NEWSLETTER :: November 26 2010
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It was a good week for… Toy Story 3, smashing records and performing exceedingly well…

It was a bad week for… Toy Story Free, as one wag said to us, after seeing some of the low prices. As we noted, it's probably cheaper and easier to buy it when we're doing the big shop rather than blag it…

Toy Story 3 arrived on Monday and, in its first 24 hours on sale, had smashed, not one, not two, but, you guessed it, three records. Crash! It was the biggest ever day one for an animated title in the UK. Bang! It was the biggest every day one for an animated Blu-ray release. Wallop! It was Disney's most popular first day download ever via iTunes. It's the latest in a long line of remarkable achiEvements for the film, the biggest film released at UK cinemas in 2010. Disney didn't release exact figures, but industry estimates put the figure just shy of the 500,000 mark. Add rental, LOVEFiLM and Disney Store sales into that and you're looking at a figure well in excess of half a million on its first day. The big question now is where will the film end up after its first week of sales. It's an unknown quantity – there are enough copies out there to fill demand, but the plethora of offers at supermarkets (£5 when you spend £50 at Morrisons, £7 when you spend £30 at Sainsbury's and the likes) mean that no one knows exactly what the final figure will be…      

Meanwhile, more figures and the run-up to Christmas will see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo passing the 400,000 mark in sales, making it the year's most successful foreign language film. Momentum's carefully planned release strategy is continuing – you can't fail to have seen its recent marketing activity for the next theatrical release, the final part of the Stieg Larsson trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest (complete with tags for the Dragon Tattoo) – and it is now readying itself for the January 10 DVD release of the second outing, The Girl Who Played With Fire. It's effectively the first big release of 2011, and Momentum is using the lessons learnt with the Tattoo release and, given the more action-led content of The Girl Who Played With Fire, thinks it can reach an even wider audience. Momentum's Kristin Ryan said: "Our plans for Played With Fire DVD and BD release closely mirrors our strategy from Dragon Tattoo, engage the core fanbase and spiral out to mainstream DVD/BD buyers. This strategy has definitely paid off, The Girl trilogy has been one of the stand out success stories of 2010 and we predict continued success for 'our Girl' in 2011."

Momentum is enjoying a strong run of success at the minute and, after having seen its line-up for the first quarter (and beyond), it looks as if that is set to continue into 2011. Its enjoying success across the board, taking in DTV films (Beneath Hill 60, an Aussie first world war film has, for example sold almost 40,000 units), mainstream action fare and classier Britflicks and its slate for next year sees it offering up strong titles in all those areas. January alone sees DTV shark thriller The Reef (supported by TV advertising), London Film Festival hit Catfish (we've seen it and it really does live up to the hype), Oscar-nominated Middle East thriller Ajami (think more Gomorrah than anything too worthy), and Brit horror from the Vertigo stable, Outcast. Into February it has the Valentine's Day friendly Catherine Zeta Jones romcom The Rebound, more CSI Vegas and, at last, a release for hooligan classic Arrivederci Millwall. There's also Wake Wood, the first homegrown horror feature from the revitalised Hammer studio, and Damned By Dawn, an Evil Dead-alike. Into March and spring seems a suitable time to release middle England romp Tamara Drewe ("There's huge awareness for this, it's a really good opportunity, especially in the run-up to Mother's Day," said Kristin Ryan) and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, current box office hit, alien actioner Skyline, before Another Year, the gong-friendly latest from Mike Leigh, released in the middle of the awards-season. One of its most intriguing releases is the Asian remake of early Coen Brothers outing Blood Simple, A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop (although the title of the film itself may change, it has great pedigree, as Momentum's Clare Dundrow noted: "The film has fantastic pedigree, from the director of Hero and House Of Flying Daggers, and that really comes across in the cinematography – it's based on a great story from the Coen Brothers, it's totally unique."). Summing up, Kristin Ryan said: "Our Q1 line up is our strongest and most varied yet and ignites what is sure to be Momentum's most successful year."

More from Momentum, which has just inked a major content deal with LOVEFiLM. The deal will see a raft of titles from the distributor being offered for its digital streaming service, vastly boosting the number of titles the retailer is offering. The exclusive deal, lasting for one year, will see 30 new titles being made available to LOVEFiLM members as well as a selection from Momentum's back catalogue. New titles will include the aforementioned The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its sequels; catalogue titles on offer include the likes of 44 Inch Chest and Brooklyn's Finest. LOvEFiLM ceo Simon Calver said: "We successfully launched LOVEFiLM on the PS3 last week. These new, never-been-seen-before on subscription TV titles will drive growth on that new service in the heart of the living room. This deal is another great milestone for LOVEFiLM's streaming service, allowing us to further enhance our digital offering with a selection of must-watch titles from one of UK's leading studios. LOVEFiLM's exclusivity in this partnership will mean that we are the only digital outlet offering such quality titles - further securing our place as a leading provider in digital entertainment." Momentum's head of TV and new media sales Nick Smith added: "We are delighted to be working with LOVEFiLM to provide new and exclusive content for their constantly growing online offering and believe it to be the perfect platform from which lovers of independent films can access the best in current film entertainment."

To the Apollo Cinema in London's West End for the Industry Trust's AGM, where the organisation highlighted its work over the past year and looked to 2011 and beyond. Director general Liz Bales called on everyone in our business to act as ambassadors for anti-piracy and to help educate consumers about the damage copyright theft can do. Bales added that the industry needed to "look beyond today and the current challenge" and find the opportunities. A panel discussion with members including Richard Crampton from Sainsburys, 2 entertain ceo Paul Dempsey and others from Vue Cinemas, Disney, the Film Council, agency Loewy and SeeSaw. Crampton and Dempsey, the two panelists closest to our business, both made some of the best, and most interesting, contributions. Both said they were optimistic and also saw a future for packaged media. Crampton said: "We haven't really cracked the idea of a digital copy yet. Retailers can do an awful lot to help consumers understand." He added that customers should be aware of the consequences of "stealing" films by downloading. Dempsey highlighted the case of Top Gear, which was one of the most pirated TV programmes online on a global scale. BBC Worldwide "collapsed" international boundaries, made more content available via youtube and on DVD and helped eliminate some of that piracy. "It's all about getting the content to [the consumers]," he said.

One of the more fascinating elements was a presentation from Richard Seymour, of agency Seymour Powell, who left the audience open-mouthed with some of his comments and theories. He put forward some big ideas, with some big words and some words we didn't understand all… It was fascinating stuff indeed. It's far too long to print here, and much of it confidential, but let us give you this one nugget: "What's a pirate?" he said. "[It's] naughty, smart and sexy. It's not a bad word, it's an 'I like it' word." What, he asked, is the world's fastest growing drink? Captain Morgan. One of the world's biggest film franchises? "Pirates Of The Bleedin' Caribbean. It's time we started changing the language and get rid of something people use in their parlance. People think 'I want to be that'. It's not a stick, it's a carrot."

Interestingly enough, we were trawling a Torrent website recently, researching a feature for our website on the 10 most popular illegal downloads on offer, and pirates, conversely, were saying the opposite. The word, they claim, is associated with the nasty kind patrolling the waters off Africa and kidnapping innocent people. They prefer the fluffier term "sharers". For that feature, more of our My Inspiration, some trailers, assorted bits and bobs and our weekly round up of the week's press, click here.


Toy Story 3 has set the tills ringing this week, and we've also been tracking Amazon's Black Friday offers (heck, it's enabled us to get some early Christmas shopping done). Well, after Black Friday week at the online retailer, get ready for Manic Monday (or Cyber Monday, or Mega Monday as it's also been dubbed). Online price comparison site Kelkoo has forecast that next Monday, November 29, will be the busiest online shopping day of the year, with a whopping £537 million being spent online in a day – £22.4 million per hour. It further estimated that 22 per cent of festive spending will be made online.

Eagle-eyed viewers who watch Soda's Father Of Girls will have noticed one familiar name as associate producer – Alan McQueen. The industry legend, who has worked in and around the industry and was one of the driving forces behind the growth of world cinema, is turning his hand once more to production, and the Ray Winstone starrer is one of those titles. It premiered last weekend  and is due on DVD via Soda Pictures on March 7 2011. McQueen said: "The opportunity to work with Ray Winstone and Karl Howman (writer/director) was great. Vibrant British talent making personal films makes for a wonderful working environment and we are starting on the next project."

As we noted last week, Universal Playback has scored a major hit with Downton Abbey (and the Blu-ray is due to arrive in stores on Monday) and, fresh from its success, the imprint is due to follow up that success with another high profile TV series, Any Human Heart, due on December 27. The series has benefited from the full weight of Channel 4's marketing muscle, including a major supplement in last weekend's Observer newspaper. Universal Pictures' Eleanor Fraser said: "Any Human Heart is the perfect complement to Downton Abbey, though and should help to fill the gap felt by so many fans of quality drama in the absence of the further adventures of the Crawley family. As such we will be adopting a very similar stance with Any Human Heart as we took with Downton Abbey – targeting mainstream media through a combination of marketing, PR and sales activity that will target a very similar audience whilst also complementing the attention-grabbing campaign that has been put in place by Channel 4 around the terrestrial airing of the series." There will be third party tie-ins with Penguin Books, Macdonald Hotels and Warner Leisure and Universal will be investing in advertising across Video On Demand, 4OD and ITV Player, targeting key female programming, and is also advertising on female-friendly websites.


Channel 4's Misfits is currently firing on all cylinders on its transmission, ahead of the forthcoming 4DVD release (see previous newsletters) and you can't have failed to notice the brouhaha surrounding this Friday's return of Peep Show. The series is getting the full weight of Channel 4's admirable marketing machine behind it, and stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb have been interviewed everywhere over the past week. It is also one of 4DVD's biggest brands and the company is now gearing itself up for the December 27 release of the latest series. 4DVD's Karla Berry said: "We have two strong releases on December 27; Peep Show being Channel 4’s longest running sitcom with an existing dedicated fan base, and Misfits, E4’s new hot brand which has recently doubled its viewing figures in the same way that Inbetweeners audience figures doubled from series 1 to series 2, from 500,000 to 1 million viewers."    

The tragic death of comic legend Norman Wisdom recently has reawakened interest in his work and, with the bulk of his catalogue in its library and a gorgeous box set released before his passing, ITV Studios Home Entertainment has seen a surge in sales. And as a result of the spike, its box set, the Norman Wisdom Collection, arguably the definitive work, featuring 12 Wisdom films such as the classic Trouble In Store, will now benefit from a TV campaign. The marketing push will air from December 1 on ITV channels. ITV Studios Home Entertainment's Kate Walker said: "We will be running a 10 second ad campaign on ITV1 and ITV3 in December to inspire gifters to choose the Norman Wisdom Collection this Christmas. The ad is voiced by the marvellous Richard Briers, who had actually worked with Norman himself and seemed pretty chuffed to be recording the ad for us. He was also very pleased with a copy for himself." We'll be previewing the ad on our website shortly.

They say there's no such thing as good publicity, and that's certainly the case when it comes to Simon Amstell and his DVD release Do Nothing, from Universal. Amstell hit the headlines when he appeared on BBC Breakfast this week to plug the release and made a remark about Russell Watson ("we've got to get Russell on with his tumour", Amstell wisecracked) that upset some of the more, er, sensitive viewers – and a whole lot of tabloid newspapers too, with the story appearing in many. His remarks flummoxed the presenters, who were briefly silenced, only for them to return with the classic line "Simon's DVD Do Nothing is out on November 22…". As another old saying goes, "as long as they spell your name right", to which we could add "and get the correct release date too…"


Publicity stunt of the week goes to Fox and its agency Premier for the launch of The A Team on Monday. They teamed up with celebrity hairdresser Jason Shankey and today his Fulham salon is offering a free Mohawk haircut to anyone who asks for a "BA" in honour of the film's BA and his famous hairstyle. They further enlisted the help of Mr England, Vaughan Bailey, to get his hair cut into a Mohawk. Sadly we can't get over there today, but we recommend you make your way to the salon…    

As the moustaches around the industry continue to bloom for the charity effort Movember (we saw Anthony Peet from Disney's at the Industry Trust AGM and it was certainly flourishing), and Children In Need is over, some fundraisers are looking even further ahead… Elevation's Tom Langlands is running the London Marathon in April 2011, but he's started training already and has hit upon a brilliant idea to help raise cash for his chosen charity, St Wilfred's Hospice. Anyone who donates now is being asked to nominate a song (four minutes long or less) that he'll listen to as he pounds the pavements, either in training or for the 26 mile plus event itself. Go to to sign up… And check his My Inspiration on our website too…

And finally, keep an eye out for this week's Times Educational Supplement (TES), as one of The Raygun's junior correspondents had his first full review published in the newspaper's magazine supplement. Milo Murray reviewed DreamWorks/Paramount's How To Train Your Dragon as part of the magazine's Filmclub reviews section, run in conjunction with the organisation. He already helps contribute to our unique Twitter marking system, but this is his first fully published "freelance" work…


It's been a busy week for The Raygun… On Tuesday we were at the Industry Trust AGM with the great and good of the industry. Wednesday saw the Christmas party season kick off nice and early with Eyeframe's bash at the Century Club (loads of familiar faces, one of our favourite venues, a lit-up dancefloor and the best music we've heard at an industry bash for a long time). On Thursday we were at Paramount's launch for Dexter at the Old Abattoir in Clerkenwell (an amazing venue, with swathes of dry ice, a real crime scene and an amazing eye for detail), before heading off to agency Shine's bash in Covent Garden, replete with on-stage dancing and a fantastic book about key trends we're now working our way through.     

"Cameron's ignorance is staggering. Doesn't he realise that the profits American blockbusters generate go back to the States? The sad thing is his view of films as shallow entertainment demeans the great possibility of cinema. His bookshelves must only contain American airport novels but what can we expect from a pompous yob from the Bullingdon Club? The Philistinism of this Government in particular is shocking but that's what we should expect from people like Cameron. I think he wants cinema to provide a little high entertainment while he demolishes the NHS and creates mass unemployment. If he thinks no-one will notice, he has another thing coming." Film director and all round genius Ken Loach responds to last week's quote of the week from PM David Cameron about the kind of movies the British film industry should be making.  

Warner's Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows dominated the box office last weekend, taking in £18.3 million, the biggest three day opening ever. The film swept all the competition aside, the only other new entry was Bollywood title Guzaarish.  

The comic book rumour mill has taken a break from Batman and Spider-Man (only briefly, we reckon) and this week concentrating instead on Superman, due to be helmed by Zack Snyder, who's already turned his hand to other comic book adaptations (300, Watchmen). Currently in the frame: Matthew Goode is tipped to play Clark Kent and his alter-ego, Anne Hathaway is in the frame to play Lois Lane and, like The Green Lantern, Superman's suit will be entirely computer generated…

It was first discussed a few years back, but it has now been confirmed that The Lone Ranger is on his way. The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film will have Pirates Of the Caribbean's Gore Verbinski at the helm and he'll be reuniting with Johnny Depp, who's slated to play Tonto. No word on the Lone Ranger yet…

Fascinating to see a screen showing live tweets at the Dexter Live event at the Old Abattoir (see above)… An excellent promotional use of the medium. See it here and follow us on

Catfish: everything it's cracked up to be. We laughed, we cried, we sat open-mouthed…

A post-Twilight take on a classic fairy story…

Liam Neeson continues that unlikely action hero thing…

This trailer went up for a bit, disappeared, now it's back again…

The next outing from Duncan "Moon" Jones has been picking up a lot of Internet chatter…

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