PARAMOUNT'S CAST-IRON HITS...
...STUDIO REVEALS SLATE AND CATALOGUE ACTIVITY
CHARITY AUCTION GOODIES
MANGA FUMES AT PAPER GAFF
SIGHT'S FOR SORE EYES
LIONSGATE EXPENDS ENERGY
PLAYBACK'S TEAM GAME
METRODOME'S NEW SALES CHIEF
4 SIGNS ENGLAND SERIES
AT THE MOVIES
TWEET OF THE WEEK
SITE OF THE WEEK
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
COMING SOON ON DVD AND AT CINEMAS
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It Was A Good Week For... The trade breathed a sigh of relief as England got knocked out of the World Cup and we can get back to business...
It Was A Bad Week For... People who weren't bothered about what it meant for the trade and merely wanted England to perform in South Africa...
2009 saw Paramount dominating the last few months of the year, ending up as the number one Blu-ray distributor for Q4, and, after unveiling its line-up for the final part of 2010, the major is planning to do the same again this year. At a Q4 presentation at the end of last week, replete with Iron Man 2 emblazoned Audi R8s, the studio outlined its titles and plans for this Q4 with a raft of titles that it firmly believes bests all its rivals. "We have titles and activity to suit every type of retailer and consumer throughout the Q4 period," said marketing director Lesley Henry. That slate includes Iron Man 2, which boasts a 25 per cent bigger box office than the 1.8 million-selling first outing for the Marvel character. The title, available on October 25 and backed with a £1.5 million advertising push, will also be the studio's first triple play release, containing DVD, Blu-ray and digital versions.
Elsewhere, the studio's line-up includes not one but two biggies from DreamWorks, How To Train Your Dragon, which took more than £17 million and boasts impressive exit polls with 40 per cent of parents saying they will "definitely buy" it, and this weekend's monster theatrical opening, Shrek Forever After. The franchise already boasts a combined box office of £115 million and 12 million units sold. There's more family-themed adventure in The Last Airbender, the latest from M Night Shyamalan. In the post-Christmas slot it is offering up a Steve Carrell comedy in the shape of Dinner For Schmucks.
Paramount is also offering up a wealth of catalogue activity, including a major DreamWorks promotion, but it was its Movie Feast promotion that really caught the eye. It is based on extensive research that showed Paramount that consumers were shopping with the intention of buying a DVD to watch that night, or the next and turning their viewing into an occasion, watching with friends and family. Price is not the key here, it is building on that theme and offering £2.25 worth of discount vouchers for food, snacks and drink. The vouchers can be redeemed across a wide range of retailers and whilst cross-category display is a key objective in certain retailers, Paramount are also working with the third-party partners to ensure that this promotion can drive benefits to the whole retail trade, both physical and online. The activity will be supported by an above the line campaign. Paramount's Vicki Davis said: "We're really investing in this and trying to grow the category." A full feature on Paramount's Q4 activity will be going up on our website shortly.
Some financial news and HMV's results, published yesterday, made for interesting reading. On the whole, the figures make for impressive reading, aside from Waterstone's, but the retailer has promised a clear strategy for the book chain under its new management team. Total group sales were up 3.1 per cent, although like for like sales at HMV UK and Ireland were down 2.4 per cent. That rise across the group led to record sales of more than £2 billion, and profits before tax were up almost 18 per cent to £74.2 million. Chief executive Simon Fox said HMV would continue to evolve its product mix, increasing its fashion-related offering. Its digital output is set to grow too, and the company said it was expecting to "maximise our position as the last remaining high street entertainment specialist by outperforming the markets for music, visual and games". Fox said: "Whilst at an early stage, the three pillars ouf our new strategy to continue to evolve HMV's product mix, grow in live and ticketing and turn around Waterstone's are progressing on track as we continue to position the group for the changes that are taking place in our markets."
More interesting reading this week came courtesy of the BVA's quarterly ebulletin. It revealed that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is planning to undertake a consultation with the industry and interested parties to look at the exempt certificate and the suitability of some programming not submitted for children. The BVA was aware of the unease felt by some Conservative MPS and peers in this area. The response is likely to be in by the end of September with action to follow.
And the BVA-backed Blu-ray Partners confirmed it is currently putting its plans together for the rest of the year. While Blu-ray sales were up 69 per cent year on year for the first quarter, there is still, Simon Heller said, work to be done. After a busy early summer that saw it putting together a pre-World Cup bundle with Warner, Disney, Universal and Samsung, as well as issuing a press release that advised consumers (and journalists) on getting the most from their HDTVs and championing Blu-ray (which resulted in coverage on TV and radIo and in The Times, Mail, Telegraph and The Sun, it is now preparing for the latter part of 2010.
Tomorrow see a new charity fundraising initiative going live on ebay. The industry-supported activity will raise money for Action for Children, a charity long-supported by our sector. Moving on from the Film Industry Football Event (FIFE) and organised by its committee, it will auction film and DVD-related materials, such as signed merchandising and premiere tickets. And the FIFE committee has called on the industry to give as many items as possible for auction for the site. Lionsgate's Nicola Pearcey said: "The sort of material we have easy access to has a high value for the public and Action for Children's supporters." See here from Friday morning. To donate your goodies, email Barbara.Gill@actionforchildren.org.uk
Anime experts at Manga were left fuming this week after the Metro newspaper printed a link to a website that offered up illegal copies of its product. And the imprint may even take the matter up with the Press Complaints Commission after the newspaper refused to print an apology. The incident highlights something that The Raygun has noticed a few times recently, as newspapers and associated press websites offer up links to materials that appear to be illegally copied. Manga's Jerome Mazandarani said: "As far as we're concerned, when the Metro or any newspaper runs a story the majority of readers will believe the story is fact checked and more or less true. Therefore, Metro directing readers to an illegal anime streaming portal gives its readers the impression that this is a perfectly legal place to access Manga’s content without paying for it. Manga invests a lot of resources into educating its customers about the impact piracy is having on the industry as a whole. Our whole pricing strategy is designed to coax fans to do the right thing and our digital strategy is also designed to offer the content fans want for free as close to the Japanese TV broadcast as possible. Metro’s actions undo a lot of this good work." Manga is now taking up the issue with FACT in a bid to get the website closed, as well as pursuing the newspaper for a retraction. We can only salute the label's tenacity...
More product related news, as independent label Second Sight readies itself for a busy few months. After recent successes such as the excellent Breaking Away (a criminally ignored film that at last gets the DVD release it deserves), the company is giving a Blu-ray bow for Picnic At Hanging Rock. As Second Sight's Chris Holden said: "Some films benefit more than others from the HD treatment and a film as visually stunning as this deserves all the care that has gone into bringing it to Blu-ray. The new transfer has been supervised by Peter Weir and looks incredible." But the two that have got us at The Raygun most excited are November's Dougal And The Blue Cat and The Double Deckers, in special edition and 40th anniversary editions respectively. Of the former, Holden said: " I've been trying for over 5 years to get the rights back to this and have really high expectations for the release. I get constant emails asking about plans for a release and can now give positive news. I'm having the film completely restored and the release will include the original French version as a bonus feature. The support I'm getting is fantastic. There will be interviews with Mark Kermode ('one of my favourite films ever'), Emma Thompson, Sophie Thompson and Phyllida Law (Eric Thompson famously rewrote and narrated the Magic Roundabout for the UK) and the voice of Madam Blue herself, Fenella Fielding. This release has been a long time coming and I know from my inbox that demand is high." And with regard to The Double Deckers (those of a certain age should be singing the theme tune as they read this), Holden added: "Probably one of the last great kids series to see the light of day on DVD, this was a firm favourite in the early 70's. I'll be working closely with the fan site for the release and we're hoping to get the cast reunited for a bonus feature. At the moment there are over 4000 signatures on an online petition for its release so demand is certainly there."
A brace of forthcoming theatrical releases are giving canny distributors the opportunity to cash in. Chief among these is Lionsgate's The Expendables. The actioner brings together a host of major action heroes, from Stallone to Lundgren, taking in vets such as Schwarzenegger and new stars of the genre, such as Jason Statham and Jet Li. Lionsgate is joining forces with Optimum to promote a range of Action Legends titles, which, as Lionsgate's Marie-Claire Benson said will "whet everyone’s appetites before the main attraction from Lionsgate on August 19th". Lionsgate itself is riding product in on the back of this release, with next week's Command Performance release. It not only stars Dolph Lundgren, but is also directed by the great man. It will be released complete with a Expendables-themed sticker, boosting both the forthcoming theatrical release and helping Lionsgate's DVD ride on the back of it. Benson added: "Command Performance and The Expendables will ensure Lundgren emerges once again as one of the all-time great Action Legends on DVD, and we’re very pleased to have secured his support for the release of both titles."
Another big theatrical release affording a DVD opportunity is The A-Team. The film opens at the end of the month and Universal Playback is planning ot capitalise by relaunching the original series on DVD. All five seasons will be available individually, or as a complete box set, and Playbacl is also launching a Triple Action Pack, a sampler offering up three episodes of the 80s series. Playback senior product manager Grace O'Donnell said: "With the new movie coming out at the end of the month there is naturally a lot of interest in the classic A-Team series and Universal Playback is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this. The original series DVDs have consistently performed for us over the years but we’re expecting a surge in interest as a result of the new film and so we’re supporting the brand’s re-launch with targeted advertising across men’s lifestyle publications and through a broad range of ISPs and entertainment sites. Additionally our publicity team is working closely with journalists to make sure they’re all reminded that when it comes to the classics, the original is nearly always the best.”
Changes afoot at Metrodome, with rumours of a deal with Target in the offing, the company has upped John Ramchandani to the role of head of sales, replacing the outgoing Jamie Brewer. He will oversee all aspects of sales at the company, taking in home entertainment, new media, TV and theatrical. He will report into head of distribution Jezz Vernon. Chairman and ceo Mark Webster said: "We are absolutely thrilled to see John step into the role of head of sales. John has impressive experience across both the theatrical and home entertainment sides of the business. John has earned his promotion by combining a dedicated, hard-working approach to the job, his wealth of contacts and his popularity throughout the industry."
And we'll end with a couple of quick product announcements and links, ahead of our fuller Trailers Of The Week (see below) and more detailed stories to come. Firstly, it's been the talk of the Internet for a while, and the trailer on youtube had garnered million of views, but Bounty Films has announced a theatrical release date for The Human Centipede. Bounty's sales and distribution is looked after by Eureka, of course, and although this is at the other end of the spectrum from titles such as Eureka's own Metropolis (in its new version out later this year), it has bags of DVD potential. The film will be released at cinemas in August, and you can see the trailer here.
This as been on our radar for a while, but 4DVD has landed the UK home entertainment rights to This is England 86, Shane Meadows' TV series follow up to the excellent film. There's a trailer here, with a release provisionally slated for October 11. It looks ace.
AT THE MOVIES
Russell Brand raced to the top of the UK box office with the launch of Get Him TO The Greek, Universal's comedy took more than £1.5 million in its opening frame, ousting Lionsgate's Killers. The only other new entry was Icon's The Collector, which took more than £100,000 in its bow. Over in the US, where the World Cup is not quite the dominant force it is on these shores, Toy Story 3 continues to rule the roost, with more than $227 million in receipts.
Rejoice, Pee-wee is back. More than 20 years after Paul Reubens' character hit cinema screens in a Tim Burton helmed yard, word is that he is set to return. And better still, the man behind the comeback is comedy creator Judd Apatow, the man behind some of the best comedies of recent years such as Knocked Up. Reubens is currently writing a new script for Reubens along with actor Paul Rust, of I Love You, Beth Cooper fame. He has already revived Pee-wee for a successful stage show, and the film promises to be a "gigantic adventure", rather than just a big one, as experienced in his 1985 feature length outing.
Speaking of Tim Burton, as we were briefly, we note that the gothesque director is reputed to be working on a new version of The Addams Family. Now, we at The Raygun are big fans of the two feature length outings from the 1990s, but Burton's take on it will be all together different. Not least in that it is being filmed using stop motion animation. Burton and producer Chris Meledandri has said the new look will refer back to the original newspaper cartoon strip that inspired the television series. Whether it is filmed in black and white, as is rumoured, remains to be seen.
Toys are all the rage in Hollywood right now, with Disney and Pixar's latest outing, Toy Story, still dominating at US cinemas before taking over the rest of the world, and producer are lining up with toy-related features. Latest to join the crowd is Lego. Yes, you heard it right, Lego. Warner is developing the film and this week announced that Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the pair responsible for Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, are on board to helm this outing. It will join the likes of Rock Em Sock Em Robots and Battleship on the development schedule...
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Within seconds of going online, the Harry Potter trailer was all over Twitter, proving just how quickly this works.Follow us at http://twitter.com/theraygun
SITE OF THE WEEK
It's a website as much as much as anything else, but it's almost worthy of its own entry and not getting lost among the trailers. You know we stick up a lot of trailers on here, but this, repeat, this, is what it’s all about; this is a proper trailer:
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
Someone sent us this a while ago, it's brilliant: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/sony/animalkingdom/
You know the deal with this one: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/universal/littlefockers/
"Ooh look, Stringer Bell's got a Cockney accent." Idris Elba's voice reverts to its Hackney roots for this once in a lifetime heist thriller: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/takers/
And just in case you've spent the last week in isolation, here's the new Harry Potter trailer: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/wb/harrypotterandthedeathlyhallows/
OUT NEXT WEEK ON DVD
Age Of The Gunslinger (Metrodome)
Ashes To Ashes (E1)
Age Of The Gunslinger (Metrodome)
Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Revolver)
The Avengers Complete Series 4 (Optimum)
Axis Of War Night Raid (Metrodome)
Battle For Terra (Universal)
Benny Hill Annual 1984 (Network)
Benny Hill Annual 1985 (Network)
Beyond The Pole (Brightspark)
Bikini Girls On Ice (Kaleidoscope)
Chance In A Million Series 2 (Revelation)
Command Performance (Lionsgate)
Doctor Who Series 5 Volume 2 (2entertain)
Fit In Five (Acacia)
Force Of Five (Cine Asia)
The Fosters Complete Series One (Network)
Funny Games (Kaleidoscope)
The Gaffer (Network)
Hachi A Dog’s Tale (EV)
Humf Volume 1 (E1)
The Mafia (Acorn Media)
The Marc Pease Experience (E1)
The Mind Of Mr JG Reader (Network)
Morecambe And Wise Series 8 (2entertain)
Mystery And Imagination (Network)
Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief (Fox)
Post Grad (Fox)
The Rector’s Wife (Acorn Media)
Shiva Rea Surf Yoga Soul (Acacia)
The Smurfs Season 1 (Fremantle)
The Spoils Of War (Acorn Media)
Surgical Spirit (Network)
Stargate Universe Season 1 (Fox)
Tales Of The Gold Monkey Complete Series (Fremantle)
Tom Watson Lessons Of A Lifetime (Good Guys)
The Tracy Anderson Method presents Post-Pregnancy Workout (ITV Studios)
Twilight An Obsession The Unauthorised Story (4Digital Media)
Undead (Anchor Bay)
The Venture Brothers Season 2 (Revolver)
Weekend At Bernie’s (Network) (Blu-ray)
Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club The Complete Second Series (Network)
White Collar Season 1 (Fox)
Without A Trace (Warner)
The Woman In White (2entertain)
Worried About The Boy (Universal Playback)
Wrestlemania 26 (Clear Vision)
OUT THIS WEEK AT CINEMAS
The Ballroom (Matchbox)
Gay S*x In the 70s (Peccadillo)
Shrek Forever After (Paramount/DreamWorks)
When You're Strange (The Works)
White Material (Artificial Eye)
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