NEWSLETTER :: January 14 2011

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It Was A Good Week For…  Universal and Warner, both celebrating topping assorted year-end figures and Momentum for its massive King's Speech opening…

It Was A Bad Week For… Well, no-one really copped too much press flak over the past seven days, so we were a bit happier than the previpus week. Let's just enjoy it, eh?

The industry has spent the past week poring over the 2010 year-end data, analysing the figures and working out who did what with what title. The earliest winners are Universal and Warner, coming out tops among the studios and slugging it out for the title of distributor of the year. The former was number one in terms of market share in volume terms, the latter in value, but both enjoyed hugely successful, record-breaking years.

Universal's performance saw it having 13.1 per cent share in volume for the year. It also spent 19 weeks out of the 52 atop the overall charts, more than any other studio. The major also topped the catalogue charts more than its contemporaries, with 18 weeks. Other impressive figures saw its TV sales grow by 13 per cent, against a market decline, with its market share gaining more than one point to 7.7 per cent. Universal was also the number one studio in new release terms (a 12 per cent share, with sales up three per cent year on year) and it dominated the special interest sector (all genres outside of film, kids, animated film and television) with a near 19 per cent share. Within that, its share of the stand-up comedy market was 55 per cent. Its year was boosted by its strongest sellers in each genre, Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang (film), Coraline (children's), Les Miserables In Concert 25th Anniversary (music), Billy Connolly Live In London 2010 (stand-up), Hannah Waterman's Body Blitz (sport and fitness) and Downton Abbey (television). Universal Pictures md Ian Foster said: "We are absolutely thrilled, it's a great demonstration of our strength in depth across all genres."

Meanwhile, Warner was celebrating not just in home entertainment terms, but its record-breaking year crossed over to theatrical and not just on a UK level either, its success was both on a US and a global scale. UK home entertainment-wise, it was number one in value terms, with a market share of 13.4 per cent, the first time it had taken the top slot in five years. Similar to the early years of DVD, the studio dominated the Blu-ray sector, with an 18 plus per cent. Boosted by HBO, it was the number one studio for new release TV (more than 20 per cent market share) and it was also the number one non-theatrical family entertainment studio and the number one overall studio in Ireland. Warner Home Entertainment Group UK md John Stanley said: "2010 saw us distribute and capitalise on an extraordinary array of big name film and TV titles. Top of mind are The Pacific (the highest performing TV box set of the year), Inception (the number one DVD this Christmas), Sherlock Holmes, The Blind Side, The Firm, The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, which all outperformed expectations in new release; so too The Hangover, Gran Torino, Harry Potter 1-6 and The Polar Express in catalogue. The phenomenal results we garnered were driven by the hard work and market knowledge of our brilliant team and the fantastic support provided by our retail partners." Its other figures were equally impressive – it was the highest earning studio in terms of box office grosses, with its biggest ever year in terms of revenue (£204.1 million) propelling it to the top of the tree, with an 18.4 per cent market share. Its biggest theatrical earner, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, is still to arrive on DVD and Blu-ray. Warner was also top theatrical distributor in the US and worldwide, with a combined gross of a whopping $4.814 billion. With both instalments of the last Harry Potter tale due in 2011, this year has, said Warner Bros UK Ireland and Spain md Josh Berger "the makings of an equally successful year.  

We ourselves have been sifting through some of the year end data, not least because we've just compiled an exhaustive feature for our website on some of bestselling and best received titles of 2010. And one of the most intriguing battles took place in the television sector, with the unlikely battle between spotty teens The Inbetweeners and the battle-hardened veterans of the US army from HBO's The Pacific. In terms of the year-end top 10 TV titles The Pacific came out top against the third series of the Inbetweeners, but when you factored in all three series of the 4DVD comedy show, it was the year's bestselling TV brand with just under 1 million units sold. 4DVD's Karla Berry said: "The Inbetweeners is by far the most successful TV brand of 2010 selling nearly 1m units throughout the year, and the latest series 3 release was the biggest selling TV title of Q4 selling 587,488 units across the single and 1-3 box set releases. We are delighted with the sales results and such high sales of the box set (58 per cent of total sales) prove that there are still many people discovering the brand which bodes well for the eagerly anticipated movie later in the year."

The Pacific, meanwhile, sold 534,000 in Q4, making it, in value terms, the biggest US TV DVD ever. Interesting to note too that Band Of Brothers ended the year 12 per cent up, and has now passed the 2 million mark in terms of sales, cementing its position as the biggest TV DVD box set ever. It's also the fifth year on year growth for HBO in terms of market value (now more than nine per cent) and ads to Warner's TV titles to make it the biggest US studio for TV for the second year running. HBO's Ian Fullerton said: " We’re thrilled by how well The Pacific has done over Q4. It smashed all our forecasts and is now set up to be one of the leading catalogue titles of 2011. The retail support on this title was superb and it’s great that every sector of the market did well with the title."

Those kind of figures, would, we suggest, put paid to the myth being propagated by the mainstream media that DVD and even Blu-ray is dead and retail is on its knees. After the outrageous flak it received last week, HMV has this week moved swiftly – and positively – to allay some of those aforementioned fears. It has brought Gary Warren back from the Mama Group to head up the product team for its in-store offering, while Steve Napleton will now oversee the company's e-commerce, digital and ticketing offerings. Warren will oversee the traditional categories and newer lines, such as technology. The move enables HMV to focus equally on its different areas, concentrating on developing its online, digital and ticketing side at the same time as ensuring that it doesn't take its eye off the ball in its stores and continues to sell as much of what it stocks as possible. Further changes are expected to be announced shortly.

Would that the national press devoted as much space to HMV's charitable work as its trading figures, after the retailer this week unveiled a puppet that will become the face of its chosen charity, CLIC Sargent. HMV worked with its creative agency Libertine to develop a campaign that features the lamb puppet, which also involved creative talents who designed the ITV Digital Monkey and worked with the Muppets. The campaign highlights the work of children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent. HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said: " CLIC Sargent makes a real difference to the lives of children and young people with cancer, but it relies on donations from the public, so raising awareness is vital for it to continue with its work. hmv is delighted to be able to use its contacts in the creative industry to help the charity in any way we can.” The campaign has kicked off with a 40-second ad playing at the hmvcurzon cinema in Wimbledon, in front of The King's Speech. 
Talking of retail, Sainsbury's was among those issuing a trading statement this week and home entertainment, and DVD, received special mention. With its non-food sales growing at three times the rate of food, its success with Shrek Forever After, where one in every three copies bought in its first week was purchased from the grocer, was singled out.

So we've covered some figures, we've mentioned The King's Speech, which leads us, naturally, to stats about The King's Speech and its hugely impressive opening bow at UK cinemas. With a £3,510,000 first three days, the film has helped Momentum to chalk up its biggest ever opening weekend. It's been an exemplary campaign, building up a head of steam since its debut airing at last autumn's London Film Festival, taking in PR and marketing elements. Momentum Pictures president Xavier Marchand said: "The response from UK audiences to The King's Speech has been incredible. This is British film making at its finest and that has not gone unrecognised by British cinemagoers. Momentum has been involved with The King's Speech from early on and this weekend is the culmination of over a year’s hard work and great passion for the film."

It's been a busy week for Momentum. A glance at last weekend's newspapers saw The King's Speech dominating the cinema reviews and The Girl Who Played With Fire taking the lion's share of the DVD coverage – see more in our weekly round-up of the weekend's DVD and Blu-ray reviews at The home entertainment release of the second instalment of the Stieg Larsson adaptations is bucking the trend of sequels and looks like it's matching its predecessor, more next week.
There's loads more gone up on the website too, including a look at the CSI brand and our definitive top 10s of 2010. Also, while we're talking about ourselves, it's last call for our 2010 round-up and 2011 preview. All contributions are welcome, we've had loads in and are canvassing for a few more. The all-important questions you need to answer are:
Favourite three releases of the year:
Highlights of 2010:
Lowpoint of 2010:
Event of the year:
Biggest challenge in 2011:
What I'm looking forward to in 2011:
Answers to Results on the website soon… 
Back to news and it's been equally busy over at LOVEFiLM too. January has already seen two major announcements – the Icon streaming deal, a partnership with Sony – and a high profile TV advertising campaign (we've seen its TV spot countless times over the past week). The Icon deal offers the indie distributor's titles via the LOVEFiLM Player for its subscribers. LOVEFiLM ceo Simon Calver said the fact that companies such as Icon were working with LOVEFiLM on its streaming was a "huge endorsement" of its service; Icon md Ian Dawson added that LOVEFiLM "continues to innovate". The Icon titles are already being flagged by LOVEFiLM. Now the retailer has also announced that its members will be able to access LOVEFiLM via its new netbox, the Sony SMP-N100 network media player. Chief marketing officer Simon Morris said: "Our aim is to be on as many internet-connected devices as possible giving our members the opportunity to access our offering exactly when and how they want it."  

Recruitment news now, and former Blockbuster staffer Duncan Stripp (a man who knows more about DTV and the likes than almost anyone in the business, by our reckoning) has joined High Fliers in an acquisitions role. He replaces Tom Stewart, now at Arrow, and joins at a time when High Fliers is boasting an impressive slate going forward. Stripp said: "High Fliers has a reputation for championing a diverse array of films – everything from slasher movies to critically-acclaimed niche foreign language films. This is a wonderful opportunity to join a growing company which is truly passionate about films of all genres and are dedicated to the future of home entertainment." High Fliers' May Monteiro said: "We are delighted that Duncan is joining our growing team, bringing with him the wealth of knowledge he’s acquired over several years as a buyer. We look forward to his contribution to the company, bringing acquisitions that will no doubt benefit us and strengthen the catalogue for both High Fliers and Scanbox Entertainment."

That forthcoming schedule from High Fliers includes a batch of recent high profile acquisitions, taking in The Whistleblower, a thriller starring Rachel Weisz, Benedict (Sherlock) Cumberbatch and Monica Belluci; the Denzel Washington helmed The Great Debaters, which also features the star alongside Forest Whitaker; A Very British Gangster 2, a sequel to Donal Macintyre's documentary about British hardman Dominic Noonan; feelgood Britfilm No Ordinary Trifle, which boasts an instantly recognisable cast including Dougray Scott and Dark Matter, a thriller based on a true story with Meryl Streep and Aiden Quinn.

The last time England won an Ashes tour in Australia, rental was king but Blockbuster hadn't even reached these shores, the retail (or sell through) market was in its infancy, digital was something to do with watches and DVD, let alone Blu-ray, was just a gleam in a boffin's eye. But the team's win in the southern hemisphere has dominated the back – and news – pages this January and Lace DVD has snapped up the rights. The company has inked a deal for the entire series with IMG, Cricket Australia and Channel Nine. The deal includes a 90 minute warts and all documentary, The 2010/2011 Ashes Series The Inside Story, due for release in February. The programme looks at the series from the viewpoint of not just the players, but experts, commentators, journalists, the legendary Barmy Army fans and the behind the scenes staff and will feature new and unseen footage. Lace International md Adam Lacey said: "We have been lucky enough to publish a number of sports behind the scenes documentaries. The Ashes Test Series is one of the most special events out there and to get this level of coverage is quite incredible. Cricket fans are in for a real treat with this programme, something we have all wanted for many years and now, here it is." The title will be backed, Lace said, by "extensive marketing and PR".

We've praised its archive work to the hilt before and it's welcome to see the BFI keeping up the good work with its forthcoming release of the second DVD in its This Working Life series, which celebrates the country's industrial heritage. Tales From The Shipyard offers up five hours' worth of material looking at Britain's shipbuilding history, with features, short films and footage from the early 1900s, through the wars through to Sean Connery's only outing as a director, The Bowler And The Bunnet. The title is released on February 14. We've seen some of the material culled from the two-disc set, including the Titanic's sister ship the SS Olympic in Belfast, and it really is a worthy addition to the label's catalogue. The BFI's James Blackford said: "Tales Of The Shipyard really brings alive the stories of shipping communities around the UK. This selection draws on the remarkable feature film and television materials held in the BFI National Archive, Scottish Screen Archive and Northern Region Film & Television Archive and offer a richly fascinating and surprising view of a vanished way of life."

The BFI has, of course, pioneered the use of dual format releases, taking in Blu-ray and DVD, outside of the major studios, and it's interesting to note that another key independent, Eureka, is following its lead. Its March release of two Michelangelo Antonioni films, Le Amiche and La Signora Senza Camelie, will be available as dual format releases. Eureka's Ron Benson explained: "Where possible, we will be releasing dual format editions of films in The Masters of Cinema Series. We couldn't ignore the constant drumbeat of miffed DVD-restricted folk who contacted us to say they wanted to view our 2010 Blu-ray only releases. We've recently backtracked and created five DVD-only editions of titles we released on Blu-ray, and for future releases we will be convolving what would have been two separate format releases into one for a dual format edition. It is hoped that dual format editions, which have been heavily favoured by the BFI since March 2010, will please all parties."

More Blu-ray, and it's interesting to note that after putting some of its wonderful Film4 catalogue title out on Blu-ray, 4DVD is, with the forthcoming release of The Promise, putting out its first non-feature film BD title. The Promise is the latest thriller from award-winning writer and director Peter Kosminsky, was shot in Israel and Gaza and follows an 18-year-old Londoner in the region and is intercut with the memories of her grandfather, a member of the British peacekeeping force in Palestine at the end of world war two. 4DVD's Jessica Scott said: "The show is a huge priority for Channel 4 and 4DVD and will look fantastic on both DVD and Blu-ray."

We'll end with news from CES that Intel has invented a chip that as well as allowing speedy video handling may hamper film piracy. Its new Sandy Bridge processor has copyright-guarding elements, developed in conjunction with the studios, grafted onto its chips. "You've taken the excuse [for not putting HD or 3D movies online] away from us," said Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group president Kevin Tsujihara at a CES presentation. More from Vegas next week…  

"We'd like to thank all the fans of the show. It's incredibly flattering that so many people like the series enough to want to own it. We'd also like to thank everyone who borrowed the DVDs off friends and never gave them back, forcing the original friend to either have an awkward conversation or just buy another copy. You guys rock hard." Inbetweeners writer Iain Morris talking about the DVD's huge 2010 success.

The concept of the remake is a much-maligned one, certainly when it comes to horror and foreign language films. But Icon's March 14 release Let Me In is that rare beast – a remake that has been as well received as the original. Let The Right One In is Momentum's hugely successful Swedish vampire tale and Let Me In is the US-made feature that takes the same novel as its source. Many came to bury it, but ended up praising it. Now Icon is putting together a campaign that is aiming to broaden the audience for the original film. "Our creative approach is to make it look as exciting, thrilling and moving as the film is," said Icon's Chris Warrington. The company is going after an audience who may not have seen it on theatrical but are aware of the film, the original and the book. Icon is also wooing fans at the older end of the Twilight market too. "Let Me In sets a new standard for vampire movies," said Warrington. "This is the next level for people who watch the Twilight films; it's the A level to Twilight's GCSE." Icon is starting its campaign earlier than usual, and will continue to capitalise on the awareness generated by theatrical. Online will kick off a full three weeks before release, while the TV spots will begin 10 days before rather than the norm of just a few days ahead of the Monday. "It's a very dynamic, action-packed TV spot," said Warrington. Online will obviously look at social networking and social media elements, with some exciting promotional mechanics currently being finalised. These will be backed up by press spots in the week of release.     


It was all about The King's Speech this weekend, which helped fuel a strong weekend at UK cinemas, especially for British film-makers. Its massive bow overshadowed Danny Boyle's latest 125 Hours, but its opening frame of £2.17 million was no mean feat in itself. Lionsgate's excellent The Next Three Days also broke the £1 million barrier, while Nic Cage's newest starrer Season Of The Witch took more than £500,000.  

They're ubiquitous everywhere you go, particularly in our industry, from the cinema or screening room to the boardroom or meeting and even the pub or restaurant and now they're even being used to make films on… We're referring to Apple's iPhone, and famed Korean director Park Chan-wook, of Oldboy and Thirst fame, among others, is the first to make a proper film on the smartphone. Paranmanjang, out in South Korea at the end of the month, is a 30-minute tale of a man who catches a woman while out fishing. The fact that the phone is new means, director said, that it can create all kind of strange effects. Furthermore, it was good because "it is light and small and because anyone can use it". Let's hope cinemas aren't full of people texting on their iPhones…

It's one of the Internet's most talked about films, but, according to Ivan Reitman, nothing you've heard so far is true. He was referring to the near-mythical Ghostbusters 3, the third in a franchise that we've been waiting more than 20 years for. After rumour and counter rumour – most of them started by Dan Aykroyd, it seems – Reitman has this week confirmed a script does exist. But that's all, he has added. So no stars, no-one attached and, despite having sent it to him, Bill Murray has yet to read it, meaning nothing is really happening, yet. "Nothing you've read on the Internet is accurate," Reitman said. Which, incidentally, is pretty much, a motto by which you could live the rest of your life…

Two stories which you should have picked up this week: James Bond is back on the block as MGM announces that the next 007 film is going into production with an autumn date in 2012 slated for release. No distribution partner is yet to be announced. And there's been a whole load of Hobbit-related shenanigans, with loads of cast members being added, It's also been revealed, of course, that Warner will be looking after the theatrical and home entertainment distribution of this eagerly awaited fantasy outing.  

We spent the weekend tracking Momentum Pictures' (@MomentumPics ) impressive performance for The King's Speech, with almost hourly updates as to reaction to the film. Follow us on

You should all be aware of the excellent Photoshop Disasters blog now, but we chanced upon this site that focuses almost exclusively on film-related computer trickery:

One of those ones that gets a certain type of Internet user all hot under the collar:

This one seems to have been kicking around for a while, but still looks pretty effective:

Gregg Araki's latest is building some strong word of mouth…
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