NEWSLETTER :: January 21 2011

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It Was A Good Week For…  Momentum, enjoying the number one box office hit AND the number one DVD…

It Was A Bad Week For… Standards of journalism, as the press rounded on one poor retailer again. If we were HMV, we'd be feeling a bit bullied by a vindicative press now…

The story has long been rumoured in the press, but it's now been confirmed that Amazon has acquired LOVEFiLM International. The deal sees Amazon buying up the rest of the share in the subscription entertainment retailer – it already had a significant albeit minority stake in the company. And they're no strangers either – the latter had taken over Amazon's rental business some three years ago. The acquisition covers LOVEFiLM's operations in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Amazon's vp of European retail Greg Geeley said: "LOVEFiLM has been innovating on behalf of movie rental customers across Europe for many years and with the advent of the LOVEFiLM player, they are further delighting customers by streaming digital movies for their immediate enjoyment. LOVEFiLM and Amazon have enjoyed a strong working relationship since LOVEFiLM acquired Amazon Europe's DVD rental business in 2008, and we look forward to a productive and innovative future." LOVEFiLM chief executive Simon Calver said: "The deal is a winner for the members who love LOVEFiLM because of its value, choice, convenience and innovation in home entertainment. With Amazon's unequivocal support we can significantly enhance our members' experience across Europe." No word yet on how it will manage the acquisition, which still has to go through regulatory approval.

Comfort for HMV, which has seen the entertainment business rallying behind it this week after it endured a torrid few days at the hands of a savage press that appears to have it in for the retailer. News that some insurers were refusing to give credit insurance to some entertainment suppliers because of fears over the retailer was met with the usual over-the-top reporting the retailer has come to expect in recent weeks, and its share price took another tumble. But there was respite after a group of record labels pooled their resources and penned a letter to The Times, pledging their support for the retailer. Signatories included the chiefs at Sony, Universal and Warner, among others, and they summed up what many across the entertainment sector, taking in video and games as well as music, feel about HMV. " We are each continuing to supply HMV with our music and they are continuing to do much more than sell it; their unique approach plays a vital role in breaking new artists and supporting British culture in the broadest sense. HMV is at the heart of our industry, and they have full support from each of us." HMV's Simon Fox added: "As we've been saying, we have excellent relations with our suppliers and we've had no difficulty obtaining stock from them. They clearly recognise that we play a major role at the heart of the industry - both as a core channel to market for their releases and also as an important platform for new talent. We appreciate the spontaneous nature of their actions in response to recent media speculation, and we, of course, really value their support." Our industry too was supportive of the retailer. As Disney's Anthony Peet said: "HMV and Disney have been close partners for many years, HMV plays a unique part in the home entertainment industry and it has our full support."
Good news for Momentum, which enjoyed another cracking week across theatrical and home entertainment last week, taking top slot in the box office and DVD charts and placing second in Blu-ray. The King's Speech continued its blockbusting success, by the end of the weekend it had taken more than £10 million at UK cinemas – an average of £1 million a day. What's more its second weekend performance was significantly higher than its opening three days, no mean feat in itself. The title has become a bona fide talking point – not a day passes without mention of the film in assorted newspapers, both broadsheet and tabloid, and it has also become a topic du jour on radio phone-ins and the like. Oh, and there was also the small matter of the Golden Globe the film picked up at the weekend, with Colin Firth taking home the Best Actor in a Drama gong from the awards ceremony. Momentum md Xavier Marchand said: "We are blown away by the second weekend’s box office for The King's Speech. Feedback from the cinemas suggests repeat viewing and a broadening of the audiences towards students and teens.   We’re still getting really positive reactions from cinemas and fans across the UK. The King's Speech is a British crowd pleaser." 

 And of course, there was also the latest instalment in the filmed version of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire. Like The King's Speech at cinemas, the second of the three films bucked the trend, going against perceived wisdom by selling more in its first week than its predecessor, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Momentum's Kristin Ryan said: "With week one sales up 13 per cent on Dragon Tattoo's debut week, The Girl Who Played With Fire is off to a very impressive start. Nominated this week for a Best Actress BAFTA and confirmation that she is to be the lead in Ridley Scott's Prometheus, it's clear The Girl trilogy has propelled Noomi Rapace into the acting stratosphere. Appetite for Stieg Larsson shows no signs of abating and we eagerly look forward to the release of the final part of the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked A Hornets' Nest, on release April 11."  

More from Momentum and we've this week put a couple of trailers up on our website for forthcoming titles from the company that are the polar opposite of The King's Speech. Vertigo title Wake Wood is a Hammer production that, unlike the revitalised horror brand's first outing, Let Me In, is a chiller that features the kind of setting the studio was well-known for, a very ordinary local village with a dark secret involving pagan rituals. The film will be backed with press advertising and online support. Momentum's Clare Dundrow said: "We are working closely with Hammer on this release with all key cast involved in the PR. Wake Wood is an exciting proposition as it has a real old school Hammer feel to it and is garnering great reception from the press - definitely one to watch." Also on our site, is the Evil Dead-esque Damned By Dawn, which is full-on, over-the-top horror. This too will have targeted press and online advertising. Dundrow said: "Damned By Dawn is excellent fun – a real gory horror movie. Our message to consumers is if Sam Raimi is one of your heroes you've got to see this film."

Another independent performing admirably is Optimum Releasing, which ended the year on a high with the strong performance of it horror title The Last Exorcism and, judging by the next few months, boasts a pretty impressive slate going forward. What's more, it is releasing its first ever homegrown production, an admirable achievement by a company that started releasing theatrical and DVD titles little more than a decade ago. It has unveiled an impressive slate for the second quarter of 2011 which features, from April, game to film actioner Tekken; kidnap horror Caged; Paul Hogan starring in Charlie And Boots; fantasy thriller The Door with Mads Mikkelsen; its biggest ever opening film The Tourist arriving on DVD and Bluray and it has another Steven Seagal title in Street Wars. Into May and there's current theatrical critical and audience hit Blue Valentine; Asian actioner I Saw The Devil, the eagerly-awaited Biutiful with Javier Bardem; the unbelievable comedy horror Rubber (see Trailers Of The Week below) and also its first theatrical production, Brighton Rock, due to open in cinemas in February and already earning rave reviews. June sees a Blu-ray bow for Apocalypse Now in an all-singing all-dancing version and a film already dubbed the Australian Goodfellas, Animal Kingdom. Optimum's Mikey Ellis said: "
We’re really excited about our slate this year especially in Q2 due to the huge variety and quality of the films we have, which improves every year. We are also very proud to be releasing Brighton Rock as our first production."
The impending royal wedding has offered us the opportunity to have an extra day off (it's taking place on Friday April 29 which is now a public holiday), but now, after some consideration, the BVA has decided to shift its annual awards ceremony because of the impending nuptials. The awards night was due to take place on Thursday April 28, ahead of a long weekend (the Monday, May 2, is also a bank holiday), and just after Easter. Now, however, after realising that many within the industry were planning "an extended break", the BVA has shifted the date to the following Thursday May 5. BVA director general Lavinia Carey said: "We have chosen the new date in order to ensure that as many people as possible can attend our awards ceremony. This date seems to be better for everyone. We are delighted that our compere Simon Evans can also make the new date and that he will be hosting the evening as previously planned."

Meanwhile, the impending Royal Wedding gave Paramount and agency Eulogy the chance to publicise the major's release this week of Steve Carell comedy Dinner For Schmucks. The film features Carell and his collection of stuffed mice and, as a stunt for the release, a taxidermist created stuffed mice versions of Prince William and his bride to be, complete with a miniature copy of the film. It was part of a campaign that also saw assorted journalists from The Guardian, FHM and Geek visiting a taxidermist and learning how to stuff animals. No, really. For more, see our website,
Also on our website this week: loads of trailers, our weekly round up of the week's DVD reviews and lots more. Our big 2010/2011 feature will be going live over the weekend, so it's your final chance to be involved, just fill in the following…
Favourite three releases of the year:
Highlights of 2010:
Lowpoint of 2010:
Event of the year:
Biggest challenge in 2011:
What I'm looking forward to in 2011:
Answers to Results on the website soon…

This Saturday sees Danish TV series The Killing beginning a prime time run on BBC4, with two episodes screening every week through until the end of March and, ahead of transmission, the ever-busy Arrow label has announced that it has picked up the rights for UK release. The ground-breaking, award-winning programme follows a murder case, with each episode tracking one day of the investigation. It is being remade for American TV and has won plaudits around the world. Arrow plans to release the entire series on April 4 and new head of acquisitions Tom Stewart, who inked the deal, said: "We’re absolutely thrilled to be distributing this truly top-drawer thriller to the UK and Eire home entertainment market and digital space. The Killing represents one of the best high concept thrillers produced in a long time. It takes the viewer on a real journey, each episode a day in the murder investigation and each episode ending on a cliffhanger. You are gripped by the twisted storyline, the superb acting and the character depth, this is drama unparalleled. We hope to have a long and fruitful relationship with our partners from ZDF Enterprises." ZDF sales manager Stefanie Fischer added: "I am pleased to see that this extraordinary series will now be made available to the audiences in UK and Eire on television, home video and other platforms. The Killing has already intrigued audiences around the globe and we are convinced that it will see the same success in UK and Eire."

To the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, where thriving independent operator Kaleidoscope hosted a screening and Q&A for its Rise, Ride, Roar, a film focusing on the wonderful former Talking Head David Byrne and his most recent live excursions. Byrne, of course, was in the daddy of all live concert releases, Stop Making Sense, and this film is a worthy successor to that title. He was over this week for last night's event and did a bunch of interviews and appearances for the theatrical release and its eventual home entertainment outing scheduled for later this year. Kaleidoscope's Adam Sergeant said: " The live Q&A was extremely successful. David had the audience hanging on every word and everyone we spoke to was thrilled with the event. Being broadcast to more than 50 cinemas nationwide, it’s not only been a fun night, but has provided fantastic pre-awareness for the DVD and BD release, coming May 30."

We've long been fans of wonderful British writer Jack Rosenthal and it's great to see some of his finest works finally getting a much deserved DVD release. The playwright's works at the BBC, including the Jewish coming of age tale Bar Mitzvah Boy, as well as the sorry saga of pools winner Viv Nicholson, Spend Spend Spend, are included in the five-disc set, Jack Rosenthal At The BBC, due from Acorn Media on April 4. Rosenthal's wife, Maureen Lipman, will be supporting the release by talking about her late husband in assorted press and TV interviews currently being lined up. Acorn's Paul Holland said: "This collection includes the very best work from one of the UK’s foremost and most loved playwrights. We are delighted to have both the opportunity to release these plays and also to work so closely with his wife, Maureen Lipman, in promoting what we know is going to be a very successful boxed set." Acorn also said the release of these five plays, three of which won BAFTA awards, is being heralded by a special fundraising screening of Bar Mitzvah Boy, which will also include a Q&A with Maureen Lipman.

And lastly good to see a new label arriving on the block. Exile Media is a company planning to release around 10 films a year as well as funding productions. Around 70 per cent of its slate will be made up of acquisitions, the rest will be its own productions. Its first release, gritty British drama Zebra Crossing gets a platform theatrical release on January 28 ahead of its DVD bow three days later. Exile's first production, Suicide Kids, starring, among others, Ashley Walters, is currently in post-production. UK marketing and publicity is being handled by Organic Marketing. Exile's Jo Podmore said: "With Suicide Kids now in post-production and already creating a lot of buzz, and the campaign building to the release of the award-winning Zebra Crossing, 2011 is going to be an exciting year for Exile Media Group. We are looking forward to backing more new, edgy ground-breaking films and exciting British talent over the coming years.”

It's one of Anchor Bay's biggest theatrical bows, and, two weeks after its theatrical bow (this Friday), the remake of I Spit On Your Grave makes its home entertainment debut. The title has already garnered plenty of coverage, with its release sparking a debate about the morals of the film (see this feature on The Guardian's website for more The release is, said Anchor Bay, the culmination of six months' worth of promotion that kicked off with a controversial screening at FrightFest. Anchor Bay's Thom Leaman said: "From the moment we first sat down in our boardroom and watched it we all realised two things – a) it was a thought provoking and brilliantly crafted slice of societal horror and b) it was going to cause us a fair amount of trouble." Much of the initial work concentrated on making the film a talking point, which has proved successful. Leaman continued: " he bulk of the campaign as we get closer to release has been focused on broadening the film’s reach to those who may be aware of the title either via the notorious original, or via the hype surrounding this film – to which end we’ve got a very heavy TV campaign hitting as wide a market as possible. We’ve also been working with retailers on exclusive SKUs and tailoring different SKUs to specific demos. We’ve not forgotten the hardcore horror fans either who are the lifeblood behind these sort of releases. We’ve involved them every step of the way and even offered them the chance to vote on the sleeve art."


So, it was another week dominated by The King's Speech, which is a phenomenon in its own right. The only other new entry in the top 10 was SPHE's The Green Hornet, which took almost £1.9 million on its bow.  

So, after the fallout out from this week's Golden Globes, which has seen rumour and counter-rumour about his appearance as host, Ricky Gervais has got another, far gentler gig on the way. He will be making a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo appearance in the American version of the show that propelled him to fame, The Office. He will appear alongside Steve Carell's Michael Scott in an episode due to be aired in the US next week. Carell and Gervais have an ongoing gag about the latter riding on the former's coat-tails, one that was reprised at this week's Golden Globes (and seemingly misinterpreted by many in the UK press who called Gervais' appearance a failure).

More from Gervais' Hollywood pals, and it looks as if two of the most offended stars who under Gervais' glare are being linked in more ways than one. For it's now being rumoured that Johnny Depp is being lined up to replace Robert Downey Jr as the Wizard in Disney's new take on the world of Oz made famous by the 1939 film. Oz, The Great And Powerful is due to start filming next year, and if Depp does replace Downey, who is no longer attached, it will be the third big Disney blockbuster he is involved in, after the next tale in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise and The Lone Ranger.

Stories you should have picked up on this week: Well, the big remake news is that Lethal Weapon could return to our screens, albeit without Mel Gibson (you'd have thought that after his recent issues, he'd have more knowledge of the workings of the LAPD than ever before). Other remakes or reboots due from Warner in the future could even include new takes on The Wild Bunch, The Dirty Dozen and Westworld… Also from Warner, Anne Hathaway has been cast as Catwoman in the next Batman tale, and it's been confirmed that Tom Hardy will take on the role of the superhero's enemy in the next film, The Dark Knight Rises.

What better way to follow the Golden Globes than via Twitter. Which meant we could go to bed, get up and catch up with all the news bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Follow The Raygun, where we meticulously log every film we watch, at

Look, it's not strictly DVD-related, but what the heck, we loved this Mafia name generator and it will give you minutes of enjoyment. Yours, Fabrizio Moonshine…

If this doesn't make you want to see the film, then there's something wrong with you… (Not for the easily shocked, this is X-rated stuff…)
Second trailer for the new version of an old tale:

It's short and sweet, but it's a new trailer for Cars 2:

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