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It Was A Good Week For… Icon, Studiocanal and Arrow, all celebrating strong sales (see below)… 

It Was A Bad Week For… Anti-piracy legislation in the US, which now appears to be off the agenda until after this year's presidential elections…

It's been a bright start for two of this week's big releases with both Drive and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy speeding off from the grid. In the case of the former, the Ryan Gosling starrer that is something of a swansong for Icon in its current guise, raced off. It was boosted by some unique marketing in terms of a live Twitter stunt on the day of release, which saw Twitter users all watching the film at the same time on Monday and live tweeting throughout, under the hashtag of #DriveTime. The event, organised by Icon's digital agency Think Jam, saw almost 1,000 tweets posted using the hashtag DriveTime, giving it a reach of almost 1.5 million people. Icon's Ian Dawson said: "We are absolutely delighted with the fantastic early sales on Drive thanks to the excellent profile and support from all of those carrying the title. Coverage will continue through to the BAFTAs and well beyond." The film has been nominated for a slew of gongs at the forthcoming ceremony…
Also starting very well was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy… Within a mere few days of its bow the film had already become Studiocanal's biggest ever week one sales performance. The company's Mikey Ellis said: "We're over the moon with how sales are tracking so far this week. With sales up until Wednesday we have already broken our Studio Canal record for the highest selling title week 1. This might seem that it would be obvious from the size of the box office but sometimes more intelligent titles of this nature don't always have the strongest conversion rates. We hope sales continue as they have done into the weekend." Studiocanal's Nick Tay added: " Looking forward the fantastic opening week sales will undoubtedly be built upon over the coming weeks in the run up to BAFTAs with the film's 11 nominations, including Best Picture and the Oscars with its three nominations including Best Actor for Gary Oldman."
Another milestone achieved this week saw Arrow sail past the 100,000 mark with the first series of The Killing. The achievement is all the more remarkable when you put it into context – this is, after all, a subtitled Danish 20-part drama, most of which has been sold at full or near full price. Arrow's Jon Sadler said: "It's been a real phenomenon. Its performance is a real achievement, it must be the bestselling subtitled TB drama ever… I can't imagine anything has come close to it." Next from Arrow's Nordic Noir imprint is Monday's release of the excellent political drama Borgen, which is already earning rave reviews. 

It's taken the best part of a quarter of a century, but the notorious Visions Of Ecstasy – the only film ever refused a certificate on the grounds of blasphemy – was finally given an 18 certificate this week. It marks the end of a 23 year odyssey for director Nigel Wingrove, the man behind the Salvation group of companies, including the Redemption label. It was originally refused a certificate on the grounds it would fall foul of common law blasphemy and blasphemy libel tests. He pursued the case right through to the European courts, but it was only the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act in 2008 that abolished those archaic laws and paved the way for this week's BBFC announcement. In an official statement, the BBFC stated: "The Board recognises that the content of the film may be deeply offensive to some viewers. However, the Board’s Guidelines reflect the clear view of the public that adults should have the right to choose their own viewing, provided that the material in question is neither illegal nor harmful. In the absence of any breach of UK law and the lack of any credible risk of harm, as opposed to mere offensiveness, the Board has no sustainable grounds on which to refuse a classification to Visions Of Ecstasy in 2012. Therefore the film has been classified for video release at 18 without cuts." The short film will now be released in a comprehensive package on March 26, complete with other films directed by Wingrove and a 36 page book looking at its history and Wingrove's battles with the authorities, on-disc extras even include scans of some of the legal documents. Speaking to The Raygun, Wingrove said: "After 23 years it's very a very strange feeling… If Visions Of Ecstasy hadn't been banned then my life would have been very different, certainly I wouldn't have founded my company Redemption Films, or the Satanic Suts, or ended up owning the films of Jean Rollin or any of the things I'm doing now. In a funny way perhaps I should thank the censors but then again I think not. When I was told the evening before the BBFC formally announced their decision to pass Visions of Ecstasy and grant it an 18 certificate I felt absolutely nothing, it was as if i had been told that its raining outside or something. The next day I just felt down, I knew that people probably expected me to be punching the air but after 23 years the only thing I wanted to punch was the BBFC's James Ferman, and he's dead."
Another week, another raft of developments in the digital world… Chief among these was Sky's announcement that it is launching a new Internet TV offering. The as yet unnamed service, which will launch in the "first half of 2012", will provide instant access to Sky's film content, and is aimed at non-Sky Movies subscribers. The pricing will be "flexible", with a range of different options, including monthly unlimited access and one-off rentals of films. Final details are still be unveiled which, to the casual observer, suggests that Sky's announcement was made early to counter Netflix and LOVEFiLM's recent activity in this sector. The company's chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: "This exciting new service will offer some of Sky's most popular content through a wide range of broadband connected devices. Alongside the continued growth of our satellite platform, this will be a new way for us to reach out to consumers who love great content, but may not want the full Sky service. Bringing a distinctive, new choice to the marketplace will help us meet the needs and demands of an ever wider range of consumers. This new product launch will build on our early leadership in multi-platform distribution. It will allow us to make our expertise and investment in content and technology work even harder, extending our options for continued growth."

More big news on the digital front, and Apple has this week made its own strides into the ongoing battle for digital share with the announcement that it has inked an exclusive deal with the Disney-owned ABC Studios to offer the new series from the pairing of Steven Spielberg and Paranormal Activity producer Oren Peli ahead of TV broadcast and any home entertainment release. All eight episodes of The River are available to order on a full season pass now, with the first two instalments launching on February 8. The full series costs £9.99, single episodes are £1.89. The series follows the journey of wildlife expert Dr Emmet Cole's family into the heart of the Amazon jungle to find the missing doctor. The series is produced by ABC Studios and Amblin Films, and distributed by Disney UK. Executive producer Oren Peli said: " Right from the start, we've had a global audience in mind for The River - the show preys on universal human fears, and follows a journey to an exotic, remote setting. I'm excited to be debuting the show on iTunes."
Part of the ongoing fight for consumers' digital spend, involves winning their hearts and minds, which is where PR and marketing comes into play. A fine example of the former came this week as LOVEFiLM issued a fascinating release about its top renters of 2011 and some equally interesting data about the location of its transactions. For example, its figures revealed that Birmingham has the highest co9nsumption of Blu-rays in the UK, while there were also some great insights into other regional variations – East Is East is most popular in Birmingham, Shane Meadows' Once Upon A Time In The Midlands is most popular in his local area of Nottingham,; The Full Monty in Sheffield and 24 Hour Party People in Manchester. LOVEFiLM editor Helen Cowley said: "When it comes to films and TV, it is clear we are a nation with eclectic tastes. Brits love Hollywood blockbusters but the past 12 months also saw unwavering support for home-grown acting and production talent too. We have been spoilt for choice by some of the best films and TV series of the last few years and with LOVEFiLM Instant people can watch what they want, when they want - from comedy classics to heart-thumping thrillers." We've got loads on our website, head over here for more…  
Also on our website this week, we've got a look at Lionsgate's impressive outdoor campaigns for Warrior and Abduction. The former is the inspirational action drama pitting two brothers against each other in a mixed martial arts tournament, starring Tom Hardy - the Brit whose star keeps rising - and the recently Oscar-nominated Nick Nolte. The outdoor element, which has been booked as part of the company’s drive for synergies across the whole business, is complemented by a compelling TV campaign, FSDUs and national press support. The company’s Senior Product Manager Sarah Sanders said: "We’ve got high hopes for this award-worthy film on DVD, Blu-ray and digital, having set it up with strong artwork, solid above the line activity and great support from trade."

One company that excels in limited theatrical releases moving swiftly to DVD is documentary specialist Dogwoof and it's been at it again this week, with forthcoming theatrical release Girl Model. The film, which looks at the world of modelling, is due at cinemas on February 10 and arrives on DVD and via iTunes 10 days later. The film this week premiered at the Electric Cinema in Ladbroke Grove, west London, with a lively debate and Q&A with its directors, Ashley Sabin and David Redmon, as well as one of the models from the film and representatives from Model's Union. Its subject matter has also won it plenty off publicity, with a major feature in The Times' Saturday magazine, and in prestigious publications such as Elle and Tatler. All of which has set it up nicely for its theatrical and DVD bows. Dogwoof's head of distribution Oli Harbottle said: "It made sense to launch Girl Model on the eve of the upcoming London Fashion Week with a platform theatrical release before making it more widely available on DVD and iTunes. The premiere at The Electric was the perfect way to engage the fashion community and to create the necessary word-of-mouth to make this a must-see film for anyone who cares about the industry."
The recently relaunched FindAnyFilm website earned itself something of an accolade this week after being named as best new website in Web User magazine. The editorial in the print magazine, which, as its name suggests, is all about the Internet, said: "The redesigned site is faster to load and easier to navigate, with a greater emphasis on social elements and a useful wish-list tool that lets you save movies you want to watch. It's a brilliant site that's right up to date with modern movie-watching habits. FindAnyFilm's Katy Cox said: "We're really pleased with how the relaunched site is working, the response it's getting from consumers and the industry and the impact the new features are having on usage – and it's great that it's been recognised."
With the success of both Super and Everything Must Go, G2 Pictures ended the year on a high and the company is set to expand even further in 2012. For starters it has an increased release schedule, with the first fruits of its Joel Silver deal coming to the market, as well an ongoing output Deal with horror experts After Dark, in addition to a growing slate of other acquisitions. And as well as that, the company is moving further afield too, with the company launching in Scandinavia and Benelux this year. As the company's Alan Partington said, the move will enable G2 to boost its buying power. "We're going to try and hit the same release dates. We're also talking about other territories," he explained. A fully year into its ongoing sales and distribution deal with Koch, the company is looking at "35 to 40 releases" this year, which will, Partington said, be a "mixture of theatrical and direct to DVD". Around half of those come from the aforementioned relationships with Silver and After Dark. The former is made up of predominantly action titles such as Transit, a Jim Caviezel starrer about the aftermath of a heist; the latter provides horrors such as found footage title Tape 407 and . In addition to this, there are independent acquisitions, such as Red Dog, the blockbusting Australian hit. It has taken $23 million at Australian cinemas and this week win Best Film at the country's own Academy Awards. It's released at cinemas here on February 24, backed by a TV campaign. 

Kaleidoscope continues to expand its operation after its successful end of 2011 and bright start to 2012 (as recently reported here on the newsletter). Firstly it has appointed a new national account manager, with Pete Thompson due to start on Monday. Thompson had previously worked at Revolver and Muze. The independent's director of home entertainment sales Matthew Kreuzer said: "We are very excited that Pete is joining the fast growing team at Kaleidoscope. Kaleidoscope’s Home Entertainment division has grown rapidly in the past nine months but there is only so much one person can achieve and it was felt that now is the time to expand.  The experience Pete has gained at Revolver over the past three years has been fantastic and his relationships with retailers and rentailers is second to none. We believe Pete will provide the company and division with the support, expertise and industry knowledge it needs to grow again in 2012 and beyond." He'll be working on titles such as Strippers Vs Werewolves and Elfie Hopkins.
Also from Kaleidoscope: the company has inked a UK distribution deal with the wonderfully named Los Banditos Films. The company's forthcoming slate includes Woody Harrelson comedy Loser, the new remake of John Woo's classic A Better Tomorrow and Earth 3D. Kaleidoscope's director of international sales and acquisitions Caroline Stern said: " We are very excited to be working with Timo and Benjamin. They run a dynamic business and we are looking forward to being a part of their growth."
We went to see the rather wonderful Journey 2: The Mysterious Island last Sunday (you can read our screening correspondent Alex Kidd's thoughts on the film on our website). The film, released by Warner, opens at cinemas this weekend ahead of its home entertainment bow later in the year. It marks what looks set to be a hugely busy year for its star Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. For not only is the wrestler turned star cementing his reputation as an action star who plays equally well with kids and older audiences, but he's also returning to his alma mater, the WWE world, for the biggest event in the organisation's calendar, Wrestlemania. Clear Vision will, of course, be releasing the title later in the summer after the April event takes place, but ahead of that, it has The Epic Journey Of Duane The Rock Johnson due for DVD release in April. The company's Ben Stanley said: "This release is well timed to leverage off interest in the movie and represents a great snapshot for fans of The Rock; highlighting his exploits up to now from his humble WWE beginnings, becoming the biggest star in WWE, through to his Hollywood exploits. It's a really exciting time for us and fans of the Rock as he is back at WrestleMania for arguably one of the biggest matches in recent times, the peoples champion vs. for many the fans favourite John Cena. This will help no end in marketing what is already the biggest WWE release of the year to the masses, allowing us to pick up a number of casual and lapsed fans and re-invigorate their interest in the brand."

Television now, and one of our favourite television programmes, bar none, of 2011, was This Is England 88, the latest instalment into what is fast becoming the closest thing director Shane Meadows gets to a franchise. The three part outing offers up the latest exploits of a group of characters who began their life on the big screen before heading to TV. And, if anything, this latest was, in our opinion, the best of the lot so far. The title is due from 4DVD on March 12 and is certain to add to the sales enjoyed across the feature and spin-off television series so far. The marketing campaign will include press advertising and plenty of PR. As 4DVD's Jess Scott said: "Shane Meadows and the This Is England '88 cast are also supporting the release of the DVD, with interview schedules being firmed up currently. There will also be a DVD on-pack promotion with Dr. Marten's with some fabulous prizes."
Also from 4DVD and definitely worthy of more attention is another three parter, this time the latest from much respected writer, critic, broadcaster and all round genius Charlie Brooker. Black Mirror offers up three distinctly different cautionary tales that look at technology and all its implications. Brooker's name ensures a built in audience and again press advertising will help push the release, as will PR. 4DVD's Jess Scott said: "Charlie Brooker is very involved in the DVD release and will be doing some key PR for us, including Sunday Mirror Q&A and interviews with Shortlist, Evening Standard ES magazine, Empire Online and BBC Radio 2 to name a few."
Interesting to see that the wonderfully titled Britcom How To Stop Being A Loser, released by Crabtree Films, is due to be released on February 20, but, ahead of that, the film, which stars familiar faces such as Gemma Atkinson, has a two week exclusive window at Asda. Explaining the independent's thinking, the company's Amir Bazrafshan said: "The Asda deal basically gets the DVD out to a huge audience and really fits into the core demographic for the film. It is great that Asda are supporting British indie film and we hope it helps the film finds its audience on this wide, national platform." Further marketing for the release will include PR and viral marketing.
And finally, we'll end with a few anniversaries… We've been going through some old video-related publications recently and, among other things, picked up  the fact that 20th Century Fox's video arm has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary since forming in January 1982. And congratulations too to Trevor Drane at Revelation Films, who has now spent 30 years in the industry, he joined the sales team at VCL Limited this very week three decades ago. He joins the likes of Paul Archer, sales chief at Clear Vision, who recently celebrated his 30th anniversary in the business. Now, far be it from us to bandy such words around, but Messrs Drane and Archer have maybe earned the sobriquet of veteran. Drane said: "Thirty years passes quite quickly when you enjoy what you do." Archer added: "Most people will be shocked by this fact because clearly I don't look old enough and must have joined the industry when I was eight years old. I know a few can beat me and it probably makes me a dinosaur but not a bad achievement."

"There was a lot of rhetoric – unfortunate rhetoric – and misinformation put out there that focused on the SOPA part of it. It became almost religious dogma that any legislation that might emerge through the process built around the Senate bill would have broken the Internet, created censorship around the world and the fact of the matter is I think the bill that would have emerged would have been very reasonable."
Viacom ceo Philippe Dauman, criticising the "mob mentality that sunk US anti-piracy legislation. He added that it will now not happen this year…

There’s nothing like a good Nic Cage film when it comes to doing the business as a home entertainment release. The latest outing from the man is Justice, due from Momentum this March. As the company’s Clare Dundrow noted: “Justice is an exciting DVD proposition for us - an edge of the seat action thriller, and one that Nicolas Cage fans won't be disappointed with.” His core appeal, of course, is with the male, 15 to 34-years-old market and Momentum will be appealing to this with TV spots on Channel 4, Five and satellite channels. Online support is aimed at lads, sports fans and DVD buyers, and they’ll be further press ads in the likes of Zoo, Nuts, The Sun and Daily Star.  Dundrow added: “We had enormous success last year with Season of the Witch so we know how to market Cage both to his fans and to the genre masses. To some, Cage represents a guilty pleasure, and one that generally delivers the numbers.”
A trio of new entries dominated the upper echelons of the UK box office chart this week, but neither The Descendants (£1.8 million), The Grey (£1.1 million) or A Monster In Paris `(just over £1 million) could topple War Horse, which has not taken more than £13.4 million at cinemas, from the top slot. Continuing our poor string of gags about The Iron Lady, proving, much like Thatcher herself, that you can't get rid of her no matter how hard you try.
Next up in the seemingly never-ending run of remakes being churned out over in Hollywood comes another 80s tale given a makeover. Short Circuit, the one where a robot, Number Five, built for military use, develops his own personality after being struck by licensing, is being produced by Dimension, part of The Weinstein Company, which is aiming to to match its previous family franchise, Spy Kids. Tim Hill, director of Hop and Alvin And The Chipmunks, will direct. 
J.J. Abrams, he of Lost, Super 8, and seemingly about 50 per cent of everything else that comes out of Hollywood, both on the big and small screen, is developing a new project, Revolution, for the Universal-owned NBC. It is set in a world where all forms of energy have ceased to exist…
Quite simply, the most ridiculous idea ever.
Follow us on… 
 We cried at the trailer for this, so heaven knows what will happen when we see the real thing…
The trailer that got fan boys seriously angry… Just check the comments. Come on though, it is for kids, isn't it?
And this is about as far away from the kids' Star Wars as you could get; new from Bobcat Goldthwaite…
Forget all that quality business, this is one of the finest programmes on television…
The latest Irvine Welsh adaptation…
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