NEWSLETTER :: September 16 2010
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It Was A Good Week For... 4DVD, following the successful launch of This Is England 86 on TV last week ahead of its release, The Inbetweeners pulled in record figures for E4, as series three bowed ahead of its home entertainment debut. And for the games industry, as the latest Halo give it a lift…

It Was A Bad Week for… Internet service providers who will be asked to pay a quarter of the costs of sending out warning letters to illegal filesharers under the terms of the Digital Economy Act according to government plans announced this week…

Normally on The Raygun, we might start off with some kind of record-breaking box office figure, but this week instead we're starting with some amazing TV news. The Inbetweeners began its new series this week (as we previewed in last week's newsletter) and boy, did it perform. The third series launched to a whopping 2.54 million viewers on E4 on Monday, the highest rated show ever on the channel, beating BBC2, ITV1 and Channel 4 in the 10pm time slot. It was the biggest ever audience for the show too, beating any of its outings, even on Channel 4. Compare it too with previous figures for the programme – series one bowed to 296,000 on E4, the last one was seen by 1.21 million, meaning this had doubled the audience. 4DVD's Karla Berry said: " This is an amazing result and great news for the upcoming DVD release. This is an increase of over 1 million viewers from the last series which means we’ve potentially gained an extra 1 million new fans to target for the launch of the Series 3 DVD in October."

Last weekend's box office saw a solid opening for the much-publicised and well-reviewed Tamara Drewe from Momentum, an edgier take on the Working Title template (see below for more). The film itself certainly left us pleasantly surprised (it has a nasty streak too often missing from saccharine genre fare and has a keenly honed and vicious sense of humour too) and it should set the seal on another strong run of product from Momentum into 2010, especially as many pundits believe the strong word of mouth will help it have a longer run than many at cinemas. The company has just enjoyed two consecutive weeks at number one with Dear John, which in itself came on the back of the stunning performance of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (which is now at 225,124 units and counting). The Girl… franchise is, as we predicted a few weeks ago here, bucking the trend of sequels and growing from film to film – the new outing, The Girl Who Played With Fire, is at more than £1 million at UK cinemas, meaning it is likely to outperform its predecessor. Again, this bodes well for Momentum, which is eagerly looking forward to 2011 and the release of The Girl Who Played With Fire and Tamara Drewe. Momentum's Kristin Ryan said: "The Girl… series is fast becoming one of the success stories of the year with The Girl Who Played With Fire passing the £1m mark at the box office and a staggering  200,000 plus units of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo sold on DVD. With the release of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest in November the franchise is just going from strength to strength." Momentum's Louisa Mitchell added: "Momentum's DVD growth has exceeded all expectations and with an incredible line up planned for next year this expansion is set to continue. As well as Tamara Drewe and the remaining two films in the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, highlights for the first half of the year include The King's Speech starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush which has been widely tipped for Oscar success, Mike Leigh's Another Year, considered by critics to be his best work to date, alien invasion fantasy Skyline from The Brothers Strause and The Fighter featuring a career-defining performance from Christian Bale.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Momentum is also readying itself for a brace of wildly differing wartime releases. One, This Is War, is a gritty look at the Iraq war and goes deep into action in the region, recounting what it's really like to be involved in modern warfare, while the other, Beneath Hill 60, tells a little known story about the First World War. As most should know, war continues to be a rich source of both content and sales. With titles as diverse as Lionsgate's The Hurt Locker and Metrodome's Saints And Soldiers continuing to do the business, then it's no surprise to see titles as strong as Momentum's brace coming to market with impressive marketing support. This Is War, out October 4, will be supported by an extensive PR campaign and adverts in the gaming press. As Momentum's Adam Eldrett explained: "We are flying Mike over just before the release due to the overwhelming interest in him. I expect Mike to feature on several news and current affairs shows while he is in the UK giving our release of This Is War some great pre-awareness. With the genre performing so well on DVD at present we are not ignoring a younger DVD buying consumer and will be advertising the film across some gaming publications. Our sleeve really puts the film in 'Call of Duty' territory and I believe we can capitalise on this in store and within our media campaign." More on Beneath Hill 60 next week.

Also from Momentum, the company has upped Louisa Mitchell to the role of marketing director and Kristin Ryan has been made marketing manager. Congratulations to both…

So if war is all the rage in the home entertainment sector, then its success over the past decade or so can probably be traced back to Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and co, first with Saving Private Ryan and then the HBO mini-series Band Of Brothers (which also helped kickstart the box set, complete series TV on DVD phenomenon, but that's another story). So it's somewhat fitting to see it come full circle with the November 1 release of HBO's latest primetime extravaganza, The Pacific. The $200 million epic is from the same team that created Band Of Brothers, including Hanks and Spielberg, and comes with the same critical applause ringing in its ears. Band Of Brothers is, of course, the biggest selling TV box set of all time. HBO is releasing on both DVD and Blu-ray, each six disc set will come housed in a tin and contain a raft of extras, taking commentaries, Making Of documentaries and, in the case of the BD, enhanced viewing capabilities and an interactive field guide to the major events in the war. HBO's Ian Fullerton said: "At HBO we’re gearing up for our biggest fourth quarter ever, and leading the pack is The Pacific, the companion mini-series to the phenomenally successful Band Of Brothers. Both the DVD and BD SKUs of The Pacific will be released in a beautiful six-disc tin box set which we feel will not only get the war fan salivating but will make a great Christmas gift too." HBO said it will be treating the title as a studio would a blockbuster film release, more on this in the coming weeks.
We'll be looking at war on our website next week, as well as interviewing the likes of Steve Austin (formerly Stone Cold), but this week, we've got loads of exciting stuff up, including the latest contributions to our hugely popular My Inspiration feature. Who is it this week? See here
Talking of TV on DVD, The Raygun was present at a world first event last week – an iPad premiere. The debut airing of Nikita, one of the year's hottest television shows according to those in the know, was held at Village Underground, an amazing looking club space in East London. It was making its bow in the US at the same time, ahead of a launch in the UK on Living in October and a later home entertainment bow courtesy of Warner. Interestingly, Nikita, based on the old film, directed by Brit Danny Cannon and featuring Asian star Maggie Q in the titular role, was made available in the UK via iTunes last week, the day after its US debut, a first in the TV sector. The premiere saw The Raygun and assorted journalists sitting in comfy chairs, iPads on laps, with headphones watching the new series. It was followed by a Skype Q&A hosted by Danny Wallace, present at the venue, and one of Nikita's stars, Xander Berkeley, in Toronto. Ladies and gentlemen, the future has arrived…    

And mention of downloads leads us to one independent label, Mr Bongo Films, which is ahead of many in moving towards offering consumers a choice between physical and downloading titles, after offering its release this week, the excellent Cuban boxing documentary Sons Of Cuba, for download in the week of release. Its download technology was offered up by the Friends For Music platform. See its offering – and the trailer – here.

Amazing coverage in this week's newspapers for the forthcoming Jane Fonda DVD. It was remarkable not least because the announcement came from the US and there was no formal word from the UK yet, but it still managed to garner acres of coverage from the national press and TV, taking in the Sun and Mail, with further interest from The Times and the new morning Daybreak programme (see here for an example). Which means that come the official release date, December 27, there should be massive interest and awareness in the release. The Raygun is pleased to announce that the release, Jane Fonda: Prime Time, is coming out in the UK via Lionsgate. Lionsgate's Kaz Mills said: "We were delighted with the press reaction about the amazing return of Jane Fonda. And we are really looking forward to a massive campaign in December to provide her fans with brand new workouts they can do at home. She is living proof that the key to ageing gracefully is staying active, so to provide a product for the older market, who are so often overlooked, is a wonderful opportunity for us."

We've already mentioned some of the week's theatrical releases, but it's worth noting that Scanbox's limited theatrical release of My Son My Son What Have Ye Done boasted the weekend's second highest screen average behind the re-release of Avatar (buoyed by the higher ticket prices), but ahead of the weekend's number one film, the latest in the Resident Evil franchise, and is set to continue its run in London's West End. The DVD is out in October from Scanbox. The company's Ken Law said: " It just proves that the smaller indie labels can take films out theatrically, they can get the valuable press coverage to help DVD sales and, if they’re canny, they can even make some money.”
One title not getting a theatrical release, but instead investing heavily in TV advertising and the likes, is eOne's The Devil's Playground. We've already covered some of the website activity on previous newsletters, but the title will also be benefiting from TV advertising and some impressive viral elements. As product manager Tom Jarvis said: "The team that bought you Dead Snow is back with UK zombie flick Devil’s Playground which promises to become one of the hottest zombie movies this year. The high production values and what has been seen as Danny Dyer’s strongest performance to date gives this DTV a theatrical feel. With a creative viral marketing campaign breaking some eight weeks prior to release and Danny Dyer’s personal support this promises to deliver another smash hit for eOne this Q4.
This week has also seen a slew of announcements of Q4 releases, as the line-up begins to really take shape. So confirmed and locked in over the past seven days have been Lionsgate's The Expendables (December 13), Warner's Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore (November 29) and Universal's Get Him To The Greek (November 1)…

Talking of Q4, Disney has inked a major deal with Sony Electronics that will see the pair working together on marketing and promotional activity as well as consumer education in the run up to Christmas for 3D kit and product. It will include bundling of Disney's forthcoming 3D Blu-ray bow of Alice In Wonderland with Sony's 3D Bravia TVs. Consumers will be able to choose from Alice or Bolt in the same format, and there are other incentives, with the campaign taking in TV, online, social media and print. Disney's Anthony Peet said: "We are thrilled to partner with Sony on 3D offerings and to offer consumers their first chance to experience one of 2010’s top 3D films and the amazing spectacle of Wonderland in their very own homes. We recognise Sony is a leader in 3D hardware and we know movie lovers will enjoy the immersive content that is a part of all Disney’s 3D titles."

The BFI is launching an ambitious new nationwide project which will take in the BFI Southbank, a nationwide cinema tour, a new book and its DVD arm to look at British documentaries made just after the war. The Boom Britain series looks at how Britain emerged from the wartime austerity era into a world of never having it so good and is hugely ambitious. The DVD side will see a four disc box set, Shadows Of Progress: Documentary Film In Post-War Britain 1951-2977 coming out on November 15. It is a companion piece to the hugely successful and highly acclaimed Land Of Promise set, which looked at documentary films in the UK from 1930 to 1950, which is being re-released on the same day. As ever with the BFI, it is not doing anything by halves – the four disc set comes with additional extras, including new interviews with some of the directors involved, and an accompanying 100 page book. The BFI's Sam Dunn said: "The story of post-war documentary films and filmmaking has never been told, and this incredibly ambitious project is the culmination of over 3 years' worth of hard work for a huge number of people at the BFI (curators, archivists, producers, etc.). As well as including interviews and recollections from the filmmakers involved, our deluxe four-disc set features contributions from such figures as Lord Puttnam and celebrated post-war historian Dominic Sandbrook."

Staying with the BFI, the organisation is tying in with the resurgence of interest in legendary French director Jacques Tati buoyed by the recent theatrical and imminent DVD release of The Illusionist, the animated tale from Belleville Rendez-Vous director Sylvain Chomet by releasing its two Tati tales, M Hulot's Holiday and Playtime, in its dual format Blu-ray and DVD editions. The film is based on an original, unfilmed Tati screenplay. The BFI's James Blackford said: "The recent success of The Illusionist has made the magic of Jacques Tati's films visible to a whole new audience, perhaps previously unfamiliar with his amazing legacy of classic French comedy. These high-definition re-releases of Playtime and M Hulot's Holiday afford viewers the opportunity to see his finest film presented in definitive editions with a wealth of additional material."

Also hard at work at the minute – the Arrow Video imprint is putting the finishing touches to another of its mightily impressive releases, this time for Dario Argento's Deep Red due on October 18. It will include new interviews, including one with Argento himself, a brand new comic and five different sleeves to choose from, all coming in a "beautiful black case". The label is devoted to releasing classic horror titles, for more on its ideals, see here.
Arrow's Alex Agran said: "This is a gem of a film that has been woefully undersold in recent years and is now getting the full Arrow Video works." 

  It's been a busy week for Metrodome, with a couple of key announcements from the company. First it was announced that head of acquisitions and production James Brown is leaving his job, although remaining as a consultant, to join production and finance company Neon Park. The outfit has a first-look deal with Metrodome for its films, and has recently completed the first in its war trilogy Age Of Heroes, starring the likes of Sean Bean and Danny Dyer. Then, as The Raygun went to press, it announced plans to launch an all-rights film sales agency in 2011, it is currently recruiting an md and head of acquisitions.   

Brilliant idea from HMV, which has been holding a battle of the bands style competition for its staff. Any HMV staffer, from head office, warehouse or store level, who is in a band or are a solo act can apply for the country-wide competition, launched earlier this year. After a lengthy heat process, the final was held last weekend in front of 200-plus punters at the HMV Forum in London's Kentish Town. And the winner of the inaugural No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith (named after the Motorhead album) event? Step forward Hey! Alaska, which includes Stockton On Tees sales assistant Ritch Allaway. Judges included HMV supremo Simon Fox. Fox said: "This has been a great event, and the standard across so many of the entries has been incredibly high. We set out to provide a motivational platform for all the creativity, energy and passion that we know exists within HMV - especially now that live music is such an important part of what we do, and I certainly think we've done that.  'No sleep' has created a real buzz among our stores - underlining once again, if proof were needed, just how much music is in our dna."
Industry-wise, and the BVA is readying itself for its 30th anniversary annual general meeting and reception due to take place on November 2. This week it unveiled its sponsors for the event – Eyeframe and MPO, with media partner DVD Intelligence and signage from Bezier. Creative industries minister Ed Vaizey will be asked to underline the government's commitment to the spirit of the Digital Economy Act. BVA director general Lavinia Carey said: "To help ensure the future of video as the engine room of the audiovisual industry, we need to know that we can depend on the Government and its agencies to see this through to the end and meet the goals of the Digital Economy Act. Eyeframe sales and marketing director James Greenwall added: "We are delighted to be sponsoring the BVA AGM for the second year running, especially as this year we will be sharing the sponsorship duties with MPO with whom we work closely."
Over to Canada, where a smattering of UK delegates were out for the annual Toronto International Film Festival. The hottest films were, according to our sources, Super, Beautiful 13 Assassins, Norwegian Wood, Submarine and Insiduous. Deals are still being tied up, although this is now becoming an increasingly important date in acquisitions executives' diaries. Meanwhile, bigger news from Toronto comes from the Lamport Stadium, a genuine sports venue complete with electronic scoreboard, which played host to the first ever Europe v The Rest Of The World football game between UK distributors and sales agents. Among those taking part were executives such as Kaleidoscope's Spencer Pollard, The Works' Laurence Gornall, Alex Hamilton from E1 and others from the likes of Icon, as well as a couple of ringers, including a former Bristol Rovers pro. As our correspondent noted: "In a game of two halves, a 3-3 draw was the final result, with football being the real winner.  Allegedly Kaleidoscope's goal hanging centre forward scored all three goals for Europe though we're awaiting final confirmation of this legendary feat…"
And we'll end, as we began, with some television viewing figures: keep an eye on BBC's Merlin, which began its latest series last Saturday evening. It's viewing figures of more than 5 million were up on the second series by half a million viewers, and beaten on Saturday night only by The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. Fremantle will be releasing the first volume of the third series on November 15.


Acorn Media has smartly picked up the rights to a trilogy of classics from the pen of Dennis Potter, a giant of British screen. Although Potter's uncompromising work doesn't necessarily tally with much of the rest of Acorn's catalogue, the company has proved itself equally at home releasing this kind of work as its other television titles, as the recent release of the first two, Karaoke and Cold Lazarus, proved. The third, Lipstick On Your Collar, considered the third of a trilogy that included Pennies From Heaven and The Singing Detective and offering an early starring role for Ewan McGregor, is out on October 4. It will be backed by a PR push (the first pair received considerable coverage) and advertising in the national press, TV listings and women's magazines, taking in the likes of The Mail On Sunday, TV Times, The Times, Guardian, TV & Satellite Week and TV Choice. Acorn chief executive Paul Holland said: "We're delighted by how these releases are being received both by the media and buyers. Dennis Potter was a definitive writer of TV drama and we are particularly happy to include these works in our catalogue of great British TV on DVD."


Somewhat surprisingly, Resident Evil: Afterlife sat atop both the UK and US box office charts this week, taking £1.69 million in the former and $26.7 million in the latter. Momentum's Tamara Drewe took £615,553, while both Going The Distance and Cyrus bowed to £400,000 opening takes.

Wu Tang Clan founder the RZA is putting together his first film, and, no surprise given the kung fu loving rapper and producer's track record, it's a martial arts film, The Man With the Iron Fist. What is surprising, is that the film, co-written by the RZA and Eli Roth, is going to star none other than Russell Crowe. The RZA, a true renaissance man, met the actor while the pair worked on American Gangster. He said that Crowe will be playing "the baddest man alive". Filming stars later this year.

Anyone seen Deadliest Warrior on Bravo? We have. It's truly unbelievable, as so-called experts decide who's hardest among various fighting tribes or peoples throughout history by assessing their weaponry and modus operandi, before reconstructing a battle between the two. As Charlie Brooker noted in his review last year: "It's one of those pieces of television that defies logic, taste and decency to such an immense degree it actually ceases to be offensive and teeters on the brink of inadvertent artistic genius instead. Who'd have thought the spectacle of western civilisation actively collapsing into madness would be this funny?" So with that recommendation everyone – not just fans of the programme – should welcome the news this week that a full length feature is going to be made of Deadliest Warrior, after Paramount inked a deal in the US. If you can't wait, read more about it here

Something a bit different, due to air at the London Film Festival, this looks brilliant:

Clint goes all kind of spooky…

Incredible word of mouth on this one…

The new trailer for the Paranormal Activity sequel…

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