It Was A Good Week For..Star Wars, breaking even more records… And a host of British indies have scored good performances too…
It Was A Bad Week For… Netflix, which continued to draw fire from consumers, this time after splitting its business (Netflix for streaming, Qwikster for DVDs by post) following its recent price hikes. "We're a more humble team," said cfo David Wells… 
December 2. That's the date that the final instalment of the franchise that has been a near constant in stores and online for the past decade or more will arrive. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 will be released on that day – a Friday – in a multitude of different SKUs. As we've noted previously, it not only is that rarity in that the film is being released in Q4, one of the first times a title in the series, now the most successful ever, has come out in the run-up to Christmas, but it also represents a major box set opportunity as The Complete 8-Film Collection is released in DVD and Blu-ray form and a limited edition, individually numbered version, complete with a 48-page photo album. It's also available as a Blu-ray 3D pack (with 3D and standard Blu-ray versions alongside DVD and download versions), a trople play pack and a standard two disc special edition. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is also available in a multitude of download versions, taking in iTunes, Blinkbox and others. Part 1 is also being released as a 3D Blu-ray. Needless to say, the different editions come with a wealth of additional features on the assorted discs.  
Plenty of financial news this week, as was sold to Japanese web giant Rakuten, as part of its move into Europe. The sale price for the company, one of the first Internet retailers in the UK in 1998, was said to be £25 million. Play has estimated sales of £500 million a year and is one of the UK's biggest online retailers, with DVD and Blu-ray at the core of its offering. Rakuten now has a presence in 10 territories, with an ever-increasing presence in Europe following recent acquisitions in France and Germany. The company's Hiroshi Mikitani said: "The UK market is one of Europe's largest and most mature e-commerce markets. is not only a pioneer in the market, but also one of the UK's most successful e-commerce businesses." Acknowledging that the business had slowed down a bit, Mikitani said promised to invest in the acquisition he said would "rocket start" its UK business. “We need to revitalise many things but we are confident we can do it. This is going to require a major effort… We feel it needs a lot of money and knowhow and long-term vision. It’s not very difficult for us to add our unique marketplace model and leverage the traffic and brand name.”
Interesting to note, again, how the press reported on the deal. The BBC played it completely straight, without even mentioning the company's DVD side of the business , The Financial Times gave the most detail and background into Ratuken. And The Guardian? It continued what is seemingly a campaign against home entertainment and packaged goods, mentioning "tax loopholes" within a few lines and once again talking about the "decline" in DVD sales, citing UK figures and, a propos of nothing, the "slump" in the US.


More financial news now, and an interesting story we picked concerning The Hut which has, reports say, decided to postpone its plans to float until 2012. But the news is not as downbeat as you might think and certainly doesn't reflect on trading conditions at the online retailer for home entertainment and other goods, it's more the fault of the market overall. Its sales will, it believes, almost double in 2011 and end up around the £150 million mark. But the volatility of stock market means The Hut now won't float until March at the earliest. A source is reported to have said: "You couldn't float a boat in these markets. The intention is to float in the early spring. The business is trading well and is in good order, but the markets are not." For more, see here 
You may have noticed loads of coverage about Facebook this week, as the social networking giant unveiled its plans for the future. It's partnering with the likes of Netflix and is aiming to encourage its users to stay within the website, even when they want to watch a film. It is also pushing its potential as a distribution platform to distributors too. Expect more details in the coming weeks…  
There's been a lot to celebrate this week too, with companies and their titles lining up to highlight their recent achievements, from a galaxy far away to the inner-city streets of London. 
We'll start with Revolver's Anuvahood, the first of the titles celebrating to come out in 2011. The title has now shifted 155,000 units in its first 11 weeks, making it the company's fastest selling title ever. It had already proved to be one of July's biggest sellers across the board and scored nimber one chart placings as a digital rental and video on demand title, all of which came on the back of its £2.1 million box office. Revolver ceo Justin Marciano said: "We're delighted with the success of Anuvahood and it's a great reward to see one of our own Gunslinger films also become Revolver's fastest ever selling title across all of our home entertainment platforms. Furthermore, it puts us in good stead for future in-house productions from Gunslinger, Sket and Feltham, which promise to further position both Revolver and Gunslinger as the home of UK independent film production and distribution."


At the other end of the scale from this comes Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray. Foc and Lucasfilm this week announced that its worldwide sales topped 1 million units in its first week of release, with more than half of those coming in America. It equates to more than £54 million ($84 million) in global consumer spend, with around $38 million of that generated in the US. As the official statement notes, this is "unprecedented" for a nine disc set. Lucasfilm's Kayleen Walters said: "Once again our fan’s enthusiasm to celebrate Stars Wars continues to amaze us. Our goal was to deliver a premium product that they could enjoy with their family and friends and we are thrilled that they are enjoying it as much as we hoped they would." Fox's Mary Daily, formerly a UK-based marketing executive, of course, and now marketing director for Fox in the US, added: "Star Wars is a franchise with universal stories that resonates as much today as it did 30 years ago.  With the Blu-ray, audiences can go deeper into the mythology than ever before and reconnect with everything they love about the Saga in the best possible quality."
Independent outfit Kaleidocope enjoyed its biggest ever week one release last week, as Michael Flatley: Returns As Lord Of The Dance entered the music charts last week at number one, selling just shy of 10,000 units in the UK and Ireland and ousting the likes of One Night In Turin and Winter In Wartime as the company's biggest week one ever. It followed on the back of a limited theatrical release and was launched with a TV campaign and support from Flatley himself, who was on TV, radio and in the press too. Kaleidoscope's Matthew Kreuzer said:  We are extremely pleased with the support we garnered from all the retailers in the UK and Ireland and are looking forward to working closely with them all to ensure it remains in the charts through to Christmas as it’s such a perfect gifting title." Next up is a 3D version due on November 21 and the the Lord Of The Dance tour due to arrive on these shores in December and playing at venues into 2012, the independent is certain that sales will remain buoyant.   
Studiocanal, the company formerly known as Optimum Releasing has marked its name change at the start of September with a string of remarkable achievements. This week has seen its alien invasion urban drama Attack The Block start off strongly on DVD and Blu-ray and it continues a good run of home entertainment success for the company. This includes its biggest ever week one release with Unknown, its biggest single week's market share courtesy of Unknown and Turtles Tales. Source Code and Unknown gave it two number ones, and Attack The Block will be the week's highest new entry if the performance in midweeks from Official Charts Company (see below for more) continues. And at cinemas, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the first major theatrical release to carry the company's new moniker, opened with £2.85 million from UK and Irish cinemas, making it the company's second number one of the past year (Unknown was the other). 2011 is already the biggest year in the company's history. Studiocanal's Mikey Ellis said: "We’re so lucky to have such a fantastic slate both currently and moving forward and being part of StudioCanal is going to make it possible to distribute and produce even bigger and better films. Our recent home entertainment titles have been perfect for the DVD buying audience and that’s shown in the fantastic conversion rates we’ve had. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has been the perfect film to launch StudioCanal in the UK and thanks to the amazing success theatrical are having we’re already looking forward to our Q1 in home entertainment."

Talking of Studiocanal, the company is readying Japanese classic In The Realm Of The Senses for a forthcoming Blu-ray premiere. The double play set is due on October 17 and is even more notable as it is the first time this extreme film has appeared completely uncut as originally intended when Nagisa Oshima's Japanese film about s*xual obsession was first released in the 1970s. It was even trimmed in the version shown in more relaxed cinema clubs where films didn't need BBFC certification (that's the version we first viewed in the mid-1980s). The BBFC has now granted the title a completely uncut 18 certificate and the release will include deleted scenes. There's a full version of the title's history here .

To the Imagination Gallery in London's West End, for the Big British Christmas, where BBC Worldwide held a day-long event for journalists showcasing the best gifts for Christmas across all its consumer products. 2 entertain’s DVD and Blu-ray releases form a core part of the impressive offering from the BBC’s commercial arm this festive season. The Raygun got to witness 2 entertain’s first 3D Blu-ray Flying Monsters (due on November 7), a David Attenborough-presented, Sky-produced programme; Doctor Who – showing everything from action figures to the Ride-In Dalek retailing at £200 (the must-have gift for Christmas this year), taking in an early version of the special edition complete series six box set housed in a fantastic Silence head, loads of Top Gear-related goodies, including clips from Clarkson's new release (Powered Up) and Top Gear At The Movies; and loads of gifting opportunities and box sets. Oh, and there were Christmas goodies to eat, some stewardesses (Come Fly With Me), a Del Boy lookalike (marking Only Fools And Horses' 30th anniversary) and loads more. As well as being a novel idea, the event also helped 2|entertain push its wares to the media; expect to see its product, including DVD and Blu-ray, appearing in a lot of gift guides. Anna Hollaway, head of communications for BBC Worldwide Consumer Products said: “The Big British Christmas event was the first time we’ve showcased our consumer products to the press in one place. All our top brands were featured from Come Fly with Me and Frozen Planet through to our stand-up offering plus Doctor Who, MasterChef, Strictly and our top kids properties. The press response and feedback has been fantastic so we hope this becomes an annual event. My personal highlight was witnessing three-year Rufus chasing Igglepiggle in the Ride-In Dalek…". 
We mentioned a Del boy lookalike above, but 2 entertain had some real-life Only Fools And Horses characters around this week to mark the 30th anniversary of the show. Boycie and Marlene, aka John Challis and Sue Holderness, have been on programmes such as Alan Titchmarsh and Lorraine to talk about the programme, tying in with the release of 2 entertain's labish 26-disc Complete Collection box set and a host of other BBC Worldwide-related Only Fools goodies. 
To London's Courthouse Doubletree hotel in Great Marlborough Street for a special screening of one of the year's most eagerly awaited films, Drive. The film, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, is due to open at cinemas today and has earned rave notices in newspapers, magazines and all over the Internet. Icon screened the film for assorted retailers and industry types such as The Raygun and you could sense just how anticipated this film is just by how packed the screening room was. Refn himself turned up to give a pre-film introduction, noting that each film needed five distinct elements – violence, romance, Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan (its two stars) and it needs to be just 90 minutes long. On the evidence of this film, we heartily agree with him… See Icon's 60 second spot for the film over on our website shortly…


4Digital Media drew a crowd of some of biggest names in Cockney gangster flicks to the premiere and launch of its wonderfully-titled Big Fat Gypsy Gangster film last week. The film itself has already received plenty of coverage, thanks, in part, to the presence of current X Factor judge Tulisa in the film, alongside a host of other familiar British names under star Ricky Grover. The premiere event was similarly chock full of stars such as Danny Dyer. The event has helped the film's sales start off brightly, as 4Digital's Steve Beecham explained: "It's doing well for a totally bonkers film, which the punters absolutely love but the critics seem to miss the point of. The event helped quite a bit. Loads of celebs – all Ricky's mates – were there and even Danny Dyer came and had a laugh. Johnny Vaughan came, he was on air on Capital Radio telling Hugh Jackman he 'never goes to premieres' but was going to his mate Ricky's for Big Fat Gypsy Gangster. The following morning, he went on air saying that the three of the scenes in BFGG were the best he had ever seen."
A date for your diary, or at least one for those interested in the exploits of the walking dead, as October 8 has been designated World Zombie Day. Luckily for Anchor Bay, the momentous occasion falls just before the independent releases its acclaimed feature The Dead, which has been a horror festival hit. The event sees the dead (or rather The Dead) taking to the streets of London on a mass zombie walk. The event is raising cash for St Mungo's, a charity that helps the homeless and you can even sponsor a zombie. And as Anchor Bay's Helen Blesky said: "There is a The Dead theme to this year’s zombie walk, to tie in with the release of [the film], with prizes going to the most imaginative offering. And as The Dead, is a zombie road movie set (and shot on location) in Africa we’re expecting some beauties (zombie zebra, anyone?)." It will provide the film with plenty of PR opportunities too, with photographers on board for the route and all the resultant coverage. See here and here  more.  
Our brouhaha of the week surrounds publication of a report that smoking was often seen in films viewed by teens and children below the age of 18 years old and the BBFC was "failing to protect children from this particularly harmful imagery". The BBFC has responded that it does take these elements into account when awarding certificates. The research, published in Thorax magazine, stated that "the actions of irresponsible film makers, incompetent regulators and insouciant politicians are abjectly failing to control" uptake of smoking among children and young people.  


“We are maximizing Blu-ray for whatever it is. But clearly, over time, this is a market that is moving over to digital."
Walt Disney Co cfo Jay Rasulo, comparing the packaged media market to "melting ice". Whether that ice cube is in the desert or elsewhere is a matter of debate,” he added. “But it’s definitely a melting ice cube.”
Whenever an anniversary comes round, it's always, in our eyes, a chance to both celebrate and also to mull over the fact that we've been in the industry for a long time now. And that's just what happened when we realised that French classic Amelie is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The original outing was one of those pivotal releases which helped changed the way consumers felt about foreign language films and to mark the event, Momentum is releasing the film on Blu-ray for the first time ever, alongside a theatrical reissue. As Momentum's Kristin Ryan said: "Amelie was a true phenomenon when it was released 10 years ago and helped to break down the previously held believe that foreign language films were solely serious art-house dramas. The celebratory cinema re-release and accompanying focus and features is a wonderful springboard for our Blu-ray release." It's not just Amelie though, a "contemporary classics" pack will partner Amelie with Lost In Translation ,Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Control and Requiem For A Dream, all on Blu-ray for the first time. Ryan added: "The release will be backed by advertising in key film mags and online sites and a full PR campaign including interviews with among others Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Control's Sam Riley."    
A busy week at UK cinemas, with no less than four new entries in the top 10, with the first Studiocanal-branded release following its name change from Optimum, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, sitting atop the chart, with £2.81 million in receipts. It was joined by The Change-Up, which took £727,000, I Don't Know How She Does It (£563,000) and 30 Minutes Or Less (£260,000). Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes has now passed the £20 million mark and The Inbetweeners Movie inches ever closer to The King's Speech's total and is at almost £42 million.  
Another week, another remake/reboot (or not, as the case may be) and this time around, following hot on the heels of its recent Blu-ray bow, Universal is said to be planning a new take on Scarface. It was originally a black and white gangster classic, before Oliver Stone penned and Brian de Palma directed a different spin on it. But the new version from Universal could be as different as the 1932 and 1983 versions were. Deadline Hollywood which broke the story said it would be neither remake nor sequel, but feature the same themes as the first two, with an immigrant rising up the crime ladder after arriving to live the American dream.   
Once every few years we'll sit down and rewatch our well worn copy of Diner, Barry Levinson's 1982 comedy that featured such luminaries as Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Ellen Barkin and, er, Steve Guttenberg. But we're still not quite sure about the news this week that the tale is being turned into a Broadway musical with Levinson penning the script and Sheryl Crow the misic and lyrics. Mainly because we can't even begin to work out how they're going to portray the popcorn bucket in the cinema scene…
Expendables 2 now, as filming approaches for the eagerly-awaited sequel from Lionsgate, news arrives that a younger star will be joining Stallone< Statham, Lundgren, Rourke et al for the actioner. Liam Hemsworth, due shortly in another Lionsgate title, The Hunger Games has joined on the dotted line. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are upping their roles and Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme are also entering the fray. 
We're always receiving ads from agency Oink, and they normally sort us out even if it's last minute. So we thought you might like this website the company has just launched…
Follow us on as we pretty much stick up mini-reviews of everything we watch… 
Red band trailer for The Thing…
We're waiting for The Muppets spoof of this…
Leonardo looks pretty convincing, apart from in the old man's outfit…
More from the Rec franchise, this is an excellent trailer…
Jackie Chan historical epic…
We've not been looking forward to a Sarah Palin-related film this much since THAT special interest one…
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