AVATAR UPDATE, RECORDS SMASHED
ICON THINKS OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
AND YET MORE AWARDS
QUEEN SETS SAIL AGAIN
FACE OFF AND OUT
BLUE VERSUS RED
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
AT THE MOVIES
TWEET OF THE WEEK
EVENTS OF THE WEEK
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
COMING SOON ON DVD AND AT CINEMAS
It Was A Good Week For... Avatar, come on, what else were we going to say? Absolutely everywhere and, better still, driving Blu-ray. Oh, and congratulations to all the BVA award winners too...
It Was A Bad Week For... The people who didn't make money from Avatar thanks to heavy discounting. (As an aside, we stood outside the BVA awards with a couple of them, frantically checking price comparison websites and despairing...). And commiserations to those nominated at the BVAs who didn't pick anything up...
So, it's Avatar week, in case, by some strange fluke, you hadn't noticed and Fox's release has been flying off the shelves amid a raft of activity and a slew of slashings, as it were, as retailers fought to outdo themselves in who could go the lowest. There were numerous offers around, involving basket spend (lowest of which was Morrisons £5 for Avatar for every £50 spent), while the lowest overall seemed to go to Asda, with £8. Meanwhile the title itself, aided by Fox's event marketing, flew off the shelves at stores and online, where it repeated its performance in the US (the title was released at the end of last week in the States). It smashed previous records and became the bestselling day one Blu-ray release with sales in its first 24 hours outstripping that of the first week of the previous record holder, The Dark Knight. Fox senior vp for Northern Europe and Asia, Steven Leighton said: " The incredible day one sales figures illustrate the urgency that fans of all ages have to return to the world of Pandora and more significantly, experience Pandora in high-definition. The film’s masterful cinematography, art direction and visual effects lends itself to awe-inspiring clarity when viewed on Blu-ray – undeniably, the ultimate format for fans to enjoy Avatar at home." HMV's Rudy Osorio added: "We’re seeing a huge uptake on the Blu-ray format as fans look to enjoy the film at home in the highest definition possible. The release of Avatar on DVD and Blu-ray is proving a landmark event for our whole industry."
And before we get into the BVA awards proper, it's worth looking at another title that has been performing well on Blu-ray. Icon was celebrating this week after seeing a strong split towards Blu-ray for The Box, released under the company's initiative of price parity between DVD and BD on frontline new releases. Almost one in three copies of The Box sold were on Blu-ray and it helped Icon to the biggest mix of Blu-ray last week among distributors. Icon's said Ian Dawson said: "We felt the format needed a shot in the arm and have been delighted with the initial results we have seen, with all forthcoming titles showing significant upside in Internet pre-orders and retail results last week have been positive across the board."
Meanwhile there's loads of follow up material to last week's BVA Awards – a pretty good night was had by most and we at The Raygun had a belter thanks to our pals at Lipsync – as we've been chatting to and receiving official statements from a number of the happy winners.
Biggest retail winner was HMV, which after walking away empty-handed from last year's event when it came to some of the big prizes, pickedup bricks and mortar retailer, Blu-ray retailer and retailer marketing initiative. HMV's Andy Anderson said: "It was a great night. We're really pleased, it's a measure of the hard work we've put in over the last year, not just at head office, but across the stores too. We're passionate about what we sell and what we do at both levels, and it's great to get an award that recognises that."
HMV also this week released its trading update for the year end April 24 and the four months up to that. Over the year, total group sales were up 1.4 per cent (a hefty 7.2 per cent at HMV UK and Ireland International), although like for like sales at the group were down 4.3 per cent (2.4 per cent at HMV UK and Ireland). The four month period up to April 24 was, the update said, hampered by comparatives form the previous two years beong so strong, a reduced level of campaign activity and the bad weather at the start of the year. Total group sales in that 16 week period were down 7.3 per cent and like for like sales down a touch over 10 per cent.
Meanwhile, back to the BVAs and an awards ceremony wouldn't be an awards ceremony without Revolver picking a gong up for its marketing nous and this year was no different. The company won the marketing initiative of the year non-theatrical for City Rats, deservedly so, many said, given that it sold a heck of a lot for a release that was somewhere between a Danny Dyer film and an arthouse flick. Revolver's Justin Marciano said: "We have the flexibility to constantly change our approach to the way in which we take films to the market. And it's a real honour to be recognised for taking those risks. Recognition like this for marketing campaigns is also important in that it puts a very necessary focus on the ways in which the sector is having to rethink its approach to selling films now."
Perhaps the most eyebrows were raised at ITV Studios' gong for Late Night With The Loose Women in the marketing initiative of the year for television category. ITV Studios product manager Richard Bernard said: "I'm delighted to win this award, the first for ITV Studios Home Entertainment in five years. To be recognised by the industry serves as a superb testament to the great marketing campaign which involved a good number of ITV departments and ITV platforms to deliver our communication to the consumer and resulted in excellent sales of the Late Night With The Loose Women DVD."
Universal picked up a brace of awards for marketing initiative music (The Nolans) and marketing initiative specialist (Michael McIntyre). As md Ian foster noted: "We are delighted with the awards that we won, for Michael McIntyre and the Nolans, which once again demonstrated the tremendous variety of content and talent that we love working with."
Agency of the year award went to Hicksville, which also shared one with Sony for the creative initiative of the year for their work on Terminator Salvation's outdoor campaign that saw, among other things, a specially animated T-600 terminator "walking" up digital screens on the underground. Hicksville's Rennie Mitchell hailed his agency's achievement, saying: "We're not a big agency and we're pretty young as well, so it's a really big deal for us to reach this stage in under five years." He added that the Terminator work, developed on spec, was "a long shot, but it happened".
Elsewhere, another company celebrating was Metropolis, which picked up Best British Authored Blu-ray alongside Polydor/Universal Music for Take That Present The Circus Live. Metropolis head of digital Richard Osborn said: "In keeping with the technical and aesthetic quality of the show, we strove to create design which reflected the sheer spectacle of this event. The menus showcase the Circus theme by using screen projections from the show itself blended with elements made specifically for the disc. We wanted the viewer to immediately glean a sense of both the group and the expansive concert troupe before they have even begun to watch the performance itself."
More awards news, but this time an all together different tale from the Focal awards. That name may not resonate as much as the BVAs, but they are given to the archive industry for the best use of footage in film and television and were held in London this week. Our correspondent Neil Bottrill from Brickbox Digital Media was in attendance and reported that it was something of an "old school" event, hosted by David Puttnam. Anyway, the gong for best archive restoration went to The Red Shoes, a project our own ITV Studios were involved in, for the theatrical and home entertainment restoration last year. And who picked up the award in person? None other than Martin Scorsese, a devotee of the film who was personally involved in the project and stepped "out of nowhere" to collect. In Bottrill's on words: "Unbelievable."
Buoyed by that success, ITV Studios has announced its next major restoration project due on DVD and Blu-ray on June 14. The African Queen, the Bogart/Hepburn classic directed by John Huston will, like The Red Shoes, be unveiled at the Cannes film festival in a prestigious screening weeks ahead of its UK home entertainment release. The Restoration Edition has been some six years in the making. ITV Studios' Kate Walker said: "Following last year's terrific restoration release The Red Shoes we are delighted to be spotlighting The African Queen this June. The film has been meticulously restored and film fans will have the chance to re-discover it on Blu-ray or DVD. ITV Studios owns a vast classic film library that we are hugely proud of and which garners great interest from many filmmakers. This year Anjelica Huston will be helping us to promote the release which is really exciting news and should generate a great deal of noise to highlight this much loved film.”
Also on the restoration trail, The Raygun went off to authoring house Eyeframe's Soho HQ for a sneak preview of its restoration work on Fremantle's The World At War. Created with Blu-ray and high definition broadcast in mind, the newly restored and sumptuous looking version will also benefit from a DVD reissue in its new look alongside the BD in September. The painstakingly complex and detaled process has been almost 18 months in the works so far and still hasn't been completed yet. Arguably Eyeframe's most ambitious project so far, it looks incredible, from the weighty menu screens to the lovingly restored footage, which has cleared up literally tens of thousands of imperfections in the clips taken from the Second World War (and before) and originally screened as part of the 26 episode series in the 1970s. Fremantle's Pete Kalhan said: "As well as looking to acquire new content we will continue to maximise the opportunity new formats present for the incredible FME library. World At War is an outstanding award winning documentary series and will be the first in a number of library titles released on BD... and who knows, 3D?"
And speaking of Brickbox, as we were a few paragraphs ago, it's interesting to see that the company has acquired a "significant stake" in the LA and Sofia-based International Digital Management and sees it further growing its international influence, especially with its move into the US. It means the ever-growing Brickbox now has offices in London as well as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary alongside its central operation in Prague.
To London's Hammersmith Apollo where Rhod Gilbert was on stage ahead of the release of his sophomore DVD, provisionally entitled The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst. Gilbert's 2009 release was the year's fastest selling debut comedy title, so his next, due out in November this year, is well worth keeping an eye on. Our correspondent, HMV's Lee Symonds said: "This is the third time I've seen Rhod and the second time I've seen this new show, and each time I still ache with laughter. Rhod is tremendously funny, he notices the things that we all can associate with and which we have all had to endure at some point in our daily lives, he brings these associated annoyances to life in such a clever way. On the surface you'd think he's being quite random with his jokes and his stories, however the show very cleverly comes together at the end, and what you've actually witnessed is an hour and a half of amazing storytelling. I'd hate to spoil anything for anyone that hasn't yet seen this show, I'll just say two words - Washing Machine."
One of 4DVD's big releases ahead of this will be Facejacker, due on DVD on May 24. The series sees Kayvan Novak, originally creator of Fonejacker, emerging from the shadows and, with the aid of all sorts of prosthetics, appearing on screen to pull his pranks face to face, rather than over the phone. The series started on Channel 4 last week. 4DVD's Claire Bosak said: "Facejacker is the live-action progression of the BAFTA award-winning sketch show Fonejacker. Fonejacker was an E4 hit in 2007/2008 when it gained a huge fan following. Facejacker brings back some of those popular characters, the likes of wheeler dealer Terry Tibbs, and also introduces us to some new outlandish characters."
Interesting news from the US, where Blockbuster has announced plans to take on new kid on the block (or rather the new kid outside the convenience store or on the corner of the block), Redbox. The latter has got some 20,000 of its kiosk that effectively act as vending machines for rental DVDs, across the US and now the Big Blue, as it is affectionately known in some circles of the industry, wants a slice of that pie. After inking a deal with ATM machine manufacturer NCR, some 7,000 of the branded kiosks will be outside outside stores and inside supermarkets by the end of June, with a total of 10,000 planned for the year. In keeping with Redbox's controversial offering it will offer DVD rentals for a mere dollar a day, but also has the option to sell DVDs and, potentially, games and audio. It also allows consumers to reserve films online and pick up from the machines. The kiosk business has rocketed in the US, although Redbox has had its fair share of disputes with studios who weren't keen on its lower pricing policy for new films. Its issues with Universal and Fox were, however, recently resolved.
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
The book of Cormac McCarthy's The Road has become essential tube and train reading and Icon is planning to make the DBD and Blu-ray on May 17 release a similarly must-have purchase. It is concentrating its spend on online activity – the money it would spend on television spots is all migrating online, taking in a whole raft of websites and different consumers, both the upmarket audience who will have read the book, and a wider audience beyond that, who aren't as impressed with the credentials of the book. Much of the advertising will come with the Independent's quote "this is the film everyone should see". "That's what we want to tap into with our marketing," said Icon's Chris Warrington. In addition there will be a four sheet outdoor campaign and press advertising around release.
AT THE MOVIES
The joint lure of Steve Carell and Tina Fey was enough to help Date Night to number one in the UK box office chart, it took £1.27 million in its opening frame (coincidentally, the new series of Fey's excellent 30 Rock also started this week). Two ancient tales – Clash Of the Titans and How To Train Your Dragon continue to hang around, the former has taken more than £18 million, the latter has passed the £14 million barrier. The other new entries were Icon's It's A Wonderful Afterlife and E1's The Joneses, takibg £464,468 and £247,178 respectively. In the US, DreamWorks' Dragon is now up to almost $180 million and still at number one, while the new entries were The Losers (almost $10 million) and Oceans ($8.5 million) were the new entries.
Interesting to note that, as DreamWorks' recent financial figures were released (down on the same quarter last year, as there was no major DVD release to provide revenue, but healthy and above Wall Street forecasts), animation supremo Jeffrey Katzenberg announced plans for a sequel to How To Train Your Dragon. The film has wowed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, which means the follow-up will definitely happen and is expected to land in some three years' time...
One sequel due to arrive is Ring, which is being revived at Paramount with, yes, you've guessed it, a 3D element. It is also said to become more teen-friendly, opting for a younger audience than the original (itself famously a remake of a Japanese film) outing and its sequel. Although we're trying to work out how scriptwriter David Loucka will give a modern twist on the VHS cassette so pivotal to the earlier films (made at the start of the last decade, when video was still a viable and available medium). Some teenagers won't even know what a VHS is... Maybe they could take a leaf out of Metrodome's book here
But our favourite sequel news of the week is that Anchorman may – and it is only a possibilty now – be making a return. Director Adam MacKay told MTV that the principal cast, headed by Ron Burgundy himself, Will Ferrell, have all agreed to return and the story – said to be 80s-themed – is in place. All that's needed now is Paramount's nod for the financing. Fingers crossed...
SITE OF THE WEEK
This one is for Lost fans – a whole raft of episodes and seasons from the WDSHE released title have been turned into film-style posters in a wide range of styles... http://www.flickr.com/photos/28863833@N07/
TWEET OF THE WEEK
The summer blockbuster season has arrived, so we've been following the first proper press screenings of #IronMan2 as assorted hacks and bloggers got to see the film... Our tweeting continues, as well as what we've been watching, on Sunday we posted price information on Avatar. Check out http://twitter.com/theraygun
EVENTS OF THE WEEK
We flagged it on our website last week, but The Raygun was present at the European premiere of the wonderful Downtown Calling, a document of late 70s/early 80s New York, taking in the cross fertilisation of punk, disco and early hip-hop, at a night hosted as part of the East End Film Festival by new pop-up cinema specialists Visionare. And the rest of the time, we spent reading critic Roger Ebert's original script for The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, printed here
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
This looks like a hugely enjoyable slice, or should that be splice, of hokum horror:
And this is even dafter. I mean how difficult is it to stay out of the water? Very, judging by this trailer... (Note appearance from Jaws star Richard Dreyfus...)
New Toy Story business, we've seen it already, but great nonetheless... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qVMpoa7MvQ
OUT NEXT WEEK ON DVD
Attack Of The Crab Monsters (In2Film)
The Boondock Saints II (SPHE)
Caligula (Arrow) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Cuffy The Complete Series (Network)
Death Sport (In2Film)
Dr Who Creature From The Pit (2 entertain)
Fate Stay Night 5 (MVM)
Four Idle Hands The Complete Series (Network)
Grand Theft Auto (In2Film)
Jane Eyre (Second Sight)
The Limits Of Control (Revolver)
Little House On the Prairie: Season 6 (Universal Playback)
The Morecambe And Wise Show Series 7 (2 entertain)
Mugabe And The White African (Dogwoof)
Murder She Wrote Season 11 (Universal Playback)
Museum Of Life (2 entertain)
Not Of This Earth (In2Film)
Oh No It’s Selwyn Froggitt The Complete Third Series (Network)
The Onedin Line Series 2 (2 entertain)
Paranoia Agent Complete Collection (MVM)
The Prisoner (ITV) (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Railway Children 40th anniversary (Optimum) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Razor’s Ring (MVM)
Richard Hammond’s Invisible Worlds (2 entertain) DVD and Blu-ray)
Romeo x Juliet 4 (MVM)
Samantha Who? Season 1 (WDSHE)
Slayers Try box set (MVM)
Spider-Man Unlimited Season 1 (Clear Vision)
The Story Of The Battle Of Britain (Demand DVD)
Taking Woodstock (Universal)
Waking The Dead Series 7 (2 entertain)
WWE Live In The UK November 2009 (Clear Vision)
WWE Royal Rumble 2010 (Clear Vision)
OUT THIS WEEK AT CINEMAS
24 City (New Wave)
A Boy Called Dad (Kaleidoscope)
Cleo From 5 To 7 (BFI)
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed (Cinema NX)
Gentlemen Broncos (Fox)
Iron Man 2 (Paramount)
The Last Song (Disney)
The Milk Of Sorrow (Dogwoof)
Revanche (Artificial Eye)
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