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It Was A Good Week For... Anyone counting up a Black Friday bonanza
It Was A Bad Week For… Anyone struggling to get vans in and out…
And so the week after the Black Friday rush, as sales settled down after the spike, assorted industry figures pored over the details of the sales amassed on the day and beyond, and Amazon celebrated, as noted here last week, its biggest day ever. Home entertainment sales were up 120 per cent compared with the previous 10 Fridays and while it may have been down on 2014, many believed that there would be less of a resulting drop off in sales after the fact, with a smoother graph than last year, when sales tailed off more noticeably. BVA chief executive Liz Bales said: “Home entertainment was well represented this year with many of the digital platforms complementing in store activity with well curated offers promoting selected new release and a host of catalogue titles.” One of the real winners this year was mobile – with online sales up 50 per cent year on year, and nearly half of all online sales coming from mobile transactions. 
And what of this week? Well, Ant-Man was leading the way, with sales of 131,000 in its first few days on sale, according to the Official Charts Company’s midweek bulletin. This puts it on course to replace another Disney title, Inside Out, in the number one spot come Sunday when the week’s final chart is announced. Magic Mike XXL was posing rather nicely at number five, with the less graceful figure of Mrs Brown at number seven with the latest outing, How Now Mrs Brown Cow. Beyond these, other new entries include Cliff RIchard’s 75th birthday concert at number 18, Agent Carter, like Ant-Man another Marvel title, at number 21 and Being AP, about jockey AP McCoy, just beyond this at number 26. The latest David Attenborough release, The Hunt, was at number 32 and the ninth series of Lewis a few places behind this, at number 39.

We talked last week about the initial success of Joe & Caspar Hit The Road, the first home entertainment release to really capitalise on the phenomenon of YouTubers. And after its first week was confirmed as the biggest week one special interest seller of Q4 thus far, you can expect acquisitions executives to be eyeing more YouTubers for made-for-video releases going forwards. The publicity and marketing push for Hit The Road continued into its second week, with the hugely popular duo appearing at assorted signings around the country at hmv stores and the likes. And there’s more comment too, as Dominic Smales, md and Founder of Gleam Futures, Joe and Caspar’s Management Company noted: “We are all absolutely delighted with the amazing week 1 sales of Joe and Caspar Hit The Road. The world premiere on Leicester Square was a watershed moment for me with thousands of viewers able to join in the celebration of the this important step in the boys’ career. Having the event live streamed on YouTube and the 300,000 subsequent views are only further testament to how excited the audience are to see Joe and Caspar making different content to the videos they are used to seeing on their YouTube channels.” The chaps themselves also weighed in. Joe Sugg said: “It's a privilege to be up there with some great films. It was such an exciting project and we're so glad it's been well received. I really hope the fans enjoy it.” Caspar Lee added: “It's exciting to see that people are supporting us on different platforms. Thank you so much to our loyal viewers.”
Out now as a digital HD exclusive from Paramount is the latest instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, Rogue Nation, which sees Tom Cruise holding on to the side of a plane and more in the name of the IMF organisation. And it’s proving to be a winner for those online retailers, as’s Simon Homent noted. He said: “We've had an early Christmas treat with the latest Mission: Impossible release, thanks to great on platform exposure and one of our biggest social media campaigns. It's a perfect movie for our smart TV customers to enjoy in their home cinemas, and we're expecting it to stay towards the top of our chart now for the remainder of the month.”
And Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation arrives as a physical release on Monday December 7 courtesy of Universal as the biggest release so far under the pact between Paramount and Universal. The film well benefit from a stunt at Victoria Station that will enable commuters to relive that plane stunt featuring Tom Cruise, as well as a primetime hero slot during the X-Factor semi-finals. Also over the weekend, there’s PR from one of its homegrown stars Simon Pegg, who’s slated to appear on the Jonathan Ross Show. It’s also benefiting from cinema advertising ahead of films such as Spectre and Black Mass and Bridge Of Spies, with digital cars the likes of Sky Sports. Commenting on the release, Universal’s Lisa Penna said: “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the best Mission yet. We hope fans enjoy taking part in the virtual reality experience and getting the chance to be in Tom Cruise’s shoes for the day.”

It’s Amy Schumer time, with a double whammy of activity from the comic, with this week seeing HBO release a live stand-up special, Live At The Apollo, featuring the star. The hour-long programme features her on stage in the New York theatre (not the London one) and further boosts its comedy credentials, it’s directed by Chris Rock. Commenting on the release, HBO’s Grace Alexander said: ““We’re really excited to be releasing the Amy Schumer HBO special this week, she’s hilarious and so popular right now- this title is the perfect gift for Christmas.”
And Monday December 7 sees more Schumer, in the shape of the star’s big crossover comedy ht, Trainwreck, released by Universal. The £3.2 million grosser is being supported by TV spots targeting female and romcom programming, while online activity will use pre-rolls and video billboards on the likes of the Daily Mail and Stylist. Commenting on the release, Universal’s Emma Havens said: ““We are proud to be bringing the hysterical, original and witty Amy to fans with a fun campaign showcasing the comedic talents of Amy, Bill Hader and the incredible supporting cast.”
It’s been a big week for a few of the industry’s key forces in the fight against piracy. Let’s start with the recently launched Get It Right From A Genuine Site, with the organisation aimed at directing consumers to legitimate sites, highlighting the importance of creativity, took the next step in its regional campaign, this time heading to Wales. A huge mural featuring singer songwriter Gwenno appeared on the wall of creative community hub, Clwb Ifor Bach, the second of five set to appear around the UK. Gwenno’s Y Dydd Olaf is already one of The Raygun’s favourite albums of the past 12 months or so, it’s a concept album based on a 1976 Welsh language sci-fi novel and really is a belter. Commenting on the campaign, Gwenno herself said: “Get it Right from a Genuine Site is promoting a very important message to young people about the value of creativity on their own doorstep and beyond. Wales produces some of the brightest creative talents in the world; in every discipline imaginable. We have many unique and important stories to share through our art, and in order to be able to continue the wider community must support us by getting our work from legitimate sources. That's what the @getitright campaign stands for. I'm honoured to be part of this artwork that celebrates and represents all the wonderful creativity that this city has to offer.” One of the industry spokespeople behind Get It Right, the BPI’s Geoff Taylor, added: “By creating these murals unique to the individual cities, we want people to understand the importance of supporting the films, TV, music, games, books, magazines and sports they love within their own communities; by doing so they invest in creating more of great content and in the development of new artists and ideas. Our goal is to encourage everyone to get their music, TV, film, books, newspapers, magazines, sport and games from genuine services and to support UK creativity.” We'll have more on our website shortly…
Equally busy is the Industry Trust, which has also this week launched the latest in its ongoing campaign aimed at promoting the benefits of watching films legitimately and further directing consumers to its legal film and TV search engine, The stars of the latest thrust in the campaign are Snoopy and Charlie Brown, ahead of the release of The Peanuts Movie. We’ll have the ad up on our website shortly, but in the meantime, here’s Fox theatrical md Cameron Saunders on the launch, saying: “We’re hugely supportive of The Industry Trust, and is a great way to help audiences find quality content from genuine sites. In 2015 we distributed both Spooks: The Greater Good and Suffragette backed with the outstanding Industry Trust campaigns, and we’re absolutely delighted with the upcoming Moments Worth Paying For campaign for Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie. Bringing the magic and affection of Snoopy and Charlie Brown to the big screen, it’s a heart-warming, all-audience delight of a movie, and no better fit for the Industry Trust campaign at Christmas. Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Twentieth Century Fox wish cinema audiences everywhere a very Happy Xmas.” The Trust’s Sylvia Wan added: “Educating audiences on the value of the cinema experience is something we aim to achieve through Moments Worth Paying For and this trailer really advocates that. Alongside the UK exclusive footage the core messaging encourages audiences to make the right choice when consuming content, inspiring them to choose the big screen experience with friends for enjoying film moments that really are worth paying for.” 

More on what is set to become a Christmas favourite, as Studiocanal readies itself for its February release of one of the big TV programmes due to air over the holiday season. Shaun The Sheep – The Farmer’s Llamas is due on February 8 and after airing to the Royals and other dignitaries (including The Raygun) recently (see previous issues of The Raygun), Studiocanal is putting its marketing together for the release. As the company’s Kristin Ryan said: “This Christmas sees the return of Shaun the Sheep in his very own half hour TV special. With the arrival of three cheeky hilarious llamas, Mossy Bottom Farm is thrown into even more chaos than usual resulting in some very funny llama dramas. The campaign activity around the broadcast includes a branded character ident, press, PR and high profile promotions including Premier Inn, Butlins, Hobbycraft and Las Iguanas restaurant chain. We’re very excited to be releasing the DVD on February 8th for half term and will support it with a full PR, promotional and social campaign.”
Also due to air over the Christmas period on TV, and with its own DVD release planned for February, is Stick Man. It’s another Julia Donaldson story and follows a similar route to the likes of other Donaldson adaptations, such The Gruffalo. eOne’s Thom Leaman said: “We’re very pleased to announce February 1 as the DVD date for the soon to be classic animated film Stick Man. Based on the massively successful children’s picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, authors of The Gruffalo, Gruffalo’s Child and Room On The Broom, and from the same production team behind the animated adaptations of those titles – all of which have been top sellers on DVD for us at Entertainment One. It was confirmed this week that Stick Man will be broadcast on Christmas Day on BBC 1 in the much coveted teatime slot, and having been lucky enough to see a sneak preview I’m pleased to say it’s an absolute delight. The DVD will come beautifully packaged, packed with extras and gift with purchases. We’re sure it will be THE must-have kids DVD for the Feb half-term, and as with all our previous Julia Donaldson adaptations will undoubtedly be a perennial seller year-round.”
With its final instalment in The Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay Part 2, topping the box office again, it’s as good a time as any to look at Lionsgate’s slate for the first quarter of 2016. Of course the final adventures of Katniss and co are a key plank of its schedule for the first part of the year, with the usual comprehensive marketing and appeal to completists, existing fans and a wider market. Commenting on the release, Lionsgate’s Ben Grunbaum said “We cannot wait to share the final instalment of the Hunger Games with all the amazing fans at home entertainment. The whole event will be a celebration of the franchise and aimed around giving as much back to the fans as possible.”
Beyond this it’s a busy and eclectic slate from the company, with WWE action January from WWE Studios in the shape of 12 Rounds 3: Lockdown, starring the wrestling organisation’s Dean Ambrose and, in the same month, something far gentler, in the the form of Paper Planes, a family film we’ve already covered previously here. Into February there’s more from the WWE, with Randy Orton starring in The Condemned 2. Sicario will arrive with TV and digital marketing support and on the back its appearance on plenty of year-end top 10s, with another critical favourite, Brooklyn, due on February 29, also on the back of a successful theatrical release. There’s children’s adventures in The Little Penguin: Pororo’s Raving Adventure and Beyond Beyond, due ahead of Easter. Lionsgate’s Ben Grunbaum added: Our eclectic line-up covers some of the best films recently released. The awesome thriller Sicario to the critically acclaimed Brooklyn. WWE superstars Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton will heavily support our two WWE studios releases. For all the family we have 3 quality titles of Paper Planes, Pororo and Beyond Beyond."

Back to Black Friday and vod platform FilmDoo teamed up with distributor Shameless Screen Entertainment for a Black Friday celebration ushering in the event, as they say, black gloves style, with 50 per cent off all their giallo-themed horror films. Shameless' Garwin Spencer Davison said: “FilmDoo are such big fans of this fascinating genre that they went ahead and made a cool trailer just for us. This tasteful/less Black Friday offer is a welcome antidote to the shopping madness in the high street.” FilmDoo's Simon Savory added “What better way to slash prices? The special offer ends Christmas Day, and applies to the entire FilmDoo catalogue.” There’s a great trailer for it here…

A Cyber Monday deal over at Amazon Prime, meanwhile, offered its subscribers the chance to get a sneak preview of the first episode of the second series of Transparent. It was part of a flurry of activity this week. It included ordering its first homegrown exclusive original series, The Collection. Commenting on the series, film and TV strategy director Chris Bird said: “"We’re delighted to be bringing such a smart, sophisticated period piece to Amazon Prime members in the UK. We aim to bring our customers the best international TV has to offer, and we’re sure our members will enjoy this window into the seemingly glamorous world of Parisian haute couture, perhaps hiding a more sinister undercurrent.” It also ordered a series of The Trial, a new exclusive series starring Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt. It also announced the second series of Mozart In The Jungle is due to air from December 30… 
Meanwhile, over at YouTube, the company is, according to reports this week, planning to take on Netflix, Amazon and co with its YouTube Red service, with talks beginning with studios and other content creators to not only license film and TV programming, but commission its own product too. A report in the Wall Street Journal stated: “The shows or movies may be streamed exclusively on YouTube Red, or could be released through traditional channels like movie theatres, cable networks and DVDs alongside the YouTube subscription service.”

Virgin Media is getting in on the act too, inking a deal that has seen Ash Vs Evil Dead, the TV series based on the legendary horror franchise, arriving on its on demand service from December 1. And it looks like there will be more to follow. Virgin Media’s Dvid Bouchier said: “We are very excited about bringing Ash vs Evil Dead to the UK, exclusively for Virgin Media customers. This long-awaited and much anticipated series marks a step-change in our TV programming strategy and demonstrates the true potential for video on demand. By investing in original series and bringing more exclusive TV shows to Virgin Media customers, we are unlocking the power of the boxset once again. Ash Vs Evil Dead is just the start for Virgin Media customers.” Starz’ Mara Winokur added: “Fans throughout the world have been thirsting for the return of Ash. Starz is thrilled to partner with Virgin Media and honoured that the truly ‘groovy’ new hit series, Ash vs Evil Dead was selected to kick off its new on demand programming initiative for UK audiences." 

“This flexible distribution model allows us to maximise the revenue potential of these films, satisfy consumer demand through legitimate digital access, while respecting and preserving an exclusive theatrical window.”
Paramount’s Megan Colligan, unveiling shorter window rental and sell through vod releases for Scout’s Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse and the latest Paranormal Activity films in the US under a revenue sharing deal with theatrical exhibitors…

As we’ve noted above, The Hunger Games stayed in the top slot, with Mockingjay Part 2’s UK box office haul approaching £20 million. It kept Disney’s The Good Dinosaur, which took a touch under £3 million, off number one. Elsewhere, it was Oscar bait weekend, with  Bridge Of Spies (£1.7 million), Black Mass (£1.3 million) and Carol (£540,632) all vying for cinemagoers’ attention. 
Film news of the week must surely be the story emanating from Leicester, as news emerges that Adrian Butchart, the producer of the Goal! trilogy of films (the one that saw a young South American footballer make his way to stardom with the likes of Real Madrid, via, er, Newcastle, is eyeing another unbelievable tale about an ungainly lad plucked from obscurity and into Premier League stardom, breaking records along the way. Only this time it’s true: for the film is being planned around Leicester star Jamie Vardy. Even the player himself seems somewhat shocked at the news. Sadly, Wilfred Bramble, aka Steptoe himself, is no longer with us to play the role of his footballing lookalike…

Not a week goes by without talk of a film property looking to TV screens and the latest to head in that direction is Sylvester Stallone, with Rambo: New Blood seeing him reprising one of his iconic roles for Fox TV…

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