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It Was A Good Week For... Reg and Ron, still the top firm in the business…
It Was A Bad Week For… The Dutch government, being sued by distributors for $1.2 billion for its overly tolerant attitude towards illegal downloading…
And the Krays just keep on going… Not content with dominating the chart after the year’s best week one showing thus far – and one that put a lot of Q4 2015 titles to shame too – Studiocanal’s Legend was set to top the Official Charts Company’s listings for a second week running, according to the organisation’s midweek bulletin. The brothers, as played by Tom Hardy, were ruling the roost again, keeping clear of the week’s new entries, led by Maze Runner The Scorch Trials. It comes on the back of a sterling week one showing, with Legend’s sales totalling 277,000, putting it, as Studiocanal’s John Rodden noted on last week’s newsletter, ahead of week one performances of other 18-rated heavy-hitters such as Wolf Of Wall Street and Django Unchained. And it also represents another remarkable success for the company on the back of last year’s Paddington. This week’s sales have been equally impressive, with Legend being joined in the top five by new entry Macbeth. And there’s more where that came from, including, into March, Carol too. And the likes of Room are currently performing at the box office… Studiocanal’s Kristin Ryan said: “It's been a great start to the year with Legend continuing to dominate the charts and now Justin Kurzel's stunning adaptation of Macbeth selling so well in its first week. With awards season upon us, we're now focusing on the eagerly anticipated home entertainment release of Carol on March 21 and further into Q2 with the release of Room, which continues its impressive box office run as one of this year's must see awards contenders."
To Mexican restaurant – and tequila bar – Mestizo, just north of Warren Street tube in London’s West End, for a special screening of Lionsgate’s excellent war on drugs thriller Sicario. What better than to see the film, rated by some as one of the year’s finest, after trying some Mexican street food and getting a talk on tequila and a chance to sample different varieties (the venue, we are reliably informed has more than 150 on offer). And it wasn’t just The Raygun, the event managed to pull some big names from the DVD reviewing world, taking in the Telegraph, Time Out, the Independent, Virgin Media, TV & Satellite Week, Hey U Guys, IGN and, of course, our good selves, into a packed venue. The film’s got off to an impressive start too – it’s sitting at number three in the midweeks according to the Official Charts Company’s bulletin. Maze Runner – The Scorch Trials is in at number two, with Stick Man from eOne at four and the aforementioned Macbeth at five. More new entries come in the shape of Miss You Already at number nine, Endeavour on the TV chart at number 10 and just below those, The Walk. John Wick enjoys a boost up to 14, Regression is at 26, Falling Skies at number 31, a couple of places above the second volume of Thunderbirds Are Go, with the latest from children’s favourite Bing, upraise Machine, at number 36. 

One company that’s been watching Legend’s success with some interest is thriving independent Signature. It already knew only too well the sway the East End villains still held over the video industry after the success of its Rise Of The Krays towards the latter part of 2015. And the big, big sales enjoyed by Tom Hardy’s take on the twins gives Signature renewed confidence for its forthcoming release of the sequel to its earlier outing, The Fall Of The Krays. The film arrives on March 28, it has already benefited from a premium vod release and things are shaping up nicely for Signature’s gangsters. Commenting on the release, Signature’s Emilie Barra said: "Following the success of the PVOD release in the new year we’ll be reigniting the campaign with a targeted publicity and marketing campaign aimed at fans of Rise Of The Krays as well as tapping into the growing interest in British crime thrillers and Ronnie and Reggie’s story."
Sticking with Signature and the company has this week announced the next step in its ongoing growth, signalling once more its meaty ambitions. For Signature, along with The Fyzz Facility, is moving into production for Final Score. The film will see Signature’s Marc Goldberg working as a producer, alongside, among others, director Scott Mann, whose most recent outing was hugely commercial Lionsgate thriller Heist. And for the Signature man it’ll be a home fixture – the film is based in a football stadium and is due to be shot in his beloved West Ham’s Upton Park stadium. But there is a catch – for as any football fan knows, the Hammers are leaving the ground, also known as the Boleyn, this summer to head to a new home at the old Olympic Stadium; shooting has to be completed before the developers moves in. Final Score sees the stadium being seized a gang of vicious criminals who demand a ransom And only one former soldier is brace enough to take them on… it will shoot in the summer, with a theatrical release to follow; it also sounds like a guaranteed home entertainment winner. Commenting on the film, Goldberg said: “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to film in this unique and legendary location. The premiership is the biggest football league in the world and their impending move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium has been reported globally. We have a stellar team looking to deliver a $20million non-stop action, world class film with a one off unique opportunity to utilise an iconic stadium before it’s demolished. Imagine Die Hard in a soccer stadium.” 
Congratulations to former Paramount staffer Paul O’Hare, who this week took over the reins at the Entertainment Group in the role of general manager for home entertainment at Entertainment In Video (aka EV, or EIV). He had taken on both international and UK roles at the major, overseeing both sales and marketing arms of the business, as well as stints at the likes of Universal and BBC Worldwide prior to that, making him ideally placed to marshall the home entertainment business for EV. Commenting on his appointment, O’Hare said: “I’m delighted to be here, we’ve got some great films here and I’m excited to be looking at making the most of them on all formats throughout their life cycle. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends too.” Among his first priorities at the independent is putting the finishing touches the release strategy and details for The Hateful 8, and O’Hare added: “We’re just finalising the release date and the campaign, it’s a really exciting film to be working on.”

Winter is coming. In the springtime. For HBO has this week announced the return of the planet’s most popular TV programme, Game Of Thrones. In recent years the series has dominated all arenas, from broadcast TV, through to digital and physical markets too, picking up award after award along the way. And with the customary flurry of activity in the early part of the year, HBO has this week confirmed the arrival of the record-breaking fifth season of the series in Blu-ray and DVD formats, with the release slated for March 14. In recent years it has dominated the TV on DVD sector, with three of the top five bestsellers for 2015 being Game Of Thrones related. Its arrival presages the launch of the sixth series of the hugely popular show on Sky Atlantic (and globally) on April 24. We’ll be covering the release plenty more in the coming months as HBO finalises its campaign, but, in the meantime, commenting on the release, HBO’s Grace Alexander said: “We’re really looking forward to the release of Game Of Thrones Season 5 in March, the countdown has officially started. Last week we released our brand new trailer featuring music from Jordan Max, as an exclusive on Digital Spy and that really marks the start of activity that will be running right up until the release next month."
More from the BFI and after last week’s big stories from the organisation there’s more come this week as it unveiled more genuinely exciting plans for the months ahead. First it announced plans for a major retrospective focusing on one of the giants of British drama, Alan Clarke. With its DVD and Blu-ray arm leading the way, it has put together two mammoth DVD box sets featuring his entire output at the BBC, including the original Scum and more. One six disc set is entitled Dissent, the other Disruption, with a Blu-ray only set featuring both, Dissent And Disruption, including a bonus disc of his Half Hour Story episodes from Associated Rediffusion, including two thought long lost. Also on May 23 come two standalone Clarke releases – a never seen before director’s cut of seminal football hooligan tale The Firm (acknowledged by those in the know as the finest football violence film ever and the blueprint for all that followed) and the also unearthed and rarely seen Penda’s Fen. A retrospective of  Clarke’s work has been put together by the BFI and will air at the Southbank from April to June. Commenting on the work that’s gone into it, the BFI’s Sam Dunn said: “This has been a long time coming, with extensive behind the scenes planning, so it’s absolutely amazing to see the overwhelmingly positive reaction to our announcement from all quarters. Clarke is one of the greatest of all British filmmakers, but the full scope of what he achieved in just over two decades can’t be readily understood by watching only what is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray. The idea that it’ll soon be possible to see so many of the extraordinary dramas which he made is absolutely mind-blowing, even to me! I think people will be truly astonished.”
Also unveiled this week by the BFI, as part of its plans for the second quarter, was the welcome news that it is reviving the marvellous Flipside imprint, which celebrates the weird and the wonderful from the world of British film, with a trio of releases, taking in Beat Girl, Cliff Richard-starrer Expresso Bongo and the long-lost Symptoms, Britain’s entry to Cannes in 1974 which had all but disappeared from view. Commenting on the revitalised label, the BFI’s Sam Dunn said: “It’s great to be re-launching the brand with such incredible titles, and in such exquisite restorations, too. Seeing the longest available versions of both Beat Girl and Expresso Bongo newly scanned from the original negatives is like experiencing them for the very first time. And seeing Symptoms at all, never mind newly restored, is something I never ever thought would happen. The long-overdue return of this gothic treat will thrill fans of Polanski’s Repulsion and Larraz’s own classic Vampyres.”  

The world’s gone Dad’s Army crazy, as the release of the new big screen take on the classic sitcom arrives in cinemas on Friday (February 5) on the back of a wave of publicity and advertising. Heck, even The Sun mocked up David Cameron as Captain Mainwaring on Wednesday’s front page as part of its latest Euro-bashing exercise, only further heightening awareness. So what better time for other Dad’s Army related home entertainment activity? As reported here, the BBC Store has an exclusive of its rediscovered episode, A Stripe For Frazer, after finding the audio and replacing the missing images with animated versions of the Walmington On Sea Home Guard. And Dazzler Media has smartly timed its release of We’re Doomed: The Dad’s Army Story, for this week. The programme, aired on the BBC just before Christmas, is a dramatised version of the much-loved programme’s route to television and its birth, and offers a warm, affectionate tribute to the show and its stars. Commenting on the release, Dazzler’s Private Paul Holland said: “We do seem to have gone a bit Dad’s Army crazy as a nation and we believed this critically acclaimed drama was worthy of a release in and around all the hype for the movie.” Captain Graham Davidson added: “wWe are looking to continuously add to our slate of TV drama’s in 2016 and beyond and we’re delighted to be releasing this great drama at such a great time.”
And sticking with Dazzler, the ambitious company has made an announcement for another programme we at The Raygun are much enamoured with, after announcing it has picked up the rights to all three series charting the life and times of Brian Pern. For the uninitiated, the programme is a mock rockumentary, a la Spinal Tap, following the imaginary rocker, Pern and his band Thotch. It boasts an impressive cast of fine comic talent and plenty of real-life rockers as it pokes fun at Peter Gabriel, Genesis and other assorted prog rock characters. All three series, each containing three episodes, as well as a couple of hours of extras, will arrive in one package from the company on April 4. Commenting the release, Dazzler’s Paul ‘Pop Quiz’ Holland said, with his tongue firmly in his cheek: “As market leaders in the Prog Rock documentary genre on DVD since 1969, this was a must for us. Thotch were instrumental in both mine and Graham’s musical heritage and both attended their legendary Isle Of Wight shows in the 70’s, when the band split we both went to Stonehenge to cry (it was where we first met). Ever since then we have followed Brian Pern’s career through the decades. Some may say DVD was invented just so the Brian Pern series could be released on the format.”
Riding in on a wave of awards and critical acclaim, The Lobster is hoping to make a big splash when it arrives on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats on Monday February 8, supported by an extensive media and PR campaign. And with nominations at the upcoming Evening Standard Film Awards and also the BAFTAs, there is still a strong buzz around the film. Press adverts will be running both pre- and post-release, appearing in the Guardian, Independent, Time Out and Metro. These will be accompanied by a Facebook-focused online campaign, Picturehouse Entertainment is aiming to make this a high profile release with a strong presence across retail. PR includes reviews, promotions and competitions across a wide range of outlets and exclusive materials placed with key online platforms. Commenting on the release for Picturehouse Entertainment, the company’s Sara Frain said “We’re very excited about the forthcoming Home Entertainment release of what is undoubtedly one of the most talked-about films of recent years. Off the back of a stunning Box Office result we hope that this is a title that consumers will be happy to shell out for, if you’ll pardon the pun”. See our Site Of The Week below for more on this…

More forthcoming biggies are due from Universal, with a raft of titles due from the major, as ever. Two due in the coming weeks include two of 2015’s finest, and arguably most underrated films. First comes Crimson Peak, directed by Guillermo Del Toro and boasting a cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Mia Wasikowska. The film arrives on February 15 on Blu-ray, DVD and ubiquitous Steelbook, complete with new spots targeting horror and film fans running online as pre-rolls and on vod channels, backed with PR campaign that includes a partnership with IGN, a gan art competition and more. Commenting on the release, Universal’s Lucia Magadan said: ““As an avid fan of Guillermo working on this film has been a fantastic experience as his attention to detail and directorial style is one of a kind.”
More from Universal, as on the same date comes Bill, the family title from the stars of Horrible Histories. For the uninitiated, the film follows the fortunes of William Shakespeare, the Bill of the title, and his attempts to fund a meaningful career and is as daft as you’d expect from the award-winning team behind the hit show. Universal is working with Scholastic to help target parents and teachers of children aged between five and 12 years old. There’s press advertising and social media elements to target the keen and loyal fanbase. And the stars have helped support the release with plenty of interviews Universal’s Emma Havens said: “It has been an absolute pleasure working on Bill, with the filmmaking team and the Horrible Histories stars. I hope that the campaign we have created has done this British gem justice.”
Appointments news and it seems not a week goes by without Mubi hitting the headlines and this week’s announcement concerns recruitment at the specialist svod operator, with the company announcing it has taken on a new chief operating officer. Roberto Soto joins from Fox International Channels and will oversee Mubi’s strategy and global business going forward. It’s the latest development from the company, which has increasingly been looking for exclusive content as well as moving into China. Mubi founder and ceo Efe Cakarel said: “I am delighted to welcome Roberto to the team at an incredibly exciting time for MUBI. In the next year, we will be expanding into China and continue to explore original productions. Roberto's experience in heading strategic growth initiatives and extensive knowledge of the business come at a fantastic time.” Soto himself added: “It’s an honour and I am really excited to join the amazing MUBI team in this journey. We have a fantastic value proposition and a committed team that passionately cares about great cinema. We are excited about all the great news that we want to share with our subscribers and MUBI fans in the future.” 

Sticking with the world of svod titles and this week’s key number is 12 – for that’s the total number of big acquisitions made by Amazon and Netflix at this year’s Sundance festival, making them the biggest players at the event. Last year the pair only bought one relatively small title between them, this year it was six apiece… The modus operandi might be different – Netflix was after svod rights, Amazon was eyeing US theatrical and other rights – but there’s no doubt that the two are making a profound difference to our business going forward. Key acquisitions included, for Amazon, Manchester By The Sea, and, for Netflix, The Fundamentals Of Caring. 
In a story that seems to come around, oh, at least once a year or so, there have been calls this week to pursue a higher certificate for films that feature smoking in them. The plea came from the World Health Organisation, whose Dr Douglas Bettcher said: “Film remains one of the last channels exposing millions of adolescents to smoking imagery without restrictions.” A 2014 study suggested that 36 per cent of films aimed at young people that year featured smoking – with 6 million teens being “recruited”, of whom, 4 million would die from tobacco-related illnesses. The BBFC said smoking didn’t necessarily warrant an 18 certificate, although, it added: “Glamorisation of smoking in works that appeal to children is more likely to receive a higher classification.”
Just gone live on our website is one of the most intriguing curios we’ve seen for some time. Mentioned here last week, it was unearthed by our pals at the Duke Mitchell Film Club for their excellent VHS Night and is a tape sent out by CBS Fox, as it was then known, in a bid to get rental dealers to make more of an effort with their own stores. We spoke to two of its original protagonists, Mike Preece and Cheryl Hutchinson, about the thinking behind it and the making of the tape, more than 25 years ago. The Duke Mitchell guys, who include former HMV staffer and sometime Raygun contributor Alex Kidd, now working for PlayStation Store, alongside Evrim Ersoy, have uploaded it and we’ve embedded it on our site over here We can’t recommend it highly enough, it really is amazing viewing and harks back to a bygone era. Preece is now based in New Zealand, while Hutchinson is currently seeking new opportunities in the video industry after leaving Paramount when the major put its home entertainment operation through Universal. You can contact her on 
Meanwhile, if anyone has any old trailer tapes, training tapes or similar artefacts from the bygone days of our industry, particularly old VHS cassettes, then let us know at the usual address and we’ll pass them on to the Duke Mitchell Club for its next VHS extravaganza…

“The diverse, dynamic creators behind these films have already built massive audiences on YouTube, rivalling many cable shows. With YouTube Red Originals, we want to help them tell bigger and bolder stories. YouTube Red is your opportunity to support the passion projects your favourite creators have only dreamed about until now.”
Susanne Daniels, global head of original content at YouTube, in a blog post launching its YouTube Red svod service. In the US only, the first four films will be available to buy as separate titles from the Internet giant (see trailers below).
An impressive start for Lionsgate’s Dirty Grandpa, which bowed with more than £2 million in its first weekend, although the impressive ongoing performance of The Revenant kept it off the top slot, the Leonardo Di Caprio film has now earned more than £16 million. Spotlight was the second highest new entry, with more tun £1 million in receipts. Other new entries in the top 10 included Capture The Flag, with more than £774,000 and, on the event cinema side, the Met Opera’s Turandot. 
After scoring big with the critics’ least favourite actor, Adam Sandler (his Ridiculous Six was one of the most watched programmes ever on the svod service), Netflix has ensnared another comic whose works are popular with audiences despite the critical brickbats thrown his way… Kevin James, he of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 fame, is developing a feature, True Memoirs Of An International Assassin, due to air later this year. Judging by the amount of film types who mentioned his Mall Cop sequel in snide remarks online, his role as a substitute Sandler can only grow… In other Netflix news, Orange Is The New Black has been renewed for a hopping there additional seasons. This comes ahead of the premiere of the later outing, the fourth… 
From Twitter, to a Rolling Stone article to the big screen… that’s the route that’s being taken by the latest outing from Hollywood’s busiest man, James Franco.  The saga began with an, ahem, adult entertainer, Zola, aka Aziah Wells, detailing her road trip to Florida in 148 tweets. It turned into a magazine feature, Zola Tells All” The real Story Behind The Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted, and is now set to be a film directed by Franco himself… 
This from Picturehouse… “And with Valentine’s Day coming up, what better opportunity could there be to consider what you would do if you only had 45 days to find a new partner (or risk being turned into an animal of your choosing!). If you’ve ever wondered what animal might suit you, best check out…” Recommended… 

And here’s the latest from our junior correspondent Albie, opening the new Lego Marvel Avengers game on his YouTube channel…
A family biggie from Signature, trailer just broke…
Final Zoolander 2 trailer…
Odds on you’ll cry in this trailer (after the introduction)…
Forthcoming from Altitude… 
Slasher due from UK indie Sharp Teeth…
Eagerly awaited horror…
More from Gods Of Egypt…
And here’s that cannibal film we were talking about last week…
Those YouTube Red titles in full…
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