NEWSLETTER :: August 12 2010

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It Was A Good Week For... Shutter Island in stores and Toy Story 3 at cinemas…

It Was A Bad Week For… Blockbuster in the US, which appears to be slipping into further trouble…

Shutter Island performed admirably in its first week on the shelves, shifting more than 127,000 units across DVD and Blu-ray. An impressive performance making it one of the bestselling Scorsese/Di Caprio collaborations thus far. It was a well-managed campaign, taking in 10 days' worth of television and online advertising, including spots on Channel 4 and Five, and outdoor. Better still, its PR proved invaluable, with features in the likes of the Daily Star and Guardian taking journalists to the original psychiatric hospital where the the film was shot. Social media included patient interviews and "live" updates from Medfield State Hospital. As Amber Smith, senior brand manager for Paramount, said: "Shutter Island has been a real success story for Paramount this Q3."

With arguably the hottest film franchise in the world at its fulcrum, and a slate that goes from Peppa Pig at one end of the spectrum through to extreme horror at the other end, E1's rapid growth continues apace, as evidenced by its Q4 line-up, unveiled to us at The Raygun last week. It's the range and size of its slate that is as impressive as anything else, taking in TV, children's, DTV and theatrically released films and one gifting title with plenty of potential. The TV sector is represented by documentary Indian Hill Railways, Spooks series 8 and Sanctuary series 2, all in October. The company's successful relationship with Peppa Pig continues, as well as its creators' first animated outing The Big Knights, E1 is also releasing solus Peppa (Santa's Grotto) with firther box set activity, all in late October. The DTV side of the feature film range offers up the ubiquitous and hugely successful Danny Dyer in Devil's Playground; Five Dollars A Day with Christopher Walken; the TV-advertised, Frightfest-friendly The Tortured, from the producers of Saw; Don't Look Up, which stars Eli Roth and is produced by Ring creator Hideo Nakata and Pirates Of Langkasuka, an epic tale from the producers of Ong Bak. Titles already released at cinemas include hits such as Letters To Juliet (October 4), Nativity! (November 22) and of course, the jewel in the crown that is Eclipse, the latest in The Twilight Saga. E1's other big hit of the year has, of course, been the Vertigo-produced Streetdance (itself due out just outside of Q4, on September 27) and there's a special interest release with a similar theme, Streetdance – The Moves, which will feature George Sampson, star of the film, showing how to do routines. E1's Matt Brightwell said: "The strength of E1 Entertainment’s Q4 offering is the breadth of choice in all genres. This Q4 will to be our biggest ever with sales driven by quality content which includes Danny Dyer’s most accomplished performance to date in UK zombie horror The Devil's Playground, horror fans highly anticipated The Tortured from the producers of Saw, as well market leading titles such as the eighth series of Spooks, a Christmas-themed release from number one pre-school favourite Peppa Pig, and of course the third instalment of hit franchise The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

There was a fascinating article in last week's Sunday Times talking about the repeat viewing figures for Warner's Inception, estimating that one in five admissions were repeat viewings. And, of course, this bodes well for the impending DVD and Blu-ray release. No date has been officially confirmed yet, suffice to say it will be out before Christmas. Christopher Nolan's actioner, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, is one of three key new releases that are the central planks of Warner's Q4 line-up. What's more the triumvirate – Cats &  Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore (which opened with more than £1.5 million last weekend), Sex And The City 2 and Inception – all have proven video pedigree, from the sales record of both the first Cats And Dogs and Sex And The City films, through to the performance of Nolan's last outing, The Dark Knight. All will be supported by tentpole campaigns, with the full release dates due to be unveiled shortly.

Also from Warner this Q4 come a few notable goodies, taking in Blu-ray debuts for Seven (one of the many New Line titles working their way back into Warner's catalogue), Nightmare On Elm Street and The Exorcist, both in October and both in special packaging. There's a brand new Ben 10 release, Alien Swarm due on October 11. Following hot on the heels of the last live action outing featuring the eponymous boy hero, which has now sold 220,000 units, it is being treated like a theatrical release. There's also a new feature length outing for the irrepressible Scooby Doo (Camp Scare, October 11). Warner is also planning a raft of catalogue and box set activity, taking in Harry Potter (to tie in with the forthcoming film release); a sumptuous 35-film (yes, you read that right) overview of Clint Eastwood's career, out next week, but set to sell through to Christmas, this is top of our list for Santa; a return for the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine box; a Tom and Jerry Christmas box set; the complete Ben 10 Alien Force and, of course, the complete Friends box set.

Staying with Warner, and the major has unveiled a number of new appointments completing the reorganisation of its marketing team, which now offers an integrated approach to marketing, following product throughout its life-cycle. Kezia Toner, formerly at Universal Pictures and Manning Gottlieb OMD, has joined as film marketing manager, looking after "strategic planning, delivery and evaluation of titles" across theatrical, home entertainment and digital. Nihal de Silva joins as digital marketing manager, advising the marketing team on trends and opportunities in emerging and traditional areas. He was previously at IGN and Sony Pictures Television. Tom Gunn, formerly at Disney, has been appointed as marketing manager for consumer products, overseeing the development of brands with retailers and licensees. Finally, two new retail promotion manager roles have been filled, with Rafael Rozenson arriving from Procter And Gamble and Sara Florence from Woolworths' Big W in Australia; both will be looking at ways of furthering catalogue sales via traditional key retailers. Those final pieces in the puzzle mean that there are now 40 plus marketing people at Warner Bros guiding product and content through its life-cycle. VP and group marketing director Polly Cochrane said: "With these new roles filled, we now have the organisation in place to fully maximise the profitability and long term value of our brands."

More on the job front, as HMV and sister company Waterstone's unveiled plans to consolidate their marketing departments under HMV's Graham Sim in the newly-created role of group marketing director. There are three new teams within the group marketing department – group customer relationship management (CRM) under Matt Button, previously HMV head of CRM, overseeing, among other things, the award-winning purehmv scheme; brand marketing, under Lee Banister, formerly head of marketing and customer insight at Waterstone's; and brand creative headed by Mark Robertson, overseeing design, display and campaigns for each brand. Teams from HMV and Waterstone's will report in to the heads, who will work between HMV's head office and Waterstone's Brentford HQ. Sim said: "HMV and Waterstone's are two of the most appealing and iconic entertainment brands on the high street and within the online arena.  So I'm particularly excited to be overseeing an imaginative new structure for the marketing teams which, in optimising access to the resources and expertise available across the Group, will further support the ongoing development of both brands. We are, however, fully conscious of the need to do this in a way that will preserve their individual identity and associated values, and by working together cleverly in this way, I believe it will enable Waterstone's and HMV to engage with their respective customers with even greater passion and emotional cut-through than ever.  As far as both sets of customers are concerned, they will continue to feel they are being engaged by two separate, distinct brands." Sim added: "On a more personal level, I couldn't be more thrilled at this appointment, as my passion for music and film is matched only by my love of books. This really is the dream job for me."

Sim's enthusiasm for the industry is well catalogued and he is credited as being the man behind the wonderful My Inspiration campaign. Which, of course, we at The Raygun are now using as the inspiration for our very own My Inspiration feature on our website, in which we ask people in and around our business types about the titles that inspired them to join our industry or were pivotal in their careers. This week we have Anchor Bay's Rod Smith, formerly an HMV man himself, and the Daily Mirror's DVD editor Jessica Mellor talking about their Inspiration…

Also on the website this week: our usual round up of the press, a look at the top 10 bestselling Film4 titles and much more, click here for more…  

Back to the recruitment sector, and indie label Kaleidoscope continues to grow, adding a major new arm to its growing operation. It has appointed Caroline Stern to the newly created role of international sales and acquisitions. She will look after the latter for Kaleidoscope's rapidly expanding theatrical and DVD business, and the former for the newly-created Kaleidoscope Film Distribution. It will be acquiring and distributing up to 10 films a year for the new subsidiary, announcing its first slate at the forthcoming Toronto film festival with a full launch at AFM. Kaleidoscope's Spencer Pollard said: "We're delighted to be adding Caroline to our existing team and are very excited by the international distribution experience she will bring to our business." Stern added: "Spencer has quickly established Kaleidoscope as a leading independent UK distributor, and I am very excited to be joining him and his team in this vision to further expand and evolve the company."


It's rare that a week goes by without a national newspaper, from the tabloids to the business sections of the broadsheets, referring to the "downturn in DVD" or similar doomy terminology. So it's welcome to see the latest pronouncement from the BVA, which showed year on year growth for new release DVD, with July being more than 15 per cent up in volume terms year on year, driven by the likes of Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang, which shifted almost 400,000 units. Year to date, volume sales are up some 2.5 per cent. In July, children's sales were up 14.5 per cent in volume and 12.4 per cent in value terms, led by DreamWorks/Paramount's Kung Fu Panda Secrets Of The Furious. Sport (5.3 per cent to the end of July) and music (4.5 per cent) were also up. The BVA's Lavinia Carey said: "There have been some great new titles released in time for everyone to enjoy over the summer holidays and the improvement on June, which was very slow indeed due to the effects of the World Cup, is extremely welcome after a flat first half of the year." It's just a shame then, that while the trades, including Variety in the US, picked up on it, so few nationals in the UK felt it was newsworthy…

It's been if not the surprise hit of the summer, then at least its most talked about television programme. BBC's Sherlock, the updated take on the adventures of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson, as imagined by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, has wowed audiences, brought in strong viewing figures and will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on August 30 courtesy of 2 entertain, with a built in fanbase eager to buy in to Sherlock. Product manager Kelly Morris said: "There’s a fantastic buzz around Sherlock with phenomenal ratings and a great critical response. The reaction has accelerated pre-orders beyond our expectations and created genuine excitement around the TV DVD genre which we’re delighted with." The title will be supported by advertising in the broadsheet press as well as the Metro and Time Out around the release, with further PR set to break in the first week.      

Oh, and in case you hadn't noticed it, The Expendables premiered in the UK this week ahead of its theatrical debut next week. The Raygun was one of a number of video types seen parading (actually, we were more likely sashaying) down the red carpet on Monday night) and we can confirm that it really is as much fun as it looks. And probably noisier too. Needless to say, not just is it going to do the business at the box office, but this is home entertainment gold – there's a whiff of old rental and VHS nostalgia in it (right down to the made-up island state with tinpot dictator) given a new lease of life with the likes of contemporary DVD stars such as the always bankable Jason Statham. And if you want further proof of the kind of business The Expendables can generate, check the current Lionsgate and Optimum activity, now coming into its own. Word from Lionsgate is that the promotion is performing exceedingly well…

Shoppers in London's Oxford Street will have been accosted by the strange sight of two burka-wearing breakdancers this week, as Revolver launched The Infidel on DVD and Blu-ray outside HMV's 150 Oxford Street store. Star Omid Djalili appeared with the two burka babes (can we say that?) outside the store for a photocall session on Tuesday, part of Revolver's campaign for the title. See the picture here

A clutch of DVD operators were celebrating this week after being nominated in theatrical trade magazine Screen International's UK marketing and distribution awards. Alongside poster, online, premiere and assorted theatrical awards, there is a category for UK DVD campaign of the year. The nominees to be judged by a panel that includes Lord Puttnam, are Lionsgate for The Hurt Locker, Momentum's Mesrine, Icon's Paranormal Activity, E1's New Moon and Disney's Up. The awards will be presented in October. 

And finally, the row over the future of the UK Film Council rumbles on, as talent lines up to defend the Council, or, in some cases, applaud the government's decision to abolish it. On the one hand, some 50 actors, from Noel Clarke and James McAvoy to Ian Holm called on the coalition to "think long and hard".
Then Clint Eastwood came out against it.
Later Jeremy Hunt defended his decision (although at least two of the staffers on the salaries he mentioned are leaving). And, finally, Michael Winner launched what the tabloids would describe as a "blistering attack" on Clint and co. The battle lines have been drawn…

“[DVD] collectability doesn’t seem to be as important like it once was … except for real franchises and brands like Pixar." Disney ceo Bob Iger unveiling a 30 per cent increase in revenue to $1.6 billion. He said that fact had caused the studio to focus on franchises. Iger further added that Disney was continuing to look at windows and release strategies, including premium vod. "There are people, we believe, who like to see movies sooner rather than later and would pay a premium price to do that."

Zombies are, of course, all the rage (rage being the operative word). But The Horde, due from Momentum on September 20, really is a cut above when it comes to the genre. It's the best zombie film we at The Raygun have seen for some time and, as Empire rightly noted, this tower-block based horror actioner really is "the Die Hard of zombie flicks". It's already proved itself with the cognoscenti, having played at Frightfest last year to what Momentum's Clare Dundrow calls a "rapturous" reception. Momentum us planning a multi-platform release for the title. Dundrow said: "In order to maximise exposure and potential for this great movie we are launching on a theatrical platform with a seven day theatrical run at the Empire Leicester Sq starting on September 17. Ads in selected press will promote the theatrical while TV and online will concentrate on supporting the DVD release the following Monday, September 20." That TV will include 10 second spots on Channel 4, Syfy, FX, Sky Sports, Bravo and Virgin. Online (a "big campaign", said Dundrow) will target horror fans and gamers. This really is highly recommended stuff, check the trailer here.

All kinds of records tumbled for Toy Story this week, as the film's worldwide gross ($895 million) went past Finding Nemo to make it Pixar's biggest earner ever. It also took back Pixar's crown for the UK's biggest animation title, which has been held by Shrek 2 for the past six years. Its haul of more than £51 million makes it the 12th most successful film ever at cinemas in the UK. New entries included a creditable £2.4 million for Fox's Knight And Day, testament to its marketing and particularly PR clout, and Universal's Step Up 3D (just over £2 million) and Cats & Dogs The Revenge Of Kitty Galore, which took more than £1.5 million.  

Here it comes again… James Cameron has this week been discussing plans for sequels to Avatar. That's right, it's a plural – sequels. He is talking about filming two, back to back, a la Harry Potter and seemingly every other franchise these days. Don't hold your breath yet, however, as first he has to complete the novelisation, sorry, book version of Avatar. He is promising that that will go far beyond the average film to book title released as a quick cash in…

Comic book latest: not content with having a raft of forthcoming Marvel Comic book adaptations, seems as if Paramount is now planning more potential franchises to make the leap from the printed page on to screens. It has picked up the rights to Last Man Standing, a yet to be published graphic novel set in the future which had fans salivating at the recent San Diego Comic-Con.

Anyone seen Wired, the film about the life of John Belushi? Based on Wired, the book about the life of John Belushi? It failed to perform as well as expected as Hollywood closed ranks to protect one of its fallen. Now, however, stories are circulating that another Belushi biopic is on the way. The Hangover and Due Date helmer Todd Phillips is behind it, and, given the star of both films is the, er, larger than life Zach Galifianakis, who'd bet against him starring in it?


Icon is aiming to start a campaign to get fans to demand that its blaxploitation affair, Black Dynamite, plays at their local cinemas. We like the site and we love the language it employs ("fill in those iddy biddy boxes down below")… Check it out, as the kids might say, here 

So there we were, perusing Twitter during the weekend, as we often do, and we noticed Paramount's Shutter Island trending in the UK. Why? Well, in its first weekend of release, seems as if scores of punters were discussing their thoughts after having gone out and bought or rented it. Follow us at

We guarantee you will jump at this. We did.

Good comedy documentary:

The new Gaspar Noe looks outstanding:

Above average romcom fare:

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