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It Was A Good Week For… Lionsgate, with three of the top four in the UK box office top 10…

It Was A Bad Week For… Anyone who left it late to get a BVA awards ticket: the event has now sold out

The big release this week, as we noted in last week's newsletter, was SPHE's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It got off to a bright start, with sales said to be brisk , plentiful reviews (as noted on our website, it was the most reviewed film across the weekend's newspapers) and a launch event at the newly opened second branch of the London Film Museum in Covent Garden. The event, attended by assorted trade people, journalists, bloggers, competition winners and, of course, The Raygun, saw the launch not just of the film, but of a well represented exhibition of memorabilia from the David Fincher film. Also in attendance was one of the film's stars, Brit character actor Steven Berkoff.

Out next week, and something we've seen a lot of TV ads for this week is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the film that has revitalised the Tom Cruise franchise. No wonder we’ve seen so many spots for it: Paramount has targeted football over the past week and will be doing it again this weekend, which neatly coincides with the season reaching its climax (apparently there’s some big game on Monday night). The major has also targeted cinemas, with 30 second spots ahead of The Avengers film, aka Marvel Avengers Assemble. In addition to this, there’s been a pre-order video on demand campaign, a digital outdoor campaign across the national rail network at major stations, and a London Underground campaign. Smartly, much of the outdoor elements will focus on Cruise and the skyscraper Burj building, one of the film’s most memorable scenes. PR includes a major coup in the shape of a seven minute online clip being featured on The Sun’s website (see here) Commenting on the release, Paramount’s Edwin Bott said: “Overall we’re very excited for the Mission Impossible release on Monday, and feel the media and PR campaigns, along with our very strong retail set-up is positioning the title for every success. It’s a great film and it’s got a great marketing and retail support to match the high-octane action that connected so well with audiences at cinemas.”

As well as the success of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, there's been one or two other titles performing strongly too – one of the more notable strong sellers this week has been independent Metrodome's Grave Encounters, which got off to a brisk start out of the blocks and was selling well over the counter in the run-up to the weekend, appearing at number three in the midweek charts. Metrodome's Danny James said: "It’s great to be able to add Grave Encounters to Metrodome’s 2012 slate and we’re thrilled at how well it’s performed in the first week. It’s a fantastic addition to the found-footage genre and has had a huge amount of buzz from horror fans so it’s a real pleasure to be able to bring it to the UK."

While we're on Metrodome, we've been viewing one or two of the company's forthcoming titles this week and one that's particularly impressed us is Piggy. The title, out on May 21 on DVD and Blu-ray, after a brief theatrical run kicking off next weekend. It stars the ever-reliable Martin Compston and the marvellous Neil Maskell (Kill List et al) and is a tough, gritty British flick that's a step or two above the average homegrown gangster flick. As the company's Rebecca Johnson said: "We’re very excited to be working on Piggy which has recently been compared to Kill List and Dead Man’s Shoes by Zoo Magazine and described as ‘the new Clockwork Orange’ by Starburst Magazine. It’s great to see Neil Maskell on form and a truly excellent performance from rising star Paul Anderson [as the titular anti-hero]. We’re proud to support homegrown British product.” See below for the trailer…

Talking of homegrown product, we like the sound of the latest promotion due from Studiocanal. Capitalising on the expected surge in patriotism around the Olympics, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and (less likely this one), England's performance in the Euro 2012 football tournament, the company is embarking on a summer-long burst of activity aimed at highlighting the best of British from its vast catalogue. The activity will span both theatrical and DVD and Blu-ray releases. The3 former sees a month worth of Tuesday nationwide screenings, starting with Passport To Pimlico and The Plague Of The Zombies on June 5 and 12 respectively, and then running through taking in The Man Who Fell To Earth, Hobson's Choice and Quatermass And The Pit. There'll be two new DVD and Blu-ray releases for the first two films, and a raft of promotional activity around Studiocanal's British titles, taking in as diverse films and The Railway Children and Tyrannosaur. There'll also be an exhibition of stills and artwork from some of Studiocanal's British titles at the aforementioned London Film Museum. The company's Mikey Ellis said: " As we've got such an extensive and interesting back catalogue of British titles, from Hammer through to Ealing and modern day classics from the likes of Warp, we are making the most of the current patriotic fervour around the Jubilee and the Olympics and are celebrating everything British. The campaign will run from now until the end of June and will not only be a DVD proposition but will encompass all of the various departments of Studiocanal including theatrical re-releases, TV seasons and digital platform awareness. There are over 300 titles included in the campaign, the hero title is our massive hit Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but in addition to this there are legendary classics such as the Wicker Man, Kind Heart and Coronets, Dambusters and Withnail And I, as well as modern day classics such as This Is England and Four Lions."

Our buzzwords of the week over here at The Raygun have been "augmented reality". The reason? An announcement from Universal that it has officially launched the first augmented reality DVDs and Blu-rays. What is it? Well, thanks to an app for smart phones and tablets, if you point your phone or iPad at the sleeves they will, through the phone itself, literally come to life. The 15 titles, taking in the likes of Back To The Future, King Kong and Jurassic Park, all come to life using an augmented reality technology from Aurasma. Tying in with the launch, visitors to three London locations (Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben) can see those three landmarks being taken over by characters from the aforementioned three films. We've tried it and it actually works too – we're going to upload images on our website shortly, go to the relevant app store, download the Universal 100 app and you too can see it. It's a genuinely exciting experience. Universal digital marketing manager Randel Bryan said: "To celebrate our 100th anniversary, we wanted to produce something truly exciting that film fans would want to cherish and collect and we feel that the Aurasma-enabled augmented reality sleeves have achieved this by bringing the magic of our movies into the palm of their hands. The Aurasma team have worked tirelessly to bring this project to life, and we hope that it will make the occasion memorable for many years to come.” The launch and the London landmark stunt have already garnered plenty of publicity for the releases…

Universal will be showing off augmented reality this Sunday in HMV's flagship Oxford Street store. Consumers will be able to get their picture taken with a classic Universal character, win and iPad and get an augmented reality tour of the store.

The day after that, Universal will be on the trail again for its 100th anniversary, this time taking assorted journalists, competition winners and more on an open-topped bus tour of London. The tour, accompanied by location manager Anthony Richards, who's worked on Universal titles such as Bridget Jones's Diary and Atonement. Destinations on the tour will include scenes used in Notting Hill, Love Actually, Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones The Edge Of Reason, Johnny English: Reborn, Children Of Men, Get Him To The Greek, Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang, Shakespeare In Love, Elizabeth, The Mummy Returns, Kick-Ass, The Bourne Ultimatum and more. Another smart idea from the major as part of its anniversary activity, expect coverage to appear from Monday, as one tour has already taken place…

Sticking with our distinctly British theme this week, and it's over to that British institution, the BFI. The organisation's video arm is set to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with a brace of royal-themed releases on May 28, A Royal Occasion and COI7, The Queen On Tour. As the BFI's Phil Roberts said: "A Royal Occasion: from Queen Victoria to Elizabeth II came about after an extensive search by our curators through the BFI National Archive to unearth over four hours of fascinating footage on a range of royalty-related subjects beginning as far back as 1896. This unique release contains many firsts: the first ever footage of a British monarch on film (Queen Victoria at Balmoral, which is newly restored), the first big British ceremonial event (Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897) and the first colour film of Trooping the Colour (1937). Volume Seven in the BFI's DVD series celebrates the films made by the Central Office of Information (COI) and presents wonderful colour footage of the Queen and the Royal Family travelling the world on official visits between 1953 and 1971. The COI - with unprecedented access to the royals - produced the 'official' record of royal tours and state visits and also commissioned and supervised a variety of retrospectives of the Queen and her family. These films will delight anyone with an interest in the monarchy, British history or the development of cinema."

Moving slightly further afield now, to Romania, and indie imprint Second Run DVD is gearing itself up for the imminent release of Tuesday, After Christmas, a tale of adultery from Romanian director Alexandra Baciu due on May 14, To mark the event, the director will fly in to the UK for a special screening of the film at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London on May 9. It is organised jointly by Second Run DVD and the Romanian Cultural Institute. The company's Chris Barwick said: "We’re delighted to have been able to release this title – a film that’s found itself amongst many ‘Best Films of 2011’, yet bizarrely had not secured a UK release. This subtle, frank and, most importantly, truthful study of the effects of adultery upon its three participants, is one of the most quietly devastating and intimate features of recent years. We’re also delighted to present this special one-off theatrical screening  at London’s Riverside with the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute , and with director Radu Muntean in attendance to help launch the DVD. Muntean is one of the leading lights of the so-called ‘Romanian New Wave’ and we’re immensely grateful that Radu has agreed to take time out from filming to come and support our release."

Staying in Europe, and last week we talked excitedly about Arrow's next slice of Nordic Noir, The Bridge, which we tipped to follow its illustrious predecessors such as The Killing and Borgen. And guess what? Its BBC4 bow was the biggest debut for an international series on the channel, pulling in a mightily impressive 1 million plus viewers last Saturday night. All of which bodes very well for the launch on May 21 of the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the series from Arrow's Nordic Noir imprint…

Another very homegrown title is Strippers Vs Werewolves, which we have featured on here a couple of times and which we keep on mentioning, mainly because it's got such a great title. The film premiered this week and, thanks to the presence of some of its saucy female cast, the film, due on May 7 on DVD and Blu-ray from Kaleidoscope, picked up plenty of coverage online and elsewhere this week (see the Daily Mail's predictably snide piece here, but let's not forget, it's the most visited newspaper website in the world)). Producer Jonathan Sothcott paid tribute to Kaleidoscope for the coverage and interest his film had received, saying: "Its been great working with Kaleidoscope on this title - Spencer [Pollard] and Adam [Sergeant] have pulled out all the stops for the release and embraced the brilliant concept wholeheartedly."

Also from Kaleidoscope: the company has this week announced another high profile acquisition, picking up The Penguin King, a $20 million family adventure about a, well, you guessed it, penguin. It is narrated by David Attenborough and will premiere at Cannes, ahead of a UK theatrical release and home entertainment bow in Q4. The company's SPencer Pollard said: "The Penguin King is a spectacular production that looks stunning in 3D. We feel this type of family film has a huge audience in the UK and internationally and we’re delighted to be working with a company of Atlantic Productions’ standing on the Worldwide distribution of the film. We’re sure there will be huge interest for its premiere in Cannes." 

Replication news now, and CD and DVD replicator Entertainment Distribution Company. EDC, has announced that it will be accepting orders for Blu-rays from August onwards, after a significant investment in state of the art Blu-ray technology. EDC's sales and marketing director Paul Murphy said: "Blu-ray gives us an additional service for our European film customers, as a company we are committed to offering the the broadest possible service for all our customers. We are particularly keen to further support independent labels for whom Blu-ray forms part of the future. We are looking forward to continuing to build our presence in this area of the market."

The new streaming offerings from the likes of LOVEFiLM and Netflix have not changed the pay TV market sufficiently to warrant being considered as serious competition to Sky Movies, regulator OFCOM has told the Competition Commission. The organisation is looking at  Sky’s market dominance and its deals for its services with the major studios, with a view to breaking them up. Sky has argued that the arrival of Netflix, LOVEFiLM boosting its service and other developments had changed the arena, but OFCOM stated: “We considered that first subscription pay-TV window movie content from the six major studios was particularly important to competition in the pay-TV sector. We do not see that the evidence presented means this assessment is no longer correct. Therefore we do not see that the new services from LOVEFiLM and Netflix have already addressed the issues identified in the Competition Commission's provisional findings, or that, in the absence of intervention, they can be relied on to do so in future.” Sky Movies has also announced that it is funding productions for airing on its channels, see Quote Of The Week below. 

Next week's big event is, of course, the BVA Awards, due to take place on Thursday night next week at the home for the event for the last few years, Old Billingsgate. And congratulations to all concerned, as the event has now sold out, with all seats being taken. That's no mean feat given the tough economic conditions facing the whole industry, and is testament to its pulling power. The Raygun, will, of course, be in attendance, we're looking forward to it. Now remember keep quiet during the awards and show some respect to the winners… Good luck to everyone nominated and we'll see you at the bar. Oh, and keep them peeled for an extra special award winners edition of The Raygun newsletter next week…

“There is a gap in the market, these films just don't exist. We are first and foremost making them for our UK customers, to drive subscriptions.”
Sky Movies director Ian Lewis announcing five or six productions a year, for films budgeted at around £5 million each, which will premiere at cinemas and on Sky Movies channels. All will be PG-rated, family friendly outings. s

As we’ve already noted, it’s been another cracking week for Lionsgate, with the highest new entry (from a bumper crop of 17 – count ‘em – new releases) in the top 10. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen took £1.17 million in its opening frame, and gives the company three of the top four, with The Hunger Games (now past £20 million and counting) and The Cabin In The Woods (£3.5 million) behind it. Battleship is still at number one, with £6 million in total receipts, with Gone (£275,087) the only other new entry at number 10.

This week has seen exhibitors and assorted cinema executives heading out to Las Vegas for the annual CinemaCon event, at which the major studios and others preview their 2012 line-ups and beyond. One of the projects that drew the most plaudits was The Life Of Pi, the Fox tale o a teen and a tiger adrift on the ocean. Around 10 minutes of the Ang Lee-helmed 3D title was shown and Fox execs likened it to the studio’s other groundbreaking titles, such as Titanic and Avatar. The film is due out at Christmas…

Overall, there was a positive reaction to the titles on offer, with Fox highlighting more of Prometheus, the Internet’s most talked about film, more from Ice Age and other returning franchises too beyond that (Die Hard, Percy Jackson, Wolverine and Planet Of The Apes). Another returning franchise, Spider-Man, dominated Sony’s presentation, and, from Universal, there was a sneak preview of its 2013 animated tentpole, Despicable Me 2.

Lionsgate, meanwhile, showed off Expendables 2, while Sacha Baron Cohen, plugging The Dictator, overtook the Paramount presentation. Warner showed off its twin behemoths of The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises and Disney announced a second film from the revitalised Muppets and plenty more Marvel outings: Thor 2 (November 2013), Iron Man 3 (May 2013) and a second Captain America (April 2014). Disney also showed off its Pixar slate, which included 2014’s The Good Dinosaur, which speculates, in the grand Pixar tradition, what might have happened if the dinosaurs weren’t wiped out… Disney also showed a package of recent highlights, although it neglected to include John Carter…

We’ve featured it before, but the word of mouth continues to build on Momentum’s The Raid. And much of that centres on web-based activity. Here’s a new clip and here’s its fan site,


Forthcoming from Metrodome…

And also forthcoming from Metrodome…

And here's The Rock, introducing the latest GI Joe trailer…

This is guaranteed to get you singing along…

We've seen this, it's simply breathtaking:

And here’s something a bit rude for The Five Year Engagement…

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