It’s already notched up one of the biggest hits of the year with The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug and Warner has this week unveiled the release date for one of the year’s biggest openers and theatrical performers thus far, with a whopping £32 million taken at cinemas so far). We are, of course, referring to The Lego Movie, the mere mention of which has almost everyone we know bursting into impromptu choruses of Everything Is Awesome. The film, a genuine phenomenon among kids and a cult favourite among older viewers, will make its physical bow on July 21, following on from a July 7 digital release. SKUs include Blu-ray 3D, standard Blu-ray and DVD, all with UltraViolet copies. The summer release date means retailers will get another bite of the cherry come Q4. Commenting on the release, Warner’s Sarah Craig said: “We’re delighted to announce the home entertainment release of The Lego Movie on 21st July preceded with a two week Digital EST window. Following the huge theatrical success, we are very excited to continue building the Lego universe this summer and again at Christmas.”
Its now less than a week away… Next Thursday (May 1) sees the annual event that is the BVA Awards taking place at the by now familiar venue of Old Billingsgate, down by the Thames in the City of London. Party frocks are being fitted and dinner suits being taken out of mothballs (or hired) verily as we speak. There are still a few tickets left for the event and, as BVA director general Lavinia Carey said: “We’re really looking forward to seeing what [host] Henry Paker can do as he’s got a great track record as a comedy writer and last minute ticket sales have suddenly picked up – anyone wanting tickets will need to book by Monday as that’s when everything will be finalised.” We’ll see you down the front or, more likely than not, propping up the bar at the event. Oh, and good luck to everyone who’s shortlisted. We’ll be endeavoring to do some live tweeting from the event on Thursday night too, so follow us on www.twitter.com/theraygun…
The year thus far has seen hit after hit arriving in store and more will follow in May. Chief among these is 12 Years A Slave, this year’s big awards winner due from eOne on May 12. And the company is planning to confer event status on the film on its release. As the company’s Jeff Suter said: “We are delighted with the success of 12 Years A Slave so far. The film has now grossed over £20m at the UK box office - outperforming all expectations and the amazing word of mouth has continues as we gear up for the home entertainment release. This really is going to be an event status release for eOne and I am extremely pleased with how the campaign has shaped up. We couldn’t have done this without the support of all the retailers – they have been amazing at recognising that the film appeals to a wide target market and by working closely with them we have ensured a fantastic presence across the retail landscape from HMV and the grocers to more non-traditional outlets. We are thrilled to be working with Waitrose and the Co-op and 12 Years A Slave will be stocked nationwide by these stores. All of this retailer support will be backed up with an event status above the line campaign, with a heavyweight presence across TV, large format digital outdoor, extensive press advertising, display and pre-roll. Alongside this we have an amazing PR campaign in place – people just want to keep talking about 12 Years A Slave! This will mean we can deliver saturation publicity across all media.”
The biggest deal of the past seven days has seen independent operation Go Entertain become part of Litebulb Group plc. The publicly listed company is a manufacturer and distributor of brands and products taking in everything form lunchboxes to scooters and boasts relationships with scores of retailers. It also has a creative agency, Litebulb Creative, in the group. Commenting on the acquisition, Go Entertain md Neil Harrington said: “Being part of the LiteBulb group is a great opportunity for Go Entertain and our customers. It allow us to add more value to the relationships we have with existing retailers as well as IPO holders. Being part of a fast growing publically listed companies also provides us with the security and support we need to grow our business as well as the accountability and openness that a public listing will provide our customers and partners.” Litebulb ceo Simon McGivern added: “The acquisition of Go Entertain is the latest stage in our expansion plans and we are delighted to welcome Neil and his colleagues into the group. By joining forces we will be able to widen our product offering, and strengthen the relationships we have with our retail partners.”
More deal news and TalkTalk and FilmFlex have signed a multi-year pact described as a “landmark”. It will see hundreds of films appearing on TalkTalk’s Essentials RV and Plus TV customers, as well as offering access to films through its YouView service. The on demand offering will give consumers the chance to rent films for 48 hours on or around their physical release. Commenting on the deal, FilmFlex ceo Jeff Henry said: “This landmark deal enhances our position as the white-label provider of choice to the leading media and telecoms brands in the UK. We work with ambitious, growing companies like TalkTalk to bring the latest movies to the widest possible audience. The key factors in our success to date have been our strong relationships with our brand partners and content owners coupled with our continued investment in our technical platform.” TalkTalk’s Tristia Harrison added: “YouView from TalkTalk is Britain’s fastest growing TV business and is fast becoming a destination for family entertainment. We have big ambitions for the service and continue to develop and enhance our offering to give our customers even more of the TV and films they love, all at a great TalkTalk price. This partnership with the movie specialist expertise of FilmFlex will help take us to the next level and gives our TV customers even more of the best content.”
And still there’s more, as the ever-ambitious Metrodome has announced the creation of a new sales arm., Metrodome International, due to launch at Cannes. As well as looking after sales for its own productions, it will represent titles from other producers, as well as looking after the AV Pictures library and new releases from the company. It will run independently of Metrodome’s distribution operation, although Jezz Vernon will be md of the newly-launched company too. Former AV staff Caroline Couret-Delegue and Jane Carolan will work at the new company, while AV will ramp up sister company Cinescope’s slate. Commenting on the new company, Metrodome ceo Mark Webster said: “‘We are pleased to see Metrodome’s group of companies evolving and beginning to establish the vertically integrated model which we feel is key to our growth going forward. The ability to produce, distribute and sell your content as well as the content of third parties benefits both producers and Metrodome alike.” Vernon added: “Having worked closely with AV on our titles we’ve been really impressed at what they’ve achieved for us and had a very good experience across the board. So we’re delighted that we could agree a deal with [AV’s] Chris Haimsworth and Angad Paul to bring Caroline and Jane in-house along with the AV line-up. With a busy production slate, and the contacts and opportunities that each side can bring, it’s the right time to launch our own sales agency.”
Dogwoof has been busy picking up titles and it’s picked up what looks to be a belter in Finding Fela, a documentary that looks at both the African singer and his legacy as well as the staging of a musical about him in America. Directed by the prolific Alex Gibney, whose most recent outing was The Armstrong Lie, it’s due to be released at cinemas in September with home entertainment to follow, after its airing at the Sundance London event. Commenting on its release, Oli Harbottle of Dogwoof said: “Alex [Gibney] has once again shown himself to be the pre-eminent documentarian to look at a hugely important yet complex individual of recent times. Fela Kuti’s widespread following both in the UK and internationally is ever-growing as people discover this political and musical icon, and we are hugely excited about introducing Fela to further audiences still.” Executive producer Stephen Hendel added: “We are delighted to be working with Dogwoof on both distribution in the UK and international sales. Finding Fela is an amazing film and tells an amazing story, and we are confident that Dogwoof will help us reach the audience it deserves.”
More on Anchor Bay’s new production World War Dead: Rise Of The Fallen, as discussed on the newsletter last week. Our Twitter followers will have seen us retweeting the clapperboard from the first scene as filming began on the set of the World War I zombie drama which sees the fallen heroes of the Somme rising from their muddy graves to mark the centenary of the war and Anchor Bay has been discussing its new co-production deal inked with Next Level Films. Anchor Bay’s Director Of Acquisitions Rod Smith said “I am delighted to be announcing this first Anchor Bay Entertainment UK production and excited to be working with such exciting and talented people as Bart Ruspoli and Freddie Hutton-Mills at Next Level Films. This project has been in development with us for some time as we searched for the right partners to work with, Bart & Freddie understood it immediately and helped us develop it to an even higher level. Along with our existing titles in pre-production with Jonathan Sothcott’s Richwater Films, we hope to be able to announce further projects in the near future as we develop our local production slate further.” Bart Ruspoli and Freddie Hutton-Mills of Next Level added: "We're delighted to be working with such a prestigious outfit as Anchor Bay on this exciting project, and are sure it will be the start of a long and successful relationship. With our fresh approach to the found footage horror film combined with Anchor Bay's experience and expertise in this genre this promises to be a film that will entertain audiences far and wide."
On the last issue of the newsletter we were also discussing Anchor Bay’s Black Sails, currently airing on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service and due on physical formats from the company later this year. Another big svod success, Orange Is The New Black, which started off its life as a Netflix property, is set to appear as a physical release from Lionsgate on May 19. Commenting on its release, Lionsgate’s Ben Grunbaum said: “We’re focusing on social media as a key element of the campaign. With the upcoming Season 2 out on Netflix on June 6, this is the perfect opportunity to ride of the increased awareness and promote ownership of the series.” We’ll be looking at the phenomenon of vod exclusives arriving as DVD releases on our website shortly…
Meanwhile, over at Netflix, the company has this week revealed it is increasing the price of its svod service in its territories around the world, from late June onwards. The rise, which could amount to £1 or £2 in UK prices, will only apply to new subscribers initially. In a letter to shareholders, Netflix stated: “In the U.S. we have greatly improved our content selection since we introduced our streaming plan in 2010 at $7.99 per month. Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only. Existing members would stay at current pricing (e.g. $7.99 in the U.S.) for a generous time period. These changes will enable us to acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience.”
Wuaki.tv has also been busy, unveiling partnerships with Samsung, LG and Panasonic which will see its app being added to each of the respective manufacturers’ 2014 Smart TVs. It will enable users to watch films from Wuaki through their TVs, an essential offering for any vod operator. Commenting on the announcement, Wuaki.tv’s Jordi Miro said: ““Having already launched on Samsung, LG and Panasonic’s previous ranges of Smart TVs, we’re really excited to be a part of the latest 2014 range. As more and more consumers are watching movies, TV and entertainment shows on-demand and online, Wuaki will continue to expand our range of supported devices so our content can be watched on any and all screens.”
Some diary dates now and the Terracotta Far East Film Festival the offshoot of the specialist Asian cinema label this week unveiled the line up for its 2014 event, due to take place between May 23 and June 1 across two London venues, the ICA and the Prince Charles Cinema. It will air 23 films, including international and European premieres, as well as hosting its Terror Cotta all-nighter. It will highlight the best the region has to offer across numerous venues, and, increasingly, like FrightFest before it, it is providing a launchpad for not just subsequent theatrical releases but numerous home entertainment bows too. Commenting on the event, Terracotta’s Joey Leung said: “I am absolutely delighted to be working with so many UK distributors - Universal, eOne, Lionsgate, Third Window Films - and our festival has a nice blend of films due to be released in the UK alongside some undiscovered gems that we are stoked to show audiences (acquisitions teams...come on down!). The festival isn't just about films - it's a social event in the same way that an annual music festival is, people come from all round the UK, Poland, France, Germany, Spain to attend Terracotta.” eOne’s Scott Monahan added: “eOne is proud to be working alongside Terracotta in their 6th annual festival with Prachya Pinkaew's Warrior King 2 forming part of the official selection. Set for release in Q3, Terracotta Film Festival will be the perfect platform for to get the fan's pumped for the return of Tony Jaa to their screens and show why he's still the king of modern martial arts.”
Also on the way is the geekfest that is the MCM Comic Con, held at EXCEL London on May 23 to 25, and organisers have come up with a wheeze of a promotional idea, inviting budding filmmakers to make a film within 48 hours around the event. Partnering with the MCM Expo Group is A1 Pictures, and selected entries will be shown on the big screen in the event’s Vidfest UK zone on Sunday. Films made as part of the competition will also be made into a DVD to be sold at the event and via Amazon after the fact. MCM Expo Group’s Josh Denham said: “Here at MCM Comic Con we are always looking to add value and content to our shows for not only our exhibitors but also our visitors. A 48-hour film race is a superb addition to our events and really makes us stand out from other pop-culture, gaming and film shows within the UK. This is a unique opportunity for our visitors to let their imaginations, and talent, run wild for 48 hours with the opportunity of winning a mixture of prizes and the possibility of being noticed by people in the industry. Do we have the next Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) visiting our show? We don’t know yet, but we’re very excited about our first MCM Film Race and this is a fantastic opportunity to find out.”
As for the MCM event itself, with the London event becoming bigger and bigger in recent years; this year’s promises to be the biggest ever. The Manga imprint has been there since the start, and the company’s Jerome Mazandarani has long championed MCM. He said: “MCM London Comic Con takes place again between Friday and Sunday the ExCel space in East London. We are expecting more than 90,000 visitors to the show, which will be an all-time attendance record. Manga will present a 220 square metre booth housing our new release shop, a clearance sale, Urban Species t-shirt and apparel store, Neon Martian toy shop and Viz Media book shop. We’ll also be hosting a Table Tennis boot camp for beginners with Team GB alumni, Darius Knight (also, the unofficial “Biggest Naruto Fan in Britain”). We have daily signings with the director of our upcoming anime release, Blue Exorcist The Movie as well as signings with the stars of Ashens And The Quest For The Game Child – the live-action YouTube movie sensation created by Stuart Ashens and soon to be released on DVD and Blu-ray by Anchor Bay. Plus, Andrew Hews, Jeremy Graves and myself will host our bi-annual MCM Comic Con @MangaUK Live Podcast Panel. It’s going to be epic.”
Last week we mentioned the forthcoming Home Cinema Day as part of our story on Record Store Day (at which, incidentally, we spent a whole lot more money than we intended too, but got an impressive haul, including the Terminator 2 seven inch and all those Death Waltz soundtracks we were banging on about), so now our attentions turn towards the more consumer-facing Home Cinema Day. And were pleased to announce that this year's event will take place on Sunday September 28, with bolder and more ambitious plans than ever. It's part of the Scalarama season that pulls together film clubs and organisations across the country to celebrate the weird and wonderful films immortalised by the old Scala in London's King’s cross (you can read more about it here and here. Scalarama's Michael Pierce said: "Home Cinema Day is scheduled for Sunday September 28 and we are currently pulling together our strategy involving numerous parties from across the film chain, especially retailers and rental. The final weekend of the larger Scalarama season throughout September, this year's edition is set to grow with an increased emphasis on social media interaction and incentives to take part." We at The Raygun will be playing our part too, to get involved, email us at the usual address and we'll put you in touch with the right people.
With cycling now firmly ensconced within the national psyche and two of the world’s biggest events visiting these shores this summer (heck, even we’ve been back on our bike for the best part of the month thus far), the time is right for the forthcoming Pantani: The Accidental Death Of A Cyclist. The film is the latest from 4DVD’s burgeoning film slate and will benefit from a freshly inked deal between the company and independent Soda, which will see the latter looking after the theatrical release. 4DVD’s Claire Bosak said: “Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist is being released theatrically by Soda on 16th May followed by the DVD release on Monday 26th May. These dates coincide with the Giro D’Italia, an important professional race that this year starts in Dublin before moving on to Italy. We are also planning promotion around the Tour de France, which first three stages start in the UK this July. 4DVD is working closely with Soda to produce a joined-up campaign across the theatrical and home entertainment release. With the growing interest in both professional and amateur cycling there is a large community of cycling enthusiasts and we recognised a need to instruct a specialist PR agency, in addition to our home entertainment agency, to communicate the film’s release to the this community. We are getting great feedback on the film and there is a lot of excitement around the release from the cycling press. The film is a fantastic and emotional story about what drives an athlete and appeals to a wide audience, not just cycling fans. Our strategy is to use social platforms and targeted online media to reach film lovers and cycling fans alike.”
“We shouldn't just focus on Google being the problem. We have to remember they are not creating the illegal content, they are not using the illegal content; they are just facilitating. They are engaging with me. They recognize something must be done. They don't want to go as far as I'd like them to go [...] but it will be a step in the right direction.”
Government IP advisor Mike Weatherley MP, speaking to US anti-copyright experts and journalists on a trip to the US, where authorities are trying to mirror some of the UK’s copyright PR activity…
AT THE MOVIES
With more than £9 million amassed in its first week, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 sat atop the UK box office chart after its opening bow. Other new entries included The Love Punch (£613,424), Locke (£251,063) and 2 States (£208,578).
With The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug still riding high near the top of the UK video charts, talk of the next film in Peter Jackson’s Tolkein adaptations ramped up a gear this week, as it was announced that it will be known as The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (another mouthful and lengthy to type, if you ask us). The previously mooted title, There And Back Again will, Jackson says, likely appear on one of the many box sets certain to follow the series end.
She’s already starring in a series of animated tales, but now Barbie is set to follow other toys by going live action in a potential new franchise. Sony is the favourite to win the rights to produce the films based on the adventures of the Mattel toy…
Revived movie hero of the week is Flash (“aah aaah saviour of the universe!”), as Fox is said to be working on a new update on the science fiction series that initially made its name as a Saturday morning cinema series.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
Forthcoming Metrodome title reteams Kristen Scott Thomas with director Phillipe Claudel…
Filmed over six years; new from Richard Linklater…
New Sin City trailer…
Great title for the film…
The best film we’ve seen this week, more in the next newsletter…