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It Was A Good Week For... Congratulations to all those shortlisted for this year's BASE Awards…
It Was A Bad Week For… Netflix and others being blackmailed by hacker The Darklord, who said he has the next series of Orange Is The New Black – and others – after stealing the files and will illegally upload them online unless he's paid off…
Wednesday morning and the industry was huddled around desks, craning to see the all-important nominations and shortlists for this year’s BASE Awards. The trade organisation unveiled the names that had impressed thus far in the morning, and offices around the West End and beyond gathered to see if their staff’s late night efforts to prepare their entries had been rewarded with an all important nomination… There were cheers and, we’re sure, a few tears too, as the shortlist for each of 19 categories was announced (a further two, Distributor and Title Of The Year will be revealed on the night, although these are sales based). Leading the field – by some considerable distance too, it must be noted – is Universal, which earned a whopping 11 nods on the shortlist, including one in almost all of the campaign of the year categories. This meant children’s (Shopkins), specialist (Romesh Ranganthan), TV (the latest Mrs Brown’s Boys), non-theatrical (House Of Flying Arrows), films up to £1 million box office (I Am Bolt) and films between £1 million and £4.99 million (The Witch), £5 million to £14.99 million (Warcraft) and over £15 million (The Secret Life Of Pets), with others in Outstanding Innovation (Making DVD Special Again and catalogue: multiple product for its Christmas Classics activity. Its 11th is shared with Paramount for their joint PR work on Star Trek Beyond.  Commenting on its success, Universal md Ian Foster said: “We are overjoyed to have 11 initiatives shortlisted for this year’s BASE Awards, and to be recognised across such a breadth of titles and campaigns. We are looking forward to celebrating 2016’s amazing slate of releases and the strength of the category with our partners and industry colleagues on June 8.”
We’ll have a full listing on our website shortly, with more detail, but here’s a quick summary of the big winners – Sony has four, including one richly deserved one for Lady In The Van, while Lionsgate leads the independents also with four, including one for USS Indianapolis, one of the most successful DTV titles of recent months. Other studios represented include Disney with four, Studiicanal, Warner and eOne with three, Fox with a brace and Arrow with two. Over on the retail side Sainsbury’s leads the charge with five, including a trio in the Physical Retailer Initiative Of The Year, where Tesco also has two nods (it has four in total). HMV has three, including two for its Hollywood Classics initiative, with iTunes and Sky sharing three each, Amazon has two, while there are single nominations for, among others, the BFI, BBC Worldwide, Zoom and Zavvi. One interesting category is the newly-created Outstanding Innovation Award, with the nominees including Sony for its Affinity Ranging Solution. Disney for its Big Sleeve Editions, Universal, as mentioned above, for its Making DVD Special work and the Official Charts Company for its digital chart efforts.  “ We’ll have more comment from some of those on the shortlist in the coning weeks ahead of the big day, but here's Studiocanal’s Kristin Ryan on the company’s nominations: "We're incredibly excited to have three projects shortlisted at this years' BASE Awards. To have such varied product represented in these very competitive categories is indicative of the whole team's dedication and hard work. We look forward to a fun and suitably celebratory evening on June 8."
Further comment on the shortlist came from BASE chief executive Liz Bales, who said: “We are extremely proud to share with you the shortlist for the 2017 BASE Awards! The strength of entries never fails to delight and impress our judges, and with the addition of the Outstanding Innovation Award we are even further able to illustrate the depths and variety of creative innovation that is driving the category forward. I want to thank BASE members and industry stakeholders for their continued support of the awards. As well as all of our judges for their valuable contribution and ongoing support in the lead up to the awards. It’s not easy to whittle the entries down but each year their skill and efficiency is incredible.” The BASE Awards will be taking place at their new home, in Tobacco Dock, over in Wapping, east London, on June 8. Contact   for more.  

What then, of this week’s biggies and successfully marketed titles? Well, the best new release performer of the week is one we at The Raygun – and much of the rest of the nation to be fair – has been banging on about for some time. Buoyed by the acres of coverage and chat surrounding the series, as well as some impressive PR which saw stars such as Jodie Whittaker and Mark Bazeley (the latter appeared as mechanic Jim Atwood) touring radio stations specifically to support the release, Broadchurch arrived on DVD and Blu-ray this week and sped out of the blocks. With Whittaker appearing on Shaun Keaveney’s 6Music breakfast show, and Bazeley giving interviews to a number of regional stations, both as part of an extensive PR campaign that saw another of its stars, Charlie Higson, also being interviewed for nation print magazine, the title got another major boost in terms of coverage  And it paid off too, for the third series of the hugely popular ITV drama, released on Monday April 23, arrived at number six, the highest new entry in the Official Charts Company’s midweek bulletin. Commenting on its week one success, Acorn’s Acorn’s Joint head of marketing Gareth Brown said: “The whole Broadchurch experience has been an amazing ride, and Debbie Murray and the team at Aim Publicity generated some great post-tx publicity for us. As of today we hold five out of the Top Ten titles in OCC’s TV Chart with Broadchurch SKUs at positions three, six and nine, and the red-hot follow-up title for us, Line Of Duty at Number One with the 1-3 Box Set and Number Eight with the Series Three release.  As a company specialising in TV on DV, this is a week to be proud of.”
Another strong performer in its first week in the charts comes courtesy of Signature, with the release of The Void. The breakout horror has seen its buzz building ever since it made its UK debut at the London Film Festival in the autumn of 2016. And this week the company’s faith has paid off with a top 10 chart entry in the Official Charts Company’s midweek bulletin. Commenting in its success, the company’s national account manager James Javes said: “We are delighted with the results for The Void so far this week, which is set to be our most successful horror film of the year so far, as well as the highest new film entry in the charts this week.”
As for the rest of the midweeks, it’s been another Rogue One week, as the latest Star Wars outing has now shifted almost 800,000 in its first fortnight on sale, with this week’s performance seeing it 16,000 units ahead of another Disney title, Moana, in the Official Charts Company’s bulletin issued at the halfway stage ahead of Sunday night’s full chart listing. Other new entries include The Patriot at number 24, Jurassic Prey at number 32, another big success for Arrow Video, at 34, in the shape of its collection of Phantasm films, and Deadline Gallipolli at number 40. 

To the Westbury hotel in the heart of London’s swish Mayfair, to hear the annual keynote speech from FDA chairman Lord Puttnam, with the great man on fine form, giving a state of the nation address on the British film industry from his and the distributors’ perspective. Always fascinating and provocative, Heck, in celebrating British films, especially comedies borne out of TV sitcoms, he even offered up a selection of clips from such fine exponents of the genre as Steptoe and Son and On The Buses. But it was his demolition of the 17 week window between theatrical and home entertainment that hit home the hardest. He outlined the fast-changing nature of the business (“the landscape is changing, the broader screen industry is changing with rapidity”) And although admissions were “stubbornly static” at around the 165 to 170 million visit mark, “what is escalating is the colossal supply of releases”; from 450 in 2004 to some 900 last year. And that crowded market is becoming ever more polarised, Puttnam noted that the top 20 films accounted for half of the total box office revenues. “The one size fits all window of theatrical exclusivity, lasting around 17 weeks imposed by each of the mainstream exhibitors operates as a form of digital rights freeze. In effect it removes our product from the shelves, helping bring about the very piracy window that cinema operators most fear. How ironic is that?” He continued: “Try and think of any other sector that launches a brand new product, has enormous confidence, it begins to become successful and is then withdrawn from the shelves and brought back 10, 12 to 16 weeks later and you’re surprised that maybe the public has either looked elsewhere for it if it’s successful or lost interest in it. It’s unthinkable in any other sector. And yet somehow we’ve managed to absorb this as the norm. That must stop. Britain’s now lagging behind other territories where a little more flexibility has not reduced box office one iota. Our overly rigid theatrical windows are a ludicrously outmoded analogue practice with no place in the 21st century.” 
As well as railing against the theatrical to home entertainment windows, as he had done in previous years, outlining problems with the current system, he praised AMC for its openness to reducing the window, where in the US there are discussions about a 30 to 45 day window. Much of what Lord Puttnam had to say looked at Brexit too. A fierce proponent of the EU, the producer turned politician outlined some of what he thought the next government should be doing. “With film consumption strong but heavily polarised towards the top blockbusters, I hope the oncoming government, in the event of withdrawal, will think carefully about how to replace and build upon the advantages offered by the current Creative Europe schemes. Plurality of choice for UK audiences should remain at the heart of our pollcy ambitions. Also in the interests of plurality, we must redouble our consistent calls for territorial licensing flexibility to be hardwired into every directive and regulation affecting the Digital Single Market.” Another key point looked at the worrying trend of children not going to the cinema as much as previous generations, which he said needed addressing. More, including an embed of the full keynote, will be on our website shortly…

Lord Puttnam was speaking on World IP Day, and there was a flurry of activity on this side of the business too. Chief among the assortment of goings-on was some heartening news from Europe – yes, the courts in the mainland EU have ruled in favour of the industry in the ongoing efforts against the scourge of streaming, particularly dodgy retailers selling fully loaded Kodi boxes (see previous newsletters for more). A Dutch retailer had been selling kit that, according to those protecting copyright holders from such infringements in the Netherlands, contravened laws. The case finally went all the way to the European Court of Justice and its judgement came down on the side of the industry against anyway selling fully loaded boxes. The sale could, it said, infringe copyright and was essentially as bad as illegally downloading. It stated: “The sale of a multimedia player which enables films that are available illegally on the internet to be viewed easily and for free on a television screen could constitute an infringement of copyright.” It further added: “The Court also finds that temporary acts of reproduction, on that multimedia player, of a copyright protected work obtained by streaming on a website belonging to a third party offering that work without the consent of the copyright holder, cannot be exempted from the right of reproduction. In the present case and having regard, in particular, to the content of the advertising of the multimedia player and to the fact that the main attraction of that player for potential purchasers is the pre-installation of the add-ons concerned, the Court finds that the purchaser of such a player accesses a free and unauthorised offer of protected works deliberately and in full knowledge of the circumstances. Furthermore, acts of temporary reproduction, on the multimedia player in question, of copyright protected works adversely affects the normal exploitation of those works and causes unreasonable prejudice to the legitimate interests of the copyright holders because it usually results in a diminution of the lawful transactions relating to those protected works.”
More comment on the issue came from FACT whose chief executive Kieron Sharp said: “The recent decision by the EU Court of Justice is another step forward in the right direction for the creative industries. It should send a strong and clear message to the public that this is not a grey area and that anyone using a device to illegally access film, TV, or sports, is breaking the law. Over the next six months there are several cases going to court regarding the selling of illegal streaming devices and now following this ruling, consideration can be given to investigating those buying and using such devices. We will continue to work with The Premier League, Sky, BT Sport, Virgin Media and the film industry to crackdown on these illegal devices and whilst end users are not our primary target, they may get swept up in one of our operations and become part of the whole criminal investigation, which could lead to prosecution alongside the suppliers, retailers and importers.”
And if you don’t believe the impact of the devices, then a quick glance at some new research carried out by pollsters at YouGov – good to see them not getting bogged down by the General Election. It suggested that 10 per cent of the adult population – 4.9 million adults – have access to illegal, fully loaded Kodi boxes, chipped Amazon Fire sticks and other illegal streaming apps that enable them to via illegally uploaded content, be it films or TV. Some 17 per cent of those, have already cancelled their subscription services. And a third who stream pirate content and currently have paid-for services will cancel their subs in the next 12 months. Some 2.6 million consumers are expected to start illegally streaming in the next three months, half of those will probably cancel a service within a year. Millennials are the worst offenders – 1.8 million of those with access to pirate platforms are in the 18 to 34 year old age group. As the study noted: “There is a real danger that having got used to getting TV services for free it will hard to convince them to pay in the future.”
That same YouGov study also looks at the thinking and motivations behind piracy and illegal streaming. And the results from a series of focus groups makes for fascinating albeit grim reading. It stated: “They revealed that one felt that by using a pirate streaming platform they were not harming the industry as it already makes a lot of money. They stated that “ultimately the movie industry is booming…it is insignificant what they lose from streaming. Meanwhile the price of subscriptions meant that some feel as though they aren’t getting value for money from pay TV. One person thinking of abandoning their subscriptions in favour of using a pirated streaming platform had “mixed feelings” about the move as it would be “likely to increase prices for others.” However, they felt that sports streams are “ripping of the consumer and can see why people feel justified” in avoiding pay TV services.”

Acquisition news and big news from Studiocanal this week has seen the company further signal its intentions towards the TV sector, after recently signing on the dotted line to bring Taboo to the sector, it has now inked a deal to bring to DVD and Blu-ray what is set to be one of 2017’s most talked about shows. That show is American Gods, the Neil Gaiman adaptation that is heading to Amazon Prime Video on May 1 in a blaze of publicity, before making its way to home entertainment later in the year. The deal for the much talked about series was done between Studiocanal and Fremantle and takes in France and Germany as well as the UK. Studocanal’s head of home entertainment in the UK John Rodden said: “We're hugely excited to be releasing American Gods in the UK, France and Germany. ‎The combination of the unique creative vision of Neil Gaiman with the extraordinary imagination of Bryan Fuller and Michael Green was impossible to resist. We think the series will delight and amaze fans of these visionary artists and become must-see event television for a wide audience of new believers.” He continued: “We previously released Bryan Fuller’s ground-breaking TV Series Hannibal, so it’s fantastic to continue this relationship on American Gods which is without question one of the most original, provocative and essential TV series in many years.” Fremantle’s svp for home entertainment and archive sales Pete Kalhan added: “American Gods has already received much praise with incredible reviews rolling in from critics the world over which is testament to the quality of this amazing series.  Studiocanal presented such passion for the series and have a fantastic knowledge of the show’s origins. We’re looking forward to partnering with them for American Gods.”
To our local Cineworld, where Lady Macbeth, the new release from Altitude Films was screening with a beamback of a live Q&A following a a simultaneous screening of the film at the prestigious location of the V&A Museum. It was one of the final dates on a nationwide tour of cinemas with cast and crew of the hugely impressive period drama with a twist, as star Florence Pugh and director William Oldroyd among others introduced and then discussed the film following its airing. The film officially opened at cinemas on Friday (April 28) on the back of a welter of five star reviews (all deserved in our opinion), which should help build a head of steam for Altitude’s home entertainment release later in the summer. It will arrive after Oscar winner Moonlight (June 19), with Lady Macbeth further highlighting the independent’s skills in picking up critically adored, commercial indie films and bringing them to market with verve. Commenting in the release, the company’s James Warren said: “We’re hugely proud to be releasing Lady Macbeth this weekend on a sea of entirely well-deserved acclaim. Both Florence Pugh and William Oldroyd, who have turned in career defining work in the film, have worked tirelessly to support the film to help us deliver a truly comprehensive campaign. We were proud to partner with the V&A as part of their Performance Festival which saw a perfect match of film and screening venue (and a fantastic Q&A led by The Guardian's Hadley Freeman) which will also be available as special extra content when we release on home entertainment platforms in the summer."

The BFI is mining a rich seam of classic 1980s British provincial filmmaking for some of its current releases, with Rita, Sue And Bob Too due in May and last week saw the organisation launching its all-singing, all-dancing first ever Blu-ray release of Letter To Brezhnev, with a brace of special screenings of the classic Scouse tale Letter To Brezhnev, which managed to mine the Thatcher years for some black comedy. Some 32 years after the film first aired in the city, the BFI hosted two sold-out screenings at Liverpool’s Picturehouse. Commenting on the event, the BFI’s Phil Roberts said: “The film means a lot to the people of Liverpool and our new DVD/Blu-ray finally gives Letter to Brezhnev a premium home entertainment presentation. The event could not have gone better and we generated amazing press coverage including BBC Breakfast TV, Radio 4’s Today, ITV Granada Reports, BBC North West and the Liverpool Echo. We're expect strong sales following the product’s release on Monday.’
Some interesting news from Amazon which has worked out that, according to what its customers in the UK are ordering, summer officially begins on June 4. So it is launching a #nowitssummerstore on to cater for summer related products. And, naturally, this includes home entertainment offerings, from themed music playlists and films to download for weather good and bad and other assorted Prime goodies. UK country manager Doug Gurr said: “The weather reactive #NowItsSummer store has products, TV shows, music playlists and books that dynamically relate to the weather conditions. Whether the sun inspires you to get summer garden party essentials or you need a fresh playlist for a run, or you suddenly need a new pair of wellies or films to download on your tablet for a worrying festival weather outlook, the #NowItsSummer store will offer everything you need to save the day.” "We've created great Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music playlists, movie and TV show collections and Kindle reading lists for both sunny and rainy days, so our customers can easily enjoy the best entertainment whatever the weather this summer," added Paul Firth, head of Amazon Music UK.
Congratulations to Kaleidoscope chief executive Spencer Pollard who pounded the pavements of London last weekend on the London marathon, completing the course and raising money for charity at the same time. After he’d rested his tired feet, Pollard told The Raygun: “It was my first ever marathon and despite some niggly injuries during the early part of this year, I survived and managed to complete the course in under four and a half hours. I’m raising money for Variety Club, a great charity that helps sick, disabled or disadvantage children. I struggled with walking in the early part of the week and now just have bad knees a few days on. I haven’t caught the bug, but I do fancy giving it one more go next year where I can hopefully train injury free and complete the race in under the magic 4 hour mark.” You can contribute here.

“We are certain that French film lovers do not want to see these films three years after the rest of the world. We are thrilled to explore any and all options that will give these films an opportunity to be viewed by as large an audience as possible, on a variety of screens, because similar to French exhibitors, we want to continue to contribute to the development and financing of films.”
Netflix is airing some of its forthcoming movies at the Cannes Film Festival, a move which could see strict rules on exhibition to home entertainment in France preventing customers in the territory from seeing them on the svod service for three years… It is currently looking got see if it can air them before…
Fast & Furious 8 continues to motor on, with its total now exceeding the £23 million mark, ahead of The Boss Baby and Beauty And The Beast, the latter is now the most successful musical ever in the UK. Highest new entry in the UK box office chart was Their Finest, with more than £850,000 in its opening frame at cinemas. The event cinema release of Eugene Onegin from the Met Opera took £274,598, slightly ahead of Unforgettable, with £270,610. 
Welcome to a world where the smallest release date news, no matter how far away, becomes a major international story. This week Disney unveiled a stream of dates that got all the fan types hot under the collar, with, as ever, Star Wars leading the way… The ninth episode in the ongoing saga, aka Episode IX, directed by Colin Trevorrow (the man behind Jurassic World) is now due on May 24 2019. Given that date, then it’s likely that it’ll de out on DVD sometime around September 23 that same year. Let’s start wishing our lives away right now…
You want more? Well, in other not surprising news from Disney’s release dates announcement, it’s been confirmed that the title for the Frozen sequel will be, er, Frozen 2. And it’s due at the end of November in 2019. The live action Lion King arrives in the same year, although the next Indiana Jones will not appear in cinemas until 2020…
Sequel news and it appears as if a second World War Z is on the way, and with Brad Pitt still involved, this week it seems as if David Fincher is set to step in behind the camera as director. The first film came out via Paramount in 2013… And elsewhere, the Jurassic World sequel has stepped up a gear with the news that the ever-popular Jeff Goldblum is returning as Dr Ian Malcolm, s move welcomed by, well, pretty much everyone really, such is the actor’s popularity…
"I used to watch you on TV…”
“It’s a good monster…”
The King is back…
The latest Alien, a prologue…
Due from Kaleidoscope…
Here’s Saul (again)…
Due from Bulldog…
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