimmy Wong and Doua Moua as Ling and Po (characters from the animation), Ron Yuan as Sergeant Qiang, and Jet Li as the Emperor of China. The movie is set to premiere on March 27, 2020.
Image courtesy of Variety

Fans Hyped, Disappointed with IDRIS ELBA Tweets on Playing “BOND”

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It is well known among followers of the long-running “James Bond” film franchise that the current actor, Daniel Craig, is considering perhaps only one more film project before he finally retires from the role of the suave world-saving British super-spy. It is also a prominent topic of discussion with the fandom that, among the UK-based actors being considered to take up the reins for Bond, is Golden Globe winner Idris Elba, from HBO’s “The Wire”, BBC’s “Luther”, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Thor” movies (as Heimdall). But are the rumors of Elba being courted to be the first “Black” Bond real?
According to CNN, Idris Elba has not been helpful in answering fan speculation about confirming or debunking the possibility that he might be cast as “James Bond” after Daniel Craig. The confusion started back in Sunday, when the actor posted a Twitter photo of himself, captioned with a paraphrase of Agent 007’s iconic greeting.
Before the day was out however, Elba sent a follow-up tweet to disabuse fans of the notion that he was the next James Bond. Still, for the actor to chime in on the discussion, especially soon after Bond producer Barbara Broccoli mentioned the concept of “diversifying” the main character in the franchise her father developed, only led to more rumor-mongering.
Broccoli’s comments were recorded in an article on UK newspaper The Daily Star, which stated that they were heard second-hand from American filmmaker Antoine Fuqua, who directed the Oscar-winning 2001 film “Training Day” as well as other action-packed movies like “The Replacement Killers” (1998) and “Olympus Has Fallen” (2013). Fuqua was also quoted in the Daily Star article to have voiced the possibility of Idris Elba playing James Bond. When pressed for comments by CNN however, a spokesperson for Fuqua said the comments were inaccurate.
Still, regardless of whether he has been officially approached or not, Elba did express openness to playing a black James Bond back in a 2014 CNN interview. “It would be such an honor,” he said. “I mean what do we have to do here? We have to wear beautiful suits, drive nice cars, chase bad guys and date beautiful women? I dunno, sounds good to me.” That he would be teasing the possibility lately on social media has done nothing to put the question to rest. Elba and Barbara Broccoli have yet to give an official word to the press.
Image from Daily Express UK