NEWSLETTER :: October 21 2010

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It was a good week for… Universal, whose Mamma Mia! is now the bestselling DVD ever…

It was a bad week for… Sales in the US, as the Digital Entertainment Group reported a 16 per cent drop in sales for the first nine months of 2010. Rentals were down more than 5 per cent. On the plus side, Blu-ray sales were up 80 per cent and vod sales were up 20 per cent…

The winner, it would appear, does take it all, as Universal's Abba musical Mamma Mia! this week became the biggest selling DVD ever, notching up more than 6 million sales in the near-two years since its release (half of which came in its first week), and in doing so knocking The Lord Of The Rings – The Fellowship Of The Ring off its perch. While the previous bestseller slipped, the Rings trilogy still occupies three of the top five slots, with lifetime franchise sales of 16 million. The BVA's Lavinia Carey said: "The cumulative DVD sales of Mamma Mia! positions the film as an instant classic among not only cinema goers but also those looking to recreate that feel good factor at home on DVD.  The success of Mamma Mia! as well as the other top four video titles in the all-time chart demonstrate that, while new technology offers an ever widening choice of access to audiovisual content, DVD remains the country’s favourite platform for watching movies." The OCC's md Martin Talbot added: " Mamma Mia! is truly a phenomenon of our time and the massive success of the DVD release is clear, indisputable evidence of this, with one in four households now owning a copy - or one in five women, if you want to look at it that way."   

FACT has been busy again over the past seven days, with officers from the organisation joining Met Police officers to raid a suspected pirate DVD factory in Woolwich, south east London. Five people, all Chinese nationals, were arrested in the raid, which yielded a large quantity of counterfeit DVDs, as well as equipment used to manufacture bootlegs and counterfeit tobacco. There were 23 DVD towers at the premises, each capable of copying 10 discs at a time, giving some idea of its output. Three of the suspects were bailed, the other two were kept in custody. FACT director general Kieron Sharp said: "FACT continues to work closely with the Met Police to detect and disrupt serious organised criminal activity which controls the production, distribution and sale of counterfeit film and TV DVDs across London and the south-east. The impact of those criminal activities impacts on the jobs of people working in the creative sector and threatens the economic survival of businesses in the capital."   

To the HMS Belfast, moored on the Thames, for HBO's launch event for its November 1 release The Pacific. The epic miniseries, from the team behind the biggest selling TV DVD box set ever, Band Of Brothers, boasts the biggest production budget ever for a TV series of its ilk, and the party was of a similar stature too. Assorted retailers and Warner sales and marketing staff were on hand alongside their HBO colleagues to help push the boat out for The Pacific. What was impressive – well, in addition to the party itself – was the number of journalists on hand to help launch the event, alongside a smattering of stars too (the Fantastic Four's Chris Evans alongside some Pacific stars, seehere). The Pacific stars also gave numerous broadcast and press interviews for the UK and international press.

Another launch event that took place this week was Warner's Mystery Mansion launch at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (no, we don't know when they added the Cats to the title either). Timed to coincide with Warner's Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare release as well as a video game and new series on Boomerang, Mystery Inc!, the event helped launch the Myster Mansion, a specially created haunted house installation that youngsters can play in. It is touring the country's shopping centres as part of the launch. On hand were Jedward, the pictures will be up on our website shortly and we suggest you take a look, as they were excellent.

And there was more on Monday too, as Frozen, Momentum's excellent chiller, came out, its release marked by a chair lift challenge in London's West End. Again, pictures will be on the website shortly. But Lisa Richards from The Associates said: "We were delighted with the huge numbers of people prepared to risk life and limb stuck in a chair lift (which we borrowed from Aviemore). It was actually much higher up than we originally imagined so they were very, very brave souls and we certainly drew some attention. Needless to say none of us risked it. Huge thanks to our event production team Big Machine Media." Momentum's Adam Eldrett added: "The Frozen event down at UCL was a great success, I do not think one student went home that night without knowing about the release of Frozen. Some pictures of the Chairlift Challenger are on the Frozen facebook site, we managed to creep over 3,000 members this week which I think it a victory for our social networking campaign. Normski was the MC at the event and even went up on the chair for one of the first runs of the day. Good crowds, uber footfall and Zoo have been brilliant promoting the event on and offline. Next week's issue should have a nice piece on the event."

It's been a busy week for us all round, what with assorted press junkets and, of course, the London Film Festival. We're going to have a full report on what we saw in the coming weeks, but one of the highlights (which we sadly missed) was the BFI's restored The Great White Silence, the official record of Captain Scott's trip to the South Pole, complete with new live score. It was one of the LFF's hottest tickets (which we sadly missed due to being with HBO), and one of its best-received events. It's due to arrive in stores next year after a theatrical release. The BFI's James Blackford said: "Last night's LFF Archive Gala Screening was the ideal showcase for this incredible, meticulous BFI restoration. Simon Fisher Turner's live score was the perfect accompaniment to the haunting, beautiful images. We are very excited about our forthcoming May 2012 DVD and Blu-ray Dual Format release, which will include this score and range of essential extra features."  

After picking up last year's foreign language Oscar winner (The Secret In Their Eyes) before it was on many people's radars, Metrodome has inked a deal to sign a title that is already being tipped for awards glory in 2011. The company has picked up UK rights to the first film developed by Nicole Kidman and her Blossom Films company, Rabbit Hole. Kidman also stars alongside Aaron Eckhart in a tale directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Shortbus, Hedwig And The Angry Inch) about a couple who are fighting to save their marriage. Metrodome's Jezz Vernon said: "This is a film that Metrodome has been very passionate about from the first time that we saw it. Rabbit Hole is simply an outstanding piece of cinema, and we are confident that it will receive the awards attention that it so richly deserves."

American funny woman Joan Rivers – in her late 70s and still going strong – is jetting in to the UK to appear at the UK premiere of a documentary looking at her and her life, A Piece Of Work, ahead of its UK DVD release. Rivers will be at the first UK screening due to take place at the Sheffield Doc/Fest on November 5. Documentary specialist Dogwoof will be releasing the DVD of Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work on November 8, and the star will be giving press and broadcast interviews to help publicise the release. It sets the seal on a flurry of activity for Dogwoof, which is releasing a clutch of documentaries, including Last Train Home, a documentary about migrant workers in China (October 25), "doomsday environmentalist doc" Collapse (November 1) and the excellent No Impact Man, which sees a New York author trying to live without any damage to the environment (November 8). Dogwoof's Oli Harbottle said: "We are delighted to be releasing the special DVD version of Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work to coincide with both its UK premiere at DocFest and its transmission on More4, both key partners for us in giving the best documentaries a strong presence here in the UK. The title is a fantastic addition to our rapidly-expanding catalogue, which spans the breadth of top-quality documentary filmmaking, and we are confident that it will do well in the lucrative Christmas market."
The industry is now fully gearing up for that aforementioned lucrative market, tying up deals and putting the finishing touches to marketing campaigns. Latest to unveil its plans is Anchor Bay, which is releasing Lee Mack Going Out Live on November 22. As Anchor Bay's Rod Smith noted: "Lee Mack is about to be one of the major DVD titles of 2010, on the back of his hit BBC sitcom, his hit BBC comedy panel show and his sold out tour to more than 200,000 fans, he will be up there with the best when the dust settles at the end of Christmas. In our continuing development as one of the major comedy distributors in the UK Lee Mack is exactly the type of dynamic, upcoming and most importantly , funny, comedians that we are proud to work with. Lee Mack is about to become one of THE big hitters in the DVD comedy world. In terms of marketing itself, the company is promising a national outdoor and TV campaign from launch through the gifting season." Anchor Bay's Emma Nicholls added: "The marketing campaign to support the release includes unmissable national outdoor and a TV campaign from launch throughout the gifting season. Lee’s confirmed to be appearing on a number of major, money-can’t-buy PR platforms including BBC and ITV prime-time shows."

Another major campaign is being put together for 4DVD's sophomore stand-up outing from the ever-excellent Frankie Boyle. We've discussed this show already in The Raygun after seeing the Scottish comic's shocking live show being recorded for the November 15 release of the wonderfully titled If I Could Reach Out Through Your TV And Strangle You I Would. Boyle's star is still rising even though he has departed his regular slot on Mock The Week. 4DVD's campaign will include TV, press, online and outdoor, including roadside 48 sheets in Scotland around launch. 4DVD's Jessica Scott said: "We are really excited about this release and have very high hopes for Frankie’s second live DVD, especially after the massive success of his first."

And we at The Raygun, including our junior correspondent, are getting excited about the November 8 launch of the fifth series of the new take on Doctor Who. Never far from the headlines, the new Doctor Who has proved a ratings and critical success and – for 2 entertain – a commercial gem. While the hero continually regenerates, so does the marketing with 2e ramping up its campaign for what promises to be its biggest box set release ever. On launch day there will be a major signing event at HMV’s flagship Oxford Street store with the stars, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. The duo, better known as The Doctor and Amy Pond, will sign 300 copies of the lenticular-sleeve box set following appearances on major TV and radio stations to promote the DVD release. 2 entertain product manager Sophia Nelson said: “This year we have fantastic support from the main cast who you’ll see adorning the pages of several papers and magazines and will take to the HMV stage at lunchtime on the day of release – all to promote this DVD which we’re predicting will be one of our biggest-sellers." HMV’s Gennaro Castaldo added: “We're fortunate in being able to stage many big-name artist signings in our stores - usually from the world of music, but one of our most successful and memorable PAs of recent years was for the Doctor Who DVD signing by David Tennant and Freema Agyeman at our Oxford Circus store. It was more like a rock'n'roll event attended by thousands, and you can still see footage of the fans' amazing reaction on various links across YouTube. Judging by the extensive and excited social media chatter that we've already picked up, the forthcoming signing by Matt and Karen of 2 entertain's Series 5 will be just as huge an event, if not bigger and even more exciting. It promises to be a lot of fun, and we're all really looking forward to it." See you down the front…

One TV programme that has caught our eye in recent weeks has been Whites, the Alan Davies comedy about a chef, featuring a great ensemble cast and some snappy writing. What's more it has been pulling in almost 2 million viewers per episode, making it one of the best performing new comedies on BBC2 this year. Now ITV Studios Home Entertainment is readying itself for the DVD release, with the title due on November 22. The campaign will include press advertising, online ads on and talent-led PR, the show's writer Matt King also appears in the series. ITV's Richard Bernard said: "Whites is a great new comedy that's been performing well in terms of viewing audience and audience share on BBC2. It has a good cast in Alan Davies, Darren Boyd, Isy Suttie, Katherine Parkinson and Maggie Steed, so we're confident it will convert well into DVD sales."

Revolver is ramping up its activity in the run-up to its acclaimed romcom release, Heartbreaker on November 22. The indie this week launched a major promotion tying in with telly programme Britain's Next Top Model (one of The Raygun's favourites) and its live event, taking place this weekend. A competition at the event at Excel in east London, will offer punters at the show the chance to win a weekend for two in Paris and entry is via dropboxes advertising the release around the venue. It has also been promoted on the website here  and forms part of a campaign that will include a major two week national TV advertising campaign, supported by pre-roll ads on 4OD, a promotion with Wedding TV, plus advertising across the National press and key women’s glossie. The DVD and Blu-ray will also feature a voucher booklet offering consumers more than £200 in savings across top brands, encompassing fashion, cosmetics, theatre, travel, magazines, dating and wine. Revolver's Jon Sadler said: "Heartbreaker is a key release for revolver this Q4, and as the undisputed rom-com of the year we are ensuring that this title will be a sure-fire hit by building up significant pre-release awareness at the event this weekend, adding exceptional value at the point of purchase as well as delivering an emotive TV spot that will have anyone who has ever been a fan of Dirty Dancing itching to buy a copy come week of release"    

A new label aimed at promoting the best of Italian films has just launched. Vita is looking at highlighting contemporary Italian cinema, an area that it feels is woefully under-represented at cinemas and on DVD in the UK. The company can point to the fact that some 4 million travel between the UK and Italy on business and pleasure trips each year, and the existence of more than 200 Italian clubs and societies in the UK as pointers to its potential audience. The company's first two titles, A Perfect Day (Un Giorno Perfetto) and The Past Is A Foreign Land (Il Pasato e Una Terra Straniera) launched last week, with its next, Cosmonaut, due on November 8.  A deal with Italian producer cum distributor Fandango has been inked, providing it with product into 2011 and the label is looking to tie up more acquisitions. Vita's Chris Johnson said: " We feel Italian films are often overlooked in UK by comparison with films from elsewhere but given their quality there is an opportunity for audience development. A specialist label with regular well publicised releases has a great opportunity to develop a loyal network. Vita will appeal to a cross-section of audiences many of whom already enjoy a ‘virtual love affair’ with Italy it’s culture and all things Italian. We have very interesting ongoing discussions with potential partners that are excited to be a part of the the Italian Cinema experience Vita is planning to introduce."

Foreign language of a different kind now, with Arrow Video, the much talked about (and much admired by us) cult label, announcing the November 29 release of the seminal Japanese film Battle Royale. Assorted horror websites have gone into overdrive at Arrow's ambitious plans for the release, which comes in a strictly limited edition, specially packaged run of 5,000 each for Blu-ray and DVD editions. The set will come complete with three discs for each format, taking in theatrical and director's cuts, as well as a wealth of extras. It will also include booklets, an exclusive comic, postcards and poster. It's already charted and performing well as a pre-order title at all the right websites.

And we'll end on some recruitment news, as the popular Vince Petersen, formerly of MGM and Paramount, has landed a role at AGI. He joined this week as European sales and business development director for film entertainment markets. AGI's John Mullane said: "We are very happy to have Vincent join us at a very exciting time when we have just found new owners and are repositioning AGI and its industry-leading services in design and digital, print and packaging, pos and plastics. His senior experiences across sales and marketing will be extremely relevant to sell our entire offering of services and products to the film markets." Popular industry character Petersen added: "I am very excited to be joining the experienced and respected team at AGI in these times of change and believe that my intimate knowledge of the Film industry will bring AGI’s expertise and capabilities and the entire home entertainment industry even closer together for whatever the creative or operational opportunities might be."

"Those movies probably sat on shelves, but it's nice to think that, for someone, we reminded them that walking through a good video store was actually walking among aisles full of great possibilities." Film-maker Joe Swanberg about his time in a rental store in an excellent article about the death of rental in the US. Read it here…

It's almost a year since Nativity! took more than £5 million at the UK box office, but the seasonally-themed family comedy is at last making its way to DVD on November 22 courtesy of eOne. The company is aiming to reheat interest in the title with event-status TV advertising across terrestrial and satellite channels with national press and an online campaign. As eOne's Sayoko Tietz said: " The marketing campaign for Nativity! will be an all singing all dancing campaign with all the bells and whistles that you would expect for the top Christmas feel-good release this Q4." There's also a wealth of promotional activity, with children from the cast switching on Christmas lights in Coventry (where the film is set), and a charity celebrity screening around release.  Tietz added: "This is simply the must-have Christmas DVD this year."


Universal's Despicable Me, with a haul of £3.66 million, outdid The Social Network at UK cinemas over the weekend. The latter took almost £2.5 million, while Vampires Suck, despite bad reviews, took more than £1 million.  

It's taken three years to move along, but it appears as if the remake of Colossus: The Forbin Project, is back on the agenda. And this time the project, a remake of a 70s film about a computer that takes control, will star Will Smith…

That film may be slightly obscure, but this week's other remake news concerns Hellraiser, currently doing the rounds with the team behind the My Bloody Valentine remake and the forthcoming Drive Angry said to be attached…   

Avoid the Internet if you don't want to know what's happening on Ridley Scott's Alien prequel. The script has been leaked and is apparently doing the rounds…

And lastly, as if there haven't been enough versions of Day Of The Triffids, including last year's mini-series, but now Sam Raimi is said to be looking at remaking the film after securing the rights to John Wyndham's seminal novel.  

In case you hadn't noticed – and we've covered it on here enough – Iron Man 2 is out next week. And this website, produced to help promote Paramount's release, is brilliant. It's at Well, you try getting a newsletter out when you've got this to play with…  

Thanks to, among others, LOVEFiLM's Helen Cowley and the BFI themselves, we've been able to keep up with a whole host of goings-on at the LFF. Follow us at

Not necessarily where you'd expect Anthony Hopkins to turn up…

Doesn't tell you too much, but enough to get us – and the kids – excited

One of the LFF biggies…

Surely that's a typo? Nice dramatic trailer though…
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