NEWSLETTER :: June 3 2010

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It Was A Good Week For... Alice, due tomorrow and shaping up nicely... 
It Was A Bad Week For... Illegal downloaders...The net, it appears, is closing in...

It's somewhat fitting that in the week that it passed the $1 billion mark in terms of global receipts, WDSHE is releasing Tim Burton's latest outing Alice In Wonderland, due tomorrow. WDSHE's marketing is now being seen across the board, with highlights including Stephen Fry voicing above the line ads that are in line with the weight of WDSHE's previous blockbuster Up. It has hooked up with the likes of and The National Trust, while the publicity campaign features loads of talent involvement. What's more, the Friday release date (remember them? They were all the rage a few years ago and, logistics aside, make a nice change) gives Alice the chance to domnate stores for something like 10 days...

Meanwhile, plaudits should be sent in the direction of Lionsgate for its high profile release this week of Daybreakers, as we at The Raygun seem to have seen it everywhere over the past few days. Interesting to note that it is a rarity, in that the film was a 15 certificate at cinemas, but Lionsgate reinstated the six seconds trimmed and it was upped to an 18 certificate. After a strong start in the week, it is set to continue with with marketing activity sustained for a minimum of one week post release...

On The Raygun website this week: a look at Metrodome's Blu-ray for Donnie Darko. Martin Scorsese's top 10 box office earners, Momentum's Q3 in depth and some amazing footage filmed on a camcorder inside a cinema (don't worry, it's legitimate...) See here for more:

So, the countdown to the World Cup is upon us and few can really tell of the likely impact. But as the sun comes out (well, it's shining over N13 this morning), is the industry all set to shut up shop for June and July? A lot depends on England's performance, and the tournament has, traditionally, affected rental more than any other sector. It's a conundrum – the traditional DVD buying audience (twenty- and thirty-something males) will be glued to the telly, guaranteeing advertisers (for DVDs, obviously) the perfect opportunity to reach this much-sought after demographic, but will they be watching anything else but football? Similarly, Father's Day falls in the middle of the first round of matches, but will males be able to prise themselves away from anything that's not football related? "Environmentally and audience-wise it's the perfect time to release a film," said Icon's Chris Warrington, whose company is releasing Edge Of Darkness on June 14 (see Release Of The Week below for more).  "It could be seen as a threat but we think it’s an opportunity. But people will want to watch more than just football." Retailers such as LOVEFiLM are organising their own activity, its Extra Time promotion is offering free online films and programming for the duration. And it is driving traffic to its site by offering one new signup per day during the June 11 to July 11 period the chance to win £500 cash. Chief marketing officer Smon Morris added: "The World Cup is a massive draw but it's also a fantastic opportunity for us to focus on film fans and those not as interested in football. We believe it's the biggest ever digital promotion ever known and will open up a huge amount of content to our members to encourage awareness of the LOVEFiLM Player. There's also an added incentive for newcomers too as we're giving cash away daily. The jury's still out, but it's going to be an interesting month, and not just for the football."

There's one other ceremony that has arguably the same gravitas as the World Cup, although this is a lot closer to home and organised within our industry. June 21 sees the release of Revolver's Zombie Women Of Satan (already featured in a link to the Guardian's Cannes coverage) and to mark the event, the supplier has organised the inaugural Miss Zombie Queen UK beauty pageant. The event is timed with the release and is taking place on June 16 in London's Cobden Club. The evening will also see burlesque performances, DJs and live band Killer B Movie playing, with the winner of the event getting the chance to appear in the forthcoming Zombie Women Of Satan 2. Revolver's Mike Hewitt said: "To celebrate the release of the brilliantly-titled Zombie Women Of Satan, what better way than to organise the UK’s first ever Zombie Queen beauty pageant. The take up so far, both in entrants and attendees has been fantastic, proving the UK’s appetite for zombie action is far from waning, and we are now seriously considering making this an annual event, with a possibility of rolling out the idea to other countries so that hopefully by next year we will even be able to stage a Miss World Zombie Queen."

In other Revolver-related news, the company is also moving office shortly. Much as we like its previous West London offices (especially having a barbecue outside, no matter what the weather, at its summer parties), its outgrown its current premises and the new HQ boasts a 30-seat screening room. The new address is Revolver Entertainment, 48 & 49 Princes Place, Holland Park, London, W11 4QA.
Back to the World Cup, and those Hammersmith-based companies (or anyone else who likes being among 3,000 shouty football fans) might like to note that the hmvapollo, is screening all England's big games in the tournament for free on its gigantic screen (equivalent to four double decker buses). Doors open 90 minutes before kick-off on June 12 for USA, June 18 versus Croatia and June 23 for the Slovenia game, and for England's games should they progress, with the choice of standing terrace style in the stalls or seating in the circle. There'll also be competitions, DJs and, of course, lots of booze. WDSHE and others should queue at (there is a transaction fee attached). See you down the front.

More World Cup news, albeit a different sport this time. And it's not often that you can say that England has won a World Cup, but, in case you missed it, our cricket team did just that a few weeks back, scooping the ICC World T20 trophy (Twenty20 cricket, to you and me). Ever-enterprising Fremantle has picked up the DVD rights to this remarkable achievement (one that saw Paul Collingwood joining illustrious England captains in other sports such as Bobby Moore and rugby's Martin Johnson in lifting a prestigious trophy of this magnitude) and is now readying itself for the June 14 release of The ICC World T20 Highlights: England Champions Of The World. Marketing will include advertising around release in the Sunday Times, Metro, Star, Sport magazine, Sunday Telegraph and online banner spots on and others, as well as PR activity focusing on sports and DVD websites and radio stations. Fremantle is also aiming to secure one of the players for their support. Cricket fan (and Fremantle svp) Pete Kalhan said: " We are delighted to be distributing the English cricket team's first ever World Cup success.  With another World cup round the corner, can the football team follow the glorious success of the cricketing boys.... Or will the T20 cricket trophy be the only World Cup coming back to England this summer."

Right, back to the real world and some proper, hard-hitting news stuff. The whole world, or at least UK geeks, had all gone quiet on the controversial Digital Economy Act, what with the election and all that, but it reared its head again last week with the publication of a draft code of practice from regulator Ofcom last week. The code outlined will happen to illegal downloaders following the introduction of the act. According to Ofcom, internet service providers (ISPs) will collect details on illegally downloading customers from next year, ready to send warning letters to them. Users sent three letters in a year will have their details handed over to copyright owners, with a view to prosecution. Ofcom will monitor the extent of illegal filesharing activity on a quarterly basis, to see if the Act and associated warnings are having an effect. Ofcom is taking consultation until the end of next month. For more (and the usual bleating from ISPs and angry consumers – yawn) see here.

Also in the anti-piracy world, the Industry Trust for IP Awareness picked up a gong last week for its You Make The Movies campaign. It was made in the entertainment, culture and sport category of the European Sabre and went to the Trust and its agencies, Blue Rubicon, Blue Barracuda, Carat and Creative Partnership.  Trust director general Liz Bales said: "This is a fantastic achievement, and one which is testament to the innovation which underpinned the campaign. You Make The Movies is emblematic of the Trust's role in educating film and TV fans on the part they play in the creation of content, and thus their responsibility to protect it. To win this award for the third year in a row is absolutely brilliant, so Blue Rubicon and our other partner agencies can take a bow for making this possible." See it here.

There's been a few changes on the jobs front in recent days. Over at LOVEFiLM there's been a high profile appointment in the shape of high flying media executive Dawn Airey, who has become a non-executive director at the online retailer. Airey is currently chairman and chief executive at Five and has worked at BskyB and ITV among others. LOVEFiLM chairman Charles Gurassa said: "Dawn’s finger is right on the pulse of the entertainment industry.  LOVEFiLM has grown not only to become the leading European subscription-based film and TV rental business, but now the market leader in streaming directly to PCs and internet-enabled TVs. Dawn's counsel in the board room will be enormously helpful in driving LOVEFiLM forward in these exciting times."

Over at E1, meanwhile, md Richard Bridgwood is stepping down from the company on July 2. He founded Contender Entertainment Group – bought by Canadian E1 in 1997 giving them an in into the UK market – some 15 years ago and helped bring Peppa Pig, among others, to consumers. In the past three years the company has seen its turnover treble. Current finance director Charles Ogilvie will step up into the role of chief operating officer, liaising with Jon Bourdillon and Alex Hamilton, heads of home entertainment and theatrical respectively. Bridgwood said: "I've been delighted to oversee the integration of Contender into the Entertainment One group which has delivered all that I could have wished for the company. I’m proud to leave the business in great hands and in great shape with a terrific line up for the next few years." Ogilvie added: "I look forward to providing the guidance for the development and continued growth of all areas of our business."

Part of our Donnie Darko piece (see the website for more) was penned by industry veteran (we've been dying to call him that for ages) Toby Weidmann, who has written the sleevenotes for Metrodome's release. Well, it is with great pleasure that we can announce that the former timecode and RRP editor (and a close pal of ours) is joining the independent as product manager, replacing Nick Tay, who has moved on to Optimum Releasing. Weidmann starts next week and we wish him all the best. Metrodome's Jezz Vernon said: "We’re delighted that Toby will be joining our marketing team at Metrodome, his years of industry experience and breadth of knowledge will be a huge asset to the department."

Meanwhile, as part of the merry-go-round, Optimum was pleased with its appointment of Tay to its marketing team. Marketing manager Mikey Ellis said: "We’re really pleased to welcome Nick as a new member of the home entertainment team at Optimum. His wealth of marketing experience that he has gained working at Metrodome across both theatrical and DVD releases will be invaluable especially when considering the wealth of DTV and platform releases we have scheduled for the coming quarters. He’s only been here for a couple of weeks and already feels like an established part of the team."

Speaking of E1, as we were earlier, the company has also announced a clutch of Cannes acquisitions. Its UK slate will be bolstered by the likes of the latest take on The Three Musketeers, starring, among others, Orlando Bloom and Matthew McFayden. It also also picked up the rights to the wonderfully-titled Norwegian Ninja and Lemmy, a documentary on the life of the legendary Motorhead frontman.

More acquisitions news, this time from Universal Pictures and its indi VISION imprint. The company has inked a deal for the UK home entertainment rights to vampire flick Suck, which blends the current horror genre du jour with plenty of raucous rock music from the likes of Iggy Pop, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Alice Cooper. Cooper and Pop both star alongside Henry Rollins, Malcolm McDowell and, er, Moby. Indi VISION's Samantha Haycock said: "Suck is a cult classic in the making and desinted to join Rocky Horror Picture Show and This Is Spinal Tap in the music movie hall of fame. It is a perfect complement to the indi VISION catalogue."

Arguably the most exciting release news of the week has got to be ITV Studios' plans to release a best of programme featuring the highlights of Sky's surprise hit Pineapple Dance Studios. The Raygun is a huge fan of this programme, which has turned the likes of Louis Spence and Andrew Stone into near-household names, alternating our Sunday evening viewing between cheering, dancing and hiding behind cushions. ITV Studios will be releasing the DVD on July 26. Expect a whole load of clips for fans and the uninitiated on our website soon.  

Speaking of Andrew Stone, from Pineapple Dance Studios, we had the pleasure of seeing his band Star Man performing live at last weekend's London MCM Expo. While that element may not have been the weekend's most packed showcase, the event itself was a huge success. The show was the most successful in its history, pulling in 41,000 people over two days. As well as a world record for the largest handheld game console party ever, and the requisite teens dressed up in costumers, there were also a fair few DVD operators exhibiting. Commenting on the event, Manga's Jerome Mazandarani said: "The London MCM Expo has yet again proven to be the perfect meeting place for the game, anime, comics and event film community." The next event takes place in late October, for more on the last event, keep an eye on our website for a feature going up next week.

Depressing reading corner: International sales of DVDs, Blu-ray and other packaged media fell by 3 per cent to just over $17 billion in 2009. That is expected to slip even further over the following five years to $14.5 billion by 2014. Perhaps the most depressing was that average Blu-ray purchases among owners of standalone players and PS3 machines were just 1.5 over the year. The figures were released by Screen Digest.    

More cheery news, or rather not, from Spain - a territory that some studios have been threatening to pull out of due to rampant piracy, particularly of the online variety. Reports released this week suggest that a whopping $6 billion plus was lost to online piracy across entertainment sectors in the second half of last year. As well as costing the struggling Spanish government almost $2 billion in lost tax revenue last year, online piracy accounts for more than 80 per cent of all online movie consumption. There were more than 1 million illegal downloads of films in December alone last year – making it among the world's worst offenders. It's not all bad news, more than half of illegal downloaders would be prepared to pay for their films, and although Apple has yet to launch its iTunes store in the territory, Sony does offer downloads via its PlayStation store.

"Please feel free to leave your house open every time you go out and please tell your family to do so, please invite people in the streets to come in and take things from you, not to make money out of it by reselling it but just to use it for themselves and help themselves. If you think it's normal they take my work for free, I'm sure you will give away all your furniture and possessions and your family will do the same. I can also send you my bank account information since apparently you work for free and your family too so since you have so much money you should give it away."
Hurt Locker producer Nicolas Chartier's alleged response to a webhead who complained about his company Voltage's plans to sue 5,000 illegal downloaders of the Oscar-winning film. The long-rumoured legal case (reported on previous editions of The Raygun) is now happening...

Icon's purple patch continues with the June 14 release of the film from the man who helped form the company (even if he no longer has any involvement with the UK operation), Mel Gibson. Edge Of Darkness is based on the classic BBC political thriller, although Icon's home entertainment release is eschewing mention of the BBC and conspiracy theory angles and playing up its action thriller credentials and the involvement of Gibson and his ever-popular co-star, Ray Winstone. "We're positioning it as an action-packed revenge thriller and at certain times and areas of the campaign, as the perfect Father's Day gift," said Icon's head of marketing Chris Warrington. That element will have the Clint Eastwood-esque tagline Make Father's Day. Its TV campaign will be of a blockbuster level and appear around football-related programming on terrestrial TV, as well as digital and satellite channels. Radio too will concentrate on football-friendly programming and stations such as TalkSport. As well as online advertising targeting action and thriller friendly sites, there will also be a presence on facebook and the likes, aimed at drawing a younger audience, some as gifters for Father's Day. Pubs – a popular destination for football fans during the tournament – will be targeted via washroom advertising.

Predictably enough, especially given the brouhaha surrounding its release, Sex And The City 2 entered the charts at number one, taking in £6.1 million in its opening frame, edging out StreetDance 3D, which has now taken more than £5.2 million. The Tooth Fair (£844,889), Space Chimps 2 (£434,883) and The Losers (£391,938) were among the other new entries. In the US, the fourth Shrek outing, Forever After, held off holiday weekend challenges from the likes of Prince Of Persia and has now taken more than £146 million.

When we saw headlines to the effect that Cameron was weighing in to the Gulf oil spill disaster, we kind of automatically assumed it meant the new prime minister, David Cameron. Oh, how foolish and naïve we were. The reports were, of course, referring to a true political and environmental champion, Avatar and Titanic director James Cameron. Seems as if Cameron, the man behind the two most successful films ever, is something of an expert when it comes to underwater technology thanks to the aforementioned blockbuster and his earlier work, The Abyss. He has already offered BP the use of his own "private fleet" of submarines and underwater craft to help investigate the Deepwater disaster and this week he took part in a "listening session" and discussion with scientists, engineers and US government officials in Washington to debate how best to solve the problem that BP is struggling with. Now, much as we admire Cameron, and believe his expertise in this field, doesn't it all sound a bit, you know, Bon villain-esque to you? Private fleet? Submarines? The spookiest bit, of course, is that the oil company in The Abyss was Benthic Petroleoum. Aka BP...

More on the never-ending sage of Transformers 3. Rosie Huntington Whiteley has been confirmed for the role that appears to have the name "female lead". We're still laughing at low-rent US celeb Heidi Montag's "audition" here Better still is Ben Kingsley's take here


The Twitterverse, or whatever it's called this week, is dominated by Sex And The City 2, or SATC2, to give it its abbreviated, 140-character friendly title. And as mentioned previously, loads of buzz around The Works/Universal's Noel Clarke thriller


Not quite a trailer, but a (legitimate) marketing initiative from Universal, offering up the first five minutes of Russell Brand starrer Get Him To The Greek. And it works – we wanted more.
And lo, it came to pass that the new Scott Pilgrim trailer was posted and the Internet collapsed under the weight...

Talking of the Internet, this documentary is kind of beyond post-web, post-modern...
Best. Dinner. Ever.

We've interviewed former Doors man (not, we hasten to add, doorman) John Densmore for the forthcoming documentary When You're Strange, been to the London MCM Expo and also caught a preview of Shrek Forever After (we always update our twitterfeed after this kind of happening, by the way). And while we weren't there in person, the footage of that Birdemic premiere, on our website, is outstanding.  

Alice In Wonderland (WDSHE)

The Apple (Artificial Eye)
Arsenal FC Season Review 09/10 (ITV Studios)
Ballykissangel Series 6 (2 entertain)
The Beekeeper (Artificial Eye)
Bleach Series 4 Part 3 (Manga)
The Bold And The Brave (Optimum)
Border Post (HB Films)
Brothers (Lionsgate) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Cannibal Apocalypse (Optimum)
Chelsea FC Season Review 2009/2010 (Spirit)
Chris Ryan’s Strike Back (2 entertain)
CSI Miami Complete Season 7 (Momentum)
Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 (HBO)
Disgaea Collection (MVM)
Doctor Who Series 5 V1 (2 entertain)
Eagles Over London (Optimum)
The End of Love (Network)
The Essential Claude Chabrol Volume 2 (Artificial Eye)
Exam (SPHE)
Fate Stay Night 6 (MVM)
Flickers The Complete Series (Network)
Food Inc (Dogwoof)
The Foursome (SHowbox)
Gantz Complete Collection (MVM)
Genius Of Britain (4DVD)
The Genius Of Design (Acorn)
Gunparade March Collection (MVM)
Home (Universal)
Homecoming (Momentum)
Horrid Henry’s Football Fiends (Abbey)
Housebroken (Showbox)
The Incredible Hulk (Clear Vision)
Kurosawa Samurai Collection (BFI)
La La Land (ITV DVD)
Lazytown Football Crazy (2 entertain)
Liverpool FC Season Review 09/10 (ITV Studios)
The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue (Optimum)
Lizard In A Woman’s Skin (Optimum)
Mahoromatic - Something More Beaufitul 1 (MVM)
Merantau Warrior (E1 Entertainment)
The Narrows (High Fliers)
National Geographic: Extreme Universe (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Ultimate Bears Box Set (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Giant Pandas The Last Refuge (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Great Bear Rainforest (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Search for the Ultimate Bear (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Baby Tales (Fremantle)
National Geographic: 6 Degrees Could Change the World (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Incredible Human Machine (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Secret Yellowstone (Fremantle)
Pacific True Stories (Revolver)
Ponyo (DVD and Blu-ray)
A Prophet (Optimum) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Psych: Season 2 (Universal Playback)
Red Sun (Optimum)
Ripple Effect (High Fliers)
Robo-Geisha (Cine Asia)
Saracen The Complete Series (Network)
See How They Fall (Optimum)
Silent Witness Series 5 and 6 (2 entertain)
A Single Man (Icon)
Small Island (ITV Studios)
South Africa Walks Julia Bradbury (Acorn)
Spider-Man 5000 (Clear Vision)
Step-By-Step Strength (Acacia)
The Story Of Science (2 entertain)
Suddenly Last Winter (Network)
Top Gear The Challenges 4 (2 entertain)
Under The Stars (HB Films)
U2 360 In The Rose Bowl (Mercury)
The Valdez Horses (Optimum)
Waterloo Road Series 5 (Acorn)
The Wolfman (Universal)

The African Queen Special Restoration Edition (ITV Studios)
Al Murray The Pub Landlord Crown Jewels Collection (ITV Studios)
American Dad Season 5 (Fox)
Chanbara Striptease (Manga)
Crazy Heart (Fox)
The Cup (2 entertain)
The Dam Busters Special Edition (Optimum) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Dear Mother Love Albert (Network)
Doctor Who Kamelion Box (2 entertain)
Edge Of Darkness (Icon)
Father & Son (2 entertain)
Fireman Sam (HIT)
Harry Hill The Golden Boxset (ITV Studios)
The Haunting Of Molly Hartley (Icon)
The ICC World T20 Highlights: England Champions Of The World (Fremantle)
Invictus (Warner)
Legends Of Comedy (2 entertain)
Manchester United End Of Season 2009/2010 (2 entertain)
My Friends Tigger And Pooh (WDSHE)
My Name Is Khan (Fox)
Naruto Shippuden Box Set 1 (Manga)
Naruto Unleashed Complete Series 8 (Manga)
Not The Messiah (He’s A very Naughty Boy (SPHE)
The Office Complete Season 4 (Universal Playback)
The Rolling Stones In Exile (Eagle Vision)
Small Island (ITV Studios)
The Story Of India (2 entertain)
The Story Of The Rugby World Cup 1995 (Lace)
UFC 110 (Clear Vision)
WWE No Way Out 2002 (Clear Vision)
Bear (Metrodome)
Brothers Bloom (Optimum)
Death At A Funeral (Sony)
Girl On The`Train (Soda)
Kicks (New Wave)
The Killer Inside Me (Icon)
She's Out Of My League (Paramount)
Shrink (Lionsgate)
Videocracy (Dogwoof)

Black Death (Revolver)
Bronco Bullfrog (BFI)
Brooklyn's Finest (Momentum)
Greenberg (Universal)
H2Oil (Dogwoof)
Letters To Juliet (E1)
Shed Your Tears And Walk Away (ICO)
Women Without Men (Artificial Eye)

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