BLOCKBUSTER FILES IN THE US
LOVEFILM CHILLS WITH FROZEN…
AS AMAZON LOOKS ON
THIS WEEK ON THE WEBSITE
PIRATE JAILED FOR CINEMA RECORDINGS
AND FLIPS AGAIN
'GRAVE' BANNED AGAIN
AND 'ZOMBIES' STRIKE ONCE MORE
EONE PICKS UP DEAD…
…AND GETS TORTURED TOO
HIGH FLIERS ENJOYS 'KNIGHTS'
REVOLVER'S DOC NIGHTS
WHEN PR STUNTS GO BAD
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
RELEASE OF THE WEEK – BROOKLYN'S FINEST
AT THE MOVIES
TWEET OF THE WEEK
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
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It Was A Good Week For... All of us, as the scourge of filming in cinemas was fully punished…It Was A Bad Week for… Pirates, hit in the UK and US…
After much speculation, US rental giant Blockbuster today (Thursday) filed for Chapter 11 "bankruptcy reorganisation", which allows a company that can't pay its creditors to restructure and refinance with breathing space from paying its debts. If the restructuring plan is agreed, it can emerge from Chapter 11, if it doesn't work the company moves into liquidation. The move has long been anticipated, but what is fascinating is the list of debtors. Its main unsecured creditor is the Bank Of New York Mellon, owed $315 million, although most of the major studios are owed, from Fox ($21.5 million) through Warner ($19 million), Sony ($13.3 million), Disney ($8.6 million) and Universal ($8.3 million). Lionsgate, Summit and Starz/Anchor Bay are also owed seven figure sums. While it is restructuring, consumers will see little difference, the retailer said, with its stores still trading. Chairman/ceo Jim Keyes said: "We are continuing to provide our customers with the same outstanding convenience, service and value that have defined Blockbuster from the start, while we take action to become financially stronger. We look forward to continuing to provide our customers with the best, most convenient access to brand new releases and to continuing to enhance the Blockbuster experience." Expect this one to run and run.
This Friday sees Momentum's Frozen begin a limited theatrical run at cinemas, and, like last weekend's The Horde, it should draw interest from film reviewers, raising awareness for its October 18 retail release. That awareness will be significantly aided too by a two and a bit week run as a LOVEFiLM exclusive, beginning on October 1. It also marks the first time a film has been available from the rentailer both as a rental by post DVD and Blu-ray offering as well as being able to view online via the LOVEFiLM player. The multi-platform release of the chiller (and it quite literally is a chiller) will be supported by a site takeover at LOVEFiLM, including digital website overlays. There will also be a microsite hosting film content as well as a facebook wall. A screening has already been hosted and the title will be featured on a run of 500,000 LOVEFiLM envelopes sent out to members. Momentum's Adam Eldrett said: "With Frozen set to become a hit in the UK, launching a multi-tiered release – for the first time via the LOVEFiLM platform – gives us the opportunity to bring movie content to film-lovers via a number of different channels. LOVEFiLM has put together a unique package and we are looking forward to the film’s special online launch before it makes a full retail debut on DVD and Blu-ray from October 18." LOVEFiLM's chief marketing officer Simon Morris said: "This is the first time we’ve partnered with a major film studio to release a title using our entire consumer platform including DVD and Blu-ray rental, watching online and direct-to-TV through the LOVEFiLM Player – further confirming LOVEFiLM as a leading force in driving film awareness in the UK."
While we're on LOVEFiLM, last weekend's Sunday Times featured speculation that Amazon had made a bid for the rental by post company; one which valued it at around the £200 million mark. Amazon already has a stake in the company, after buying into it when it merged its rental operation with LOVEFiLM's. Watch this space for more…
Momentum's The Horde, mentioned above, featured heavily in last weekend's entertainment press coverage. For a full round-up of all the weekend's DVD and Blu-ray reviews and press features and coverage (like the LOVEFiLM bid), check the regular Monday morning update on our website, http://www.theraygun.co.uk/. Also on the website this week, an interview with former WWE wrestler Steve Austin, a look at the revenge of the nerds and Anchor Bay's Fanboys, and much, much more. And there's also the latest contributions in our HMV-supported My Inspiration feature. Click here
Talking of press coverage, good to see that one of the most heartening stories of the week getting so much positive coverage in the national press. When we say heartening, it made for positive reading for most in the industry, although for Emmanuel Nimley, who this week began a six month jail sentence, it may not be as much fun. He was convicted of recording films in a cinema and uploading them on the Internet – only the third person to be convicted of illegally recording a film in the cinema and the first to receive a prison sentence. He was nabbed after three films (The Crazies, Alice In Wonderland and Green Zone) were uploaded within 24 hours of UK theatrical release and identified by watermark as emanating from the Vue cinema in Harrow, north west London. He was then spotted filming The Bounty Hunter on an iPhone and arrested. He admitted four charges of possession of a mobile phone for use in fraud, three of copying a film for use in fraud and three of breaching copyright by distributing a film. While accepting that he was not gaining financially, judge John Anderson told him: "It may be suggested in some quarters especially among young people that this is harmless fun and film in the cinema is fair game. It is not. Your action was a deliberate cheat on the film companies and the film industry. Fraudulently making and distribution of copies for whatever purpose and whatever quality has the effect of depriving the film industry of revenue. In current society it's difficult to imagine an audience wider than the internet having access to such illegal material. Your dishonesty strikes at the heart of that industry. This was deliberately planned and carefully executed offending which I have no doubt would have continued if you had not been caught."
We've already looked at one retailer exclusive, and, in a somewhat different vein, it's interesting to see that the BFI has hooked up with online record retailer Boomkat (one that deals in genres some of our readers may never have heard of, while other electronic or dance music enthusiasts will be more than familiar with its offering of everything from abstract electronica through to dubstep and grime) for an impending release. Boomkat will be offering a special collection of the BFI's COI films with music completed by cutting edge label/producer Mordant Music, under the wonderful name MisinforMation (Mordant's releases tend to feature that double M in capital letters), released on December 6. The BFI's Sam Dunn said: "Working with Mordant Music on this unique project has been incredible - their specially created scores add new layers of often dark and perverse meaning to the classic COI films, and produces an altogether new and unmissable viewing experience. Releasing exclusively through leading specialist retailer Boomkat is perfect for this title."
And while we're on the BFI, The Raygun's correspondents were out last night for a special preview and Q&A for a forthcoming release for its Flipside imprint, Private Road. The film is the rarely seen second (and last) outing for director Barney Platts-Mills, whose debut, Bronco Bullfrog, came out last week as a Flipside release. It was, our reporters say, a wonderful outing and enlivened by the Q&A, which featured the caustic Platts-Mills cutting remarks about the British film industry. The dual format release is due in January 2011. Dunn said: "Starring Susan Penhaligon (from the original Bouquet of Barbed Wire) and Bruce Robinson, director of Withnail and I, How to Get Ahead in Advertising and the forthcoming Johnny Depp starrer, The Rum Diary, Private Road is a kind of dry run for Withnail and I, with many sequences clearly acting as a blueprint for the 80s cult classic. No true film fan can afford to miss this."
It was one of the first video nasties and, judging by the recent furore, I Spit On Your Grave is still the most notorious of the bunch. The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) has refused to give a certificate to the film, effectively banning it in Ireland. The announcement came as Screen Entertainment/101 Films released the title on a dual DVD and Blu-ray format via Lace in the UK. The IFCO cited "acts of gross violence and cruelty (including mutilation and torture) towards humans" Lace Eire's sales director Eoghan Burke said: "We're disappointed and saddened that the IFCO have taken this decision, I thought we had moved on from these times. It just drives business away from bricks and mortar and into the hands of online, denying much needed revenue to traditional retail." Director Meir Zarchi added: "With the level of graphic violence and horror available these days, it’s surprising that IFCO sees this 1978 film more offensive than some of the most daring and empty of content torture porn available today.
Since the birth of the Internet all censor boards around the world have instantly become irrelevant, IFCO included. Anyone anywhere in the universe can simply push a button on any video website store and order a disc of I Spit On Your Grave. There are no iron curtains in the skies that can stop it from landing at his or her door."
Much of I Spit On Your Grave's notoriety stems from the title. Our favourite title of the week goes to Terracotta Distribution's Big T*t Zombie (asterisked out to prevent the industry's stricter firewalls) . The film – really, do you need us to write a synopsis – premiered at London's Prince Charles Cinema last Friday in front of a packed, nay, sold out, house. What's more many of the paying punters were dressed in the manner of the film's title. So successful was the event, that the cinema is now planning monthly screenings. All that can only help its imminent DVD release, the title is coming out in 3D on October 11. Terracotta's Joey Leung said: "We sold out thanks to wide variety of ways to get the message out to target audience. The momentum is building well for the release."
Sticking with zombies, for the time being, and one of the most eagerly anticipated zombie titles due is The Walking Dead, a TV series due from AMC, the home of Mad Men. In a wide-ranging del inked with eOne, the fast-growing company will look after international rights for the programme – including UK DVD, home entertainment and digital rights – as well as international TV and home video sales . The series, based on a comic book, follows the aftermath of a "pandemic zombie apocalypse" and follows a group of survivors looking for safety. It stars Brit Andrew Lincoln, formerly of This Life, and Sarah Wayne Callies from Prison Break. As Peter Emerson, president of eOne's international TV arm said: "The anticipation and online buzz around this series has been phenomenal. We look forward to ensuring that The Walking Dead makes an immediate impact with audiences around the globe." eOne's UK head of marketing Matt Brightwell said: "It looks absolutely awesome. We know the whole zombie market well and see the value of this series." eOne is looking at further building on the word of mouth from now on and this series will expand its business in TV distribution and global DVD sales. No transmission or release date has yet been set.
Another title from eOne generating buzz, albeit with a closer release date, is The Tortured, due on October 18, ahead of the key Halloween timings. The title, which we watched this week, has already aired at this year's FrightFest event and comes from the producers of the Saw franchise. As eOne's Sayoko Tietz said: "As The Tortured is from the producers of the Saw franchise, it is already hotly anticipated by horror fans and especially fans of the franchise which to date sold more than 3 million copies altogether. The buzz is growing by the day and we are targeting this audience with an integrated campaign lead by TV and a heavyweight online and PR campaign focusing on Horror and SAW fans and the key media they use. The days are getting shorter and chillier so here comes a horror with a twist that will kick off Halloween season in style."
Meanwhile, Manga is preparing itself for its biggest release of the year, also due on October 18. Professor Layton & The Eternal Diva is the first feature length film release joining the Nintendo DS franchise that has sold more than 1.5 million copies. Its release comes in the same week as a new game release for the handheld console and is joinging with the games giant for marketing activity. Its four SKU release (taking in DVD, Blu-ray, a combi-pack with bonus disc and a deluxe box set with 660 page storyboard book) will be backed with Manga's own advertising in the games and film press, both well ahead of the release and closer to October 18, while its online activity will target not just the traditional sites, but also female-friendly sites too. Its PR activity will similarly look further afield to the women's press. It's working closely with Nintendo by mailing out to its consumers and posting clips up on the website. Manga's Jerome Mazandarani said: "This is Manga’s biggest release of the year and it’s Nintendo’s biggest DS release of the year. A perfect combination for the trade and consumers alike this Christmas."
One title out this week worth keeping an eye on is Arn: Knight Templar from High Fliers. This epic tale has barged a few arguably higher profile titles out of the way in its first few days of release, selling more than 10,000 units and on its way to securing a remarkable success for its distributor. High Fliers' Jane Lawson said: "We are ecstatic at the results achieved on our release of Arn Knight Templar this week – to be the third best selling film on day of release is huge achievement. This shows that even up against huge studio movies a quality film with great production values and some clever marketing can produce a fantastic result."
Revolver was celebrating this week after its titles bagged a clutch of nominations at the prestigious Grierson British Documentary Awards 2010. They included two nods for the Banksy film, Exit Through The gift Shop (most entertaining documentary and best cinema documentary) and Only When I Dance, which got a nomination for Best Documentary For The Arts. The awards will be announced on November 2.
When PR stunts go bad: rentailer Netflix launched in Canada this week, closing down a street in Toronto to promote its Internet streaming service (it is not offering rentals by post in Canada). It was well attended with scores of onlookers, many of whom were ready to tell journalists how excited they were about Netflix's arrival. It seems, however, as if many of these were actors, hired by Netflix and told to tell journalists how good it was. The company has apologised for the apparent own-goal, although it claimed that the extras weren't meant to give interviews and said it was for a "corporate documentary", the wording needed to get it the license to close the street. The spread of the story via the Internet and specifically Twitter has caused it some embarrassment.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Businesses hiding offshore are generating large profit from global theft of intellectual property in digital form, threatening our nation's prosperity and one of its most vital exports. This bill is an important step forward to help curb rampant piracy here and abroad, and protect American jobs." Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman commenting on new planned US legislation that will give federal law enforcement officials greater powers to clamp down on websites offering pirated content.
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
We reported last week that Momentum is enjoying something of a purple patch at the minute and the October release of Brooklyn's Finest looks certain to continue that. Opening against the World Cup theatrically may have hampered some of its box office revenue – although it still managed to take £1.3 million and attract good reviews and word of mouth), but it did enable Momentum to get the release out in the home entertainment sector at a time of its choosing, and ahead of Christmas. The title is out on October 18 – alongside the company's Frozen and The Experiment, making it a hugely busy day – and will come with a hefty camaign, including V with 10 and 20 second spots across Channel 4 and five, E4, ITV2 and other satellite channels both pre- and post-release. There's be a two week online campaign targeting the key 18 to 34-year-old market with MPUs, pre-rolls, leaderboards and the likes of 4, Yahoo and Spotify. Press ads in the week of release will feature half page DPS spots in the likes of Shortlist, Zoo, Daily Star, Metro, Mirror, Sport and The Guardian. Momentum's Clare Dundrow said: "The great cast of Brooklyn's Finest boasts along with top pedigree of the director, makes this movie a really exciting proposition for us at DVD. We've developed strong creative that will make for a great marketing campaign and the film really stands up."
AT THE MOVIES
The latest Will Ferrell starrer The Other Guys, marked as something od a return to form for the comic after a few lacklustre performers, made its debut with almost £2 million, making it one of the year's best comedy openers. With more than £800,000, Devil was the UK box office top 10's other new entry. Devil was also a new entry in the US, taking third place behind two other new releases, led by Ben Affleck's The Town.
How the Internet works, pt 103: It was amazing to see how Keanu Reeves' mere mention of a potential sequel to his early outings as part of original slacker duo Bill and Ted, in their eponymous Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey, set the Internet abuzz last week. One off the cuff remark in an MTV interview and suddenly everyone, from the US trades and entertainment press through to our own film magazines and even national newspapers such as the Guardian were churning out pages and pages of copy about it. And the strength of this story? Well, Reeves said the original scriptwriters were looking at ideas and he'd like to do it. Er, that's it. Let's just say that Keanu is approaching 50, so we're not sure what the idea behind it will be, but we're adopting a "wait and see" policy.
In a similar way, the news that Boardwalk Empire, HBO's new series renewed for a second season after its Scorsese-directed pilot was unveiled, had caused TV bigwigs to look at another mob and Scorsese-related project with a view to making a TV series, also spread over the web like wildfire. Goodfellas – The Series is likely to be penned by Goodfellas scribe Nicholas Pileggi, with Irwin Winkler a possible producer, although it is not yet clear whether Scorsese himself will be involved…
Legal action of the week: apparently Disturbia is nothing like Rear window. It's official. A court this week ruled that the Shia LeBoeuf film is, in fact, nothing like the Hitchcock classic, or at least the short story it was based on. The original film was based on It Had To Be Murder, penned by Cornell Woolrich in 1942. Disturbia's similarities to the Hitchcock film – barely a review or comment went by without reference to it – caused Woolrich's estate to sue. However this week, a US court threw out the copyright infringement suit, saying the plots were similar "only at a high, unprotectable level of generality". Much as we actually enjoyed Disturbia, it seems as if the judge is the only person in the world who didn't think the film in some resembled Hitch's classic…
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Fighting your way through the reams of tweets about Chris Moyles – like you need to be told he's an idiot – the release of the new Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows trailer sent the Internet, and particularly Twitter into meltdown, showing the power of the phenomenon and how this is where entertainment product is currently being promoted… It was trending not once, but twice, as both Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows… http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23DeathlyHallows And follow us at http://twitter.com/theraygun
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
There's a strong buzz about this Aussie title: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/independent/redhill/
New Due Date trailer up, causing a commotion:
"Hey, I've got an idea, let's do Romeo And Juliet, with gnomes…" "Great idea. What shall we call it?" "Not sure, we'll come up with something later." "And after that, let's do Home Alone with gnomes." "Maybe."
Blimey, is that Winona Ryder?
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