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Business in brief: U.S. economy had strong quarter

A sign at a Starbucks shop in Irvine, Calif., promotes the environmental documentary
A sign at a Starbucks shop in Irvine, Calif., promotes the environmental documentary "Arctic Tale." Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times / The Spokesman-Review)

The U.S. economy was even stronger than initially thought heading into the distress in financial markets in August. But economists anticipate a slowdown in the second half of the year as credit troubles weigh on consumer and business confidence and lead to a longer-than-expected housing downturn.

“Enjoy this one while you can, because it won’t last,” Richard Moody, chief economist at Mission Residential in Austin, Texas, said in a note to clients.

Gross domestic product, the broadest gauge of economic activity within U.S. borders, rose 4 percent in the second quarter at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was up from a previous estimate of 3.4 percent and was the biggest gain since the first quarter of 2006.

GDP in the first quarter was 0.6 percent, the smallest gain in more than four years.

Los Angeles

Starbucks lags in movie promotion

The polar bears of “Arctic Tale” have gotten a chilly reception in movie theaters despite Starbucks Corp.’s serving up promotional materials in thousands of stores.

The Paramount Classics documentary, co-financed by National Geographic Films, has failed to draw the crowds that flocked to other recent environmental movies such as Oscar-winners “March of the Penguins” and “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Costing less than $5 million to produce, the film has grossed roughly $600,000 domestically since its release July 25.

Although the coffee giant has broadened its reach as a cultural tastemaker through music and book sales, “Arctic Tale” is another example of the green mermaid’s golden touch failing to transfer to movies. Starbucks’ first move into film promotion, Lions Gate’s “Akeelah and the Bee,” did not live up to expectations.

“I question the company’s ability to get people into theaters,” said Jim Romenesko, an online media watchdog who also runs the blog. “When people go to Starbucks they can easily miss the movie marketing materials strewn among the clutter of items for sale.”

But Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment, said he was proud of the “Arctic Tale” campaign, noting that it was aimed at spreading a social message about the danger of global warming rather than driving ticket sales.


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