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‘Solarbration’ for eclipse tourists on the ground as air passengers crane for views

Planet Business: Toy films in development, a new chairman at UK air traffic control company Nats and a break in Olympic tradition

Image of the week: Eclipse tourism

A warning to start: “Solarbration” is a portmanteau of solar and celebration that should never be directly looked at without adequate eye protection.

In a total eclipse of multiple bank balances, millions of North Americans travelled hours to “solarbrate” this week, flocking to the “path of totality” to experience the moment when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, blocking out the light from the star. It’s a bit like when someone stands in front of you at a gig, only the plunge into darkness doesn’t last quite as long.

But while eclipse parties sound like fun for anyone who doesn’t mind looking like they have joined a cult, eclipse flights are a whole other folly. Several flights operated by US airlines, including Delta and Southwest, made a fuss out of the experience of being 35,000ft up when the eclipse was happening, with Southwest serving “cosmic cocktails” and at least one Delta flight promising “special manoeuvres” so everyone could get a good view.

In theory, it was a way to get above clouds that might spoil the experience for people on the ground and also extend the experience for longer than people watching from 35,000ft below. Alas, in classic “you didn’t think this through, did you?” fashion, the sun was still stubbornly positioned above the aircraft, prompting much craning out of tiny windows.


In numbers: Olympic spirit


Prize-money for gold medal winners competing in the 48 athletics events at this summer’s Olympic Games, following a move by World Athletics to break with Olympic tradition. It has become the first sport to guarantee such a prize.


Prize-money for silver- and bronze-winning athletes in Paris, but World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said the plan was to introduce monetary reward for these positions from Los Angeles 2028.


Sum that each member of a gold-winning relay team will receive, as they will share the $50,000 prize – just a bit of extra pressure not to drop the baton.

Getting to know: Warren East

Nats, the public-private partnership company that controls UK air traffic control systems, did not exactly manifest as the Rolls-Royce of air traffic service providers last August when a technical failure prompted the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights and cost airlines an estimated €116 million.

This led International Air Transport Association boss Willie Walsh to dub the outage “staggering”, while Ryanair accused Nats of “lamentable incompetence”, with Michael O’Leary calling for its chief executive Martin Rolfe to resign or be sacked.

O’Leary hasn’t got his way as Rolfe is still in situ, but Nats does have a new chairman: Warren East, the former boss of engine maker Rolls-Royce and chip designer Arm. East is now charged with overseeing the modernisation of British airspace over the coming years, with Nats in the process of upgrading various systems that will apparently make flying more efficient. Being named after a direction of travel seems a good start.

The list: Toy films

Hollywood power-player Margot Robbie is to produce a film based on Hasbro board game Monopoly through her company LuckyChap, it was announced on Wednesday. But which other toys and games might – just might – be deployed in bids to emulate Barbie’s blockbuster success?

1. Polly Pocket: Lena Dunham is directing this story of a friendship between a girl and the “pocket-sized” woman who was big in the 1990s. Lily Collins will star.

2. Uno: Mattel’s addictive card game is a source of competitive joy, but how does that translate into box office glory? It seems no one has cracked it yet, as talk of a film appears to have died down for now.

3. Magic 8 Ball: Another Mattel property is set to become the centre of a horror comedy from Cocaine Bear writer Jimmy Warden. Will it be any good? Reply hazy, try again.

4. Clue: A film based on the Hasbro murder mystery board game – known outside North America as Cluedo – was mooted recently because apparently there are people who think they can top the 1985 comedy of the same name.

5. Barbie 2: Greta Gerwig has said she is open to a sequel if she can find an “undertow” for the film, while Warner Bros chief executive Pam Abdy says she would “love” to do one. With Barbie taking a worldwide box office of $1.5 billion (€1.4 billion), the maths seem pretty clear.

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