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It Was A Good Week For… The Avengers, kickstarting the summer season at cinemas ahead of n autumn release…

It Was A Bad Week For… The Pirate Bay, blocked in the UK says judge…

So, tonight (Thursday) is one of the most eagerly awaited events on the industry's calendar, the BVA Awards. We're sending out this week's edition of The Raygun newsletter nice and early on a Thursday and, tomorrow, when we're rid of our hangovers,  we'll be sending out a second newsletter with the full list of award-winners from the event, reaction to the event and more in an awards special, so keep 'em peeled for that…
One of the nominees at tonight’s awards is Momentum’s The King’s Speech, which has been shortlisted in the marketing for films with a £10 million plus box office category. Win or lose there’s no denying that film’s success and Momentum is currently readying itself for the release of its next box office biggie, The Woman In Black which is, as we’ve noted here, the highest grossing British horror flick ever. The Raygun will, of course, be covering this release in the coming weeks. One feature we’re putting together for our website will look at the film’s 12 certificate, and how, for many teenagers under the age of 15-years-old, it will be the first horror film they ever see (certainly the first to frighten the living daylights out of them, as it did for even hardened children of the video nasty generation such as ourselves). So keeping in that spirit, we at The Raygun are talking to people across the trade, asking them for their first scary film experience. What was the first film, or even television programme (from Stephen King’s The Stand to Doctor Who) to scare the pants off you? Please nominate your selection, with a reason why (it can be just a few words, or longer) and email them to the usual address ( Let’s just say, it’ll be a good way to look like you’re busy on Friday when you’re struggling with a hangover…
Back to the BVA now and the trade organisation has revealed the figures for the first three months of the year. And it was a case of steady as she goes for the business, no mean feat given the recessionary pressures on the economy and the doom and gloom across the country. Blu-ray was up 18 per cent, with 3.5 million discs sold in the first quarter. There was a further 15 per cent rise in value in Blu-ray, to £45.2 million. Digital video sales rose 14 per cent, to £72.8 million. Physical discs still account for 30 per cent of the market. Overall, total value of video entertainment spending was down three per cent. BVA director general Lavinia Carey said: "The Q1 figures show that the video industry is holding its own against a tough economic background. Given the pinch on the consumer purse, illustrated by the 4% drop in ASDA’s income tracker, it is heartening to see a 3.1% increase in the average weight of disc purchase, even though inflation remains relatively high. The rise in digital and Blu-ray sales is where we would hope to see growth and it is encouraging that our audience is increasingly enjoying viewing content on a range of formats, alongside the nation’s traditional favourite – the physical DVD."


Talking of Q1, some interesting figures were unveiled by Kantar Worldpanel this week, which suggested, as our old panels at Marketing Week magazine noted, showed that HMV's "multichannel efforts have paid off". The company's latest Entertainment Retail Barometer, for the three months to mid-March, showed that HMV was closing in on Amazon. The former increased market share by 1.7 per cent to 19.2 per cent, the latter had lost some share in the post-Q4 market and was now at 19.9 per cent. HMV's ahead of eCommerce and insight Paul Stevens said: "We're doing our best to create a far stronger multi-channel offer, especially now that the recent alignment in pricing between high street and online, following the decision on LVCR, means we can look to develop a genuine 'click and collect' proposition for our customers. So whilst there's plenty more we need to do - this research is encouraging."
Sticking with HMV, there's plenty of news from the retailer this week. As you may have noticed, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee is nearly upon us (just look at the number of different royal-related releases floating around on the schedules now) and HMV is weighing in with its own celebratory activity. It has launched a major online survey, which plays up its heritage dating back more than 100 years itself. The survey, run through a specially created app, is aiming to find the best British films (and albums) released during the Queen's 60 year reign. It has released a long list for both, containing 60, consumers (and those in the industry) can choose their five favourites from the list, or add their own suggestions. The survey is open until May 20, with the results announced in the run-up to the all-important early June jubilee. The survey, publicised by HMV's iconic Nipper being draped in a Union Jack, is being backed by an in-store promotion under the Best Of Britain banner (or rather flag), much of it with product under a two for £10 film. HMV's Gennaro Castaqldo said: "The beginning of Elizabeth II's reign, and the bright new future it represented, didn't just coincide with a flowering of British popular culture, it helped to provide the very spark that lit the touch-paper for an explosion in music and film talent.  Since then, the Queen has presided over the richest period of cultural achievement in our nation's history, so it's only right that her Diamond Jubilee - which ironically also encapsulates sixty years of the official charts, should also be a period when we reflect on the greatest British albums and films of the past six decades." We'll be putting the list up on our website shortly, with some contributions on the trade's thoughts… Please feel free to add your selections, email us at the usual address…
Meanwhile, the Q3 onslaught continues, as more and more companies unveil their slates and the biggest this week comes from eOne. July sees the release of the big dance sequel StreetDance 2. the follow up to one of the most successful British indie films ever, and a brace of TV series in the shape of a Western from the team behind the likes of The Walking Dead, Hell On Wheels, and the fourth season of Sanctuary. In August, eOne has Freelancers, a DTV title boasting impeccable credentials, including stars Robert De Niro and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, as well as the second season of the 140,000 plus selling The Walking Dead. The company moves into September with the recently released Oscar-nominated Glenn Close theatrical outing Albert Nobbs; the Nicolas Winding Refn produced Black's Game; An Angel's Share, the next from legendary British director Ken Loach; the next in the 220,000 selling franchise [Rec], Genesis; Hooligan, directed by the man who knows a thing or two about them, Donal McIntyre, and Bruce Willis thriller The Cold Light Of Day. The company's head of sales and marketing Matt Brightwell said: "eOne is going from strength to strength and is expecting double digit growth this year. We have a highly desirable and varied line up this Q3 including one of the most talked about TV Series The Walking Dead S2, the much-anticipated sequel to the UK dance phenomenon StreetDance 2, Oscar contender Albert Nobbs and  the only British film in any official capacity at the festival in Cannes, Ken Loach’s Angel’s Share. All titles will have noticeable packaging, outstanding sleeve artwork and will be supported by enticing and innovative marketing campaigns.” 

Some more Q3 business now, and some of the independent labels have been showing off their wares for the coming months too. Eureka's been one of those, highlighting titles for its own brand and the lauded Masters Of Cinema imprint, for which there are seven additions. First up is Eureka's own release of the 1984 Giorgio Moroder reworking of silent classic Metropolis, with the music producer bringing his own Euro-disco, synth-friendly sound to Fritz Lang's landmark film, it includes contributions from scores of familiar names and will join Eureka's version of the original black and white title. The Masters Of Cinema releases include a trio from Italian giant Pier Paolo Pasolini, taking in Hawks And Sparrows and Pigsty in July and Oedipus Rex in September. Pasolini also has a hand, alongside other feted helmers Godard, Rossellini and Gregoretti, in RoGoPaG. Also in August comes the eagerly awaited Blu-ray row for Coppola's teen classic Rumble Fish. The Q3 slate is completed in September with the release of Cecil B DeMille's Cleopatra and a dual format edition of The Testament Of Dr Mabuse. Eureka's Ron Benson said: " For millions around the world, it is this version of Metropolis - featuring music by Moroder himself and artistes such as Adam Ant, Pat Benatar, Freddie Mercury, Bonnie Tyler, and Jon Anderson  - which first comes to mind whenever mention is made of the Lang original or, indeed, the iconic imagery and power of silent cinema."
Over at the BFI, there are a busy few months ahead. Chief among its Q3 titles will be the seminal Ghost Stories BBC series, a pivotal programme for anyone who grew up in the 1970s. Only three have been available before, but the complete series is on its way, with two volumes in August, two in September and the final volume, as well as a complete box set, in October. Also from the BFI, the first in a new series looking at the Children's Film Foundation's output; more from its British Transport Films Collection; Wonderful London, looking at the capital in the 1920s; a dual format edition for Russian masterpieces Battle Potemkin and Drifters under The Soviet Influence Banner; Carlos Suaras' Cria Cuervos; Pathe Colour Stencil: The Fairy Films, a selection of groundbreaking shorts from cinema's earliest days complete with new soundtracks; John Cassavetes' A Woman Under The Influence getting its Blu-ray world premiere and a collection from the British 1960s counter-culture, The Lacey Rituals: The Films Of Bruce Lacey. Commenting on the Ghost Stories release, the BFI's Phil Roberts said: "These much-loved tales terrified BBC TV audiences at Christmas throughout the 1970s. We released three films in the early 2000s and hardly a week goes past when the BFI isn't contacted by fans asking if we are ever going to re-release them. There's a huge demand out there, and the films are a key influence on recent British ghost and horror films, including The Woman in Black, and have inspired many screenwriters and filmmakers including Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen, Sherlock)."
Before then, there's the matter of another batch of releases from the BFI's Flipside imprint, due on May 28. Due from the label are The Black Panther, a gritty thriller based on the crime spree committed by the eponymous real-life killer during the 1970s, a film that was the subject of a media witchhunt on its theatrical release, surfaced briefly on VHS before disappearing from view, and Nightbirds, from New York underground filmmaker Andy Milligan and shot in London. It also marks the next step in a close friendship between the BFI and Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn (one charted by us previously), which sees them presenting the film jointly. Phil Roberts again said: "Previously seen by no more than a handful of people in a print shorn of five minutes’ worth of footage, the film was shot on location in the Spitalfields area of east London in 1968 and never given a significant release anywhere in the world. Newly mastered from the original 16mm camera element under Winding Refn’s supervision, Nightbirds is finally being released alongside The Black Panther. Winding Refn leads a ever-growing list of celebrity Flipside fans that includes fellow directors Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) and Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun Of The Dead)."

Also unveiling some forthcoming titles this week was Asian film specialist Third Window Films, which has picked up a clutch of strong titles from the Far East for release. In August it presents the Blu-ray and DVD bow of notorious Love Exposure, a film that has assumed significance as one of the most important Japanese films of the previous decade, alongside the likes of Battle Royale, as well as releasing the director’s newie, Himizu. And later in the year, it has acquired the rights to release Tetsuo and Tetsuo 2, the cult classics originally released on VHS some 20 years ago by the nascent Manga label. Timed to coincide with the bow of director Shinya Tsukamoto's later outing Kotoko. The new film is likely to tour around the UK and the Tetsuo home entertainment release will be timed with that. The company's Adam Torel said: "I feel this is really a phenomenal film and with Tetsuo also being one of his best and his first I wanted to pick them up and tour them together across cinemas in the UK before Blu-ray releases in early October 2012. With Tetsuo 1 and 2 being such classics and myself being such a fan of them I wanted to make sure they were handled in the best way, so along with being toured with his latest masterpiece, they will be digitally remastered by Shinya Tsukamoto from their original negatives and will be packed together (Tetsuo 1 and 2) along with 'The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy', Tsukamoto's 45 minute prototype film to Tetsuo. There will also be a new exclusive interview with Tsukamoto discussing the films and their restoration process."   
Talking of forthcoming titles and those canny folk at Showbox have launched a new imprint showing off the best of British. The company knows a thing or two about working a franchise, look at its Cine Asia operation, and it's following a similar philosophy for its new British film label, Cine Britannia. It already has one or two titles in the market, such as Panic Button and next includes the Shaun Of The Dead style Scottish comedy horror Attack Of The Herbals (June 25) and Brit gangster abroad flick Dead In France. Beyond that, its slate includes the likes of Ray Winstone in The Hot Potato. The company's Steve Rivers said: "We’re particularly excited about this new label and everything it stands for. The response from the media and our customers has been extremely positive and is just what the British film industry needs. Plus, what perfect time to launch this patriotic brand during the Queen’s Jubilee.” 
We always like to trumpet titles that have done well; last week we were congratulating Metrodome on its performance with Grave Encounters, this week it's worth noting another strong seller from last week, Signature's Hirokin, shifted more than 11,000 units since release, no mean feat for a sci-fi tale with decent but not blockbuster talent involved. It was helped by some smart lenticular packaging among other elements. The company's Marc Goldberg said: "We put a lot of time into the artwork, the sleeve and the packaging and it seemed to resonate will with fans of the genre. We wanted to have a title that went across the board and we had full support on it." In a year that's seen as many, if not more, DTV misses as hits, Goldberg added: "The success of Hirokin and Grave Encounters last week shows that if the genre's right and the packaging's right it doesn't have to have A list stars."

Next from Signature is a title that we've already been banging on about here on The Raygun, the wonderfully titled Osombie, the some would say inevitable zombie terrorist flick, in which al-Qaida's top boy Osama bin Laden returns undead to wreak vengeance on the infidels. Due on May 14 (the same week that Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator arrives in cinemas, giving rise to drafting opportunities), the online PR campaign for the film, tagline: The Axis Of The Evil Dead, has broken this week. In keeping with a recent trend, Signature has put the first few minutes of the film online, with six minutes being available exclusively at Blogomatic 3000. Marc Goldberg said: "The film actually plays well, it's not going to get five star reviews, but there's a lot of action. We're really excited about the title, material has been sent everywhere and we seem to be getting a few bites."  Have a look at the first six minutes over here.
Also doing well this week, Anchor Bay's The Wicker Tree. The film, effectively a sequel to the legendary British horror flick The Wicker Man (one that's likely to get our vote in the aforementioned HMV survey). The release benefited from a smart launch strategy from the company, which included the film's being paired together for a special screening at London's Prince Charles Cinema, one hosted by one of the original FrightFest organisers (and Raygun reader) Paul McEvoy, who led a Q&A with director Robin Hardy. Anchor Bay's Thom Leaman said: "Both films looked great. Despite some of the naysaying responses to the film in the press, this was the best light to present The Wicker tree in - Robin was able to contextualise The Wicker Tree within the wider world he has created with The Wicker Man, and which he intends to continue with a third film... Robin was on sterling form generally, and treated the capacity crowd to some brilliant anecdotes including one about Britt Ekland's stunt bum."
Our last bit of news from HMV this week, and the big day is approaching for the retailer: its five a side soccer challenge fuindraiser is due to take place on May 11, that's a week Friday, and there'll be plenty of home entertainment teams showing off their silky skills (or not, as the case may be), including Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Paramount, Universal, Momentum, Fremantle, Warner and more. There were still one or two places left, contact Gennaro at HMV for more details. And if anyone needs a ringer…
Oh, and if you're bored or hungover on Friday, why not head over to our website, where we'll have more on Universal's 100th anniversary, including its augmented reality day at HMV, as well as a look at the BFI's The Black Panther and more…

"In my judgment, the operators of [The Pirate Bay] do authorise its users' infringing acts of copying and communication to the public. They go far beyond merely enabling or assisting. I conclude that both users and the operators of [The Pirate Bay] infringe the copyrights of the claimants … in the UK."
Mr Justice Arnold riles that leading UK Internet service providers, including Sky and Virgin Media, must block The Pirate Bay. It will start within weeks…
We'll have more film news tomorrow on our awards special newsletter, but a quick report on the weekend's box office report. And it's no surprise that The Avengers, or Marvel's Avengers Assemble, dominates at UK cinemas, with a mammoth haul of £15.78 million in its opening weekend, higher than all the previous Marvel outings and, claims Disney, the biggest superhero opening ever. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen acted as good counter-programming, sticking at number two and now having taken more than £3 million.
We're certain to be doing some tweeting at the BVA Awards, follow us on
We'd offer you a breakdown of this trailer, but hey, the rest of the Internet's already done that. Oh, and we also haven't watched it yet, we're trying to keep some of it a surprise…
Also on the Internet this week: Prometheus versus The Dark Knight Rises discussions…
Right, back on terra firma, here's the first look at Revolver's eagerly awaited Plan B helmed London tale…
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