NEWSLETTER :: January 7 2011
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It Was A Good Week For…  Warner, ending one of its best years ever on a high note with the massive success of Inception.

It Was A Bad Week For… HMV. At the end of another somewhat undeserved mauling from the press for its trading statement…

As we trailed in our last newsletter before Christmas, Warner's dream came true in the run-up to Christmas as its thriller Inception was the top seller in the final days before December 25. It notched up sales of around 300,000 in the week leading up to the big day, an impressive feat by anyone's standards, and all the more impressive given the fierce competition. Warner saw its success continue after Christmas Day too, buoyed by further TV advertising and profile leading up to the new year and beyond. It ended 2010 with sales of some 1.362 million. Inception's success set the seal on what looks set to be a record-breaking year for the studio, more next week once all the final 2010 figures are totted up.

Meanwhile, the BVA has released its figures for the end of the year, which make for interesting reading… The market was worth £2.6 billion in 2010, a relatively static figure compared with 2009. DVD continued to dominate, albeit it with a declining share, 73 per cent of the market, and Blu-ray showing to be growing, achieving a shade over 8 per cent in terms of share. This is followed, according to the BVA and early figures from Screen Digest, by physical and digital rentals, with about eight per cent each (although physical rental is higher in volume). When digital rental and download to own are combined, they now account for 11 per cent of the market. Download to own sales more than doubled from £35 million to £78 million, while digital rentals grew to £205 million, up around £5 million. Blu-ray sales leapt by more than 55 per cent to 13 million units. Q4 saw the traditional rise – £844 million compared with the previous quarter's £393 million. The BVA's Lavinia Carey said: "Video entertainment is enjoyed by millions of people and our figures show that it remains hugely popular.  People now have many more ways to access video and the growing incidence of digital purchases and viewing, although still new, shows that our industry is making progress in embracing technology and using it to respond to changing habits in the digital environment. We of course continue to face challenges. Last year we had to contend with two periods of severe weather conditions that hampered people’s shopping and deliveries, a football world cup and continued online copyright theft, but – as an industry that is often the target of doom mongers – to maintain year-on-year sales value is quite an achievement in a tough retail market. This demonstrates  the enduring enjoyment provided by the video industry and we anticipate the greater pleasure 3D Blu-ray will bring in 2011."

The weather was one of the reasons cited by HMV for its statement this week, which saw newspapers once again rounding on the retailer. One almost wonders what the retailer must have done in a previous life to attract such a rough ride from the UK press, both in the business pages and the tabloids. Its figures, announced a week earlier than anticipated as the vultures started circling in the weekend's business pages, amounted to a profit warning, although it must be noted that the retailer is expected to make a pre-tax profit of between £46 million and £60 million (we reckon that some of its critics in the publishing industry or elsewhere wish they were making that kind of profit). Like for like sales in the five weeks to January 1 were down 13.6 per cent. HMV announced a raft of store closures, around 40 at HMV UK and Ireland and 20 at Waterstones. And while the press began prematurely debating the future of the retailer, the company committed itself to the entertainment sector, and retail in particular. In a statement, HMV said: "We are actually talking about a relatively small number of stores across HMV and Waterstone's chains – less than 10 per cent of our combined estates, which are likely to be located primarily in large-city conurbations and may be in close proximity to each other – thus resulting in a degree of duplication in relation to local demand. The vast majority of HMV stores around the country will not be affected, and we will look to ensure that the specialist offer and service that we make available to our customers in these locations is  maintained. Likewise, we will look to redeploy any affected staff where we possibly can. This move in no way signals any intention to pull out of entertainment retail, which remains at the heart of our offer, and is ultimately aimed at safeguarding our core business as we continue our transformation into a broad-based entertainment brand that now also encompasses live music venues and festivals." Our opinion? The retailer is drawing unnecessary flak; we did much of our Christmas shopping there and the stores were both busy and looked excellent too. And to suggest the demise of the high street or the retailer itself, is jumping to conclusions…

Meanwhile, HMV has also issued a statement about the VAT rise, which slipped in almost unnoticed at the start of the week, but as yet appears to have had little effect on what the consumer pays at the tills (and obviously, none at all online). We remember when the early 1990s rise effectively changed the nascent retail video market overnight, as John Major's government increased the rate and old VHS tapes went over the £10 (or £9.99) price barrier. Before that there were only a clutch of price points, now there are so many offers and varying prices, that it has yet to truly take hold. HMV this week said: "We're doing our best to minimise the impact on customers by spreading the rise across the range of products that we stock in such a way so that we are able maintain the integrity of our price points as well."     

Back to year-end figures, and the BVA 2010 statement included details of the year's bestsellers across different genres. Overall, the year's biggest title was, of course, Avatar (Fox), closely followed by Toy Story 3 (Disney). The rest of the top 10 included two Twilight Saga titles, New Moon and Eclipse, from eOne at three and four respectively, followed by Inception (Warner), 2012 (SPHE), The Hurt Locker (Lionsgate), Up (Disney), and, at nine and 10, a brace from Warner, Sherlock Holmes) and Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince. Bestselling TV title was The Inbetweeners Series 3 (4DVD), music was Michael Jackson's This Is It (SPHE), the bestselling sport title was Lace's 2010 Ryder Cup Official Film, pre-school children's was Peppa Pig – Peppa's Christmas (eOne), overall children's number one was Toy Story 3, fitness was Anchor Bay's 10 Minute Solution Blast Off Belly Fat and comedy was John Bishop's debut stand-up release. Commenting on its strong pre-Christmas showing, 2entertain sales director Brian Hill said: "Despite a tricky climate – the market and the snow – 2 entertain enjoyed some great success stories over the last few months. We ended the year as the fifth largest DVD studio in the UK with four titles in the top 20 (John Bishop, An Idiot Abroad, Clarkson, Top Gear Apocalypse) and the runaway number one stand-up John Bishop. A big thank you to everyone at 2e involved in making this happen and to all our customers who have supported our titles. We’re now looking forward to 2011 which – judging from some of the ratings over Christmas – is already looking like a really strong line-up."

Speaking of top 10s, we are currently finalising a mammoth Top 10s of 2010 feature for our website, pulling in sales-based charts as well as assorted polls and year-end round-ups. Keep checking and you'll also see a wealth of new features, trailers and assorted bits and bobs up there…

Oh, and if you're at a loose end on a Friday (once you've finished reading The Raygun, of course), why not contribute to our year-end survey. All contributions are welcome, we've had loads in and are canvassing for a few more. The all-important questions you need to answer are:
Favourite three releases of the year:
Highlights of 2010:
Lowpoint of 2010:
Event of the year:
Biggest challenge in 2011:
What I'm looking forward to in 2011:
Answers to Results on the website soon…  

We mentioned fitness there, and 2 entertain is enjoying a strong success in this sector too – its Davina Body Buff is currently topping the charts, proving she's still as popular as ever in this sector. Aided by TV that broke after Christmas and continuing throughout the month, PR that has already seen features in the Mirror, Express and Mail On Sunday, and more to come, Davina is certain to add a hefty amount to her lifetime sales of 1 million plus. 2 entertain product manager Kelly Morris said: "Davina is the queen of the fitness DVD and this year she has more exposure than ever with her latest projects and the support she's lent us to keep this title at the top of the chart. We’re confident that Davina's mass appeal will continue to inspire and motivate once again with Body Buff." Anchor Bay, which enjoyed 2010's bestseller and brand with its 10 Minute Solutions range, is also beginning to see its latest release in the franchise, Blast Off Body Fat, start to take off. Anchor Bay's Thom Leaman said: "We’ve more than held our own on the PR side with the help of our brand ambassadors Tina O’Brien and Carol McGiffin. We are, of course, focused on making Blast Off Body Fat an individual success right now, but it is also a great boost to the wider brand, and to which end we’re very hopeful this year of reaching the 1 Million sales mark."

Also performing well after Christmas were a couple of key releases from independents in that all-important post-December 25 slot. Revolver's Bonded By Blood was the company's best-ever conversion from box office to sales and one of its biggest week ones ever. The company's marketing chief Jon Sadler said: "We are absolutely delighted with the performance of Bonded By Blood, it was a great way to end 2010 and start 2011. Not only was it our second biggest week one of the year, it was also our best conversion from box office takings to sales units. And even though it over-performed beyond our realistic expectations, we were more than prepared to maximise the opportunity that the bustling post Christmas period presented us by having it so well set up in accounts by our sales team." Another strong post-Christmas performer was Optimum's The Last Exorcism, making good on its theatrical promise with a good bow in stores. 

More figures now, and details of the year-end US performance have emerged from this year's CES in Las Vegas, with particularly heartening news for Blu-ray, as the format has reached the magic mark that defines it as a mainstream item. There are now 28.5 million players in American homes, with more than 11 million sold last year, up 62 per cent. Software sales were up by almost 70 per cent. The bestselling Blu-ray was Avatar, which sold 15.3 million units worldwide, 5 million of those in the US. The overall market was down 3.3 per cent to $18.8 billion, with DVD down to $14 billion from the previous year's $15.8 billion. Vod was worth almost $2 billion, up more than 20 per cent, and digital retail was worth $683 million, a rise of more than 15 per cent.     

Also from CES, comes more news of the eagerly-awaited global Blu-ray bow for the entire Star Wars series. The series is being released in September (no exact date confirmed yet) and is now available for pre-order. There are three versions available – a complete nine-disc set containing all six films in the series, a three-disc prequel trilogy set and a three-disc original trilogy release. The former will retail at £89.99, the latter two at £44.99 each. The official announcement flagged up Amazon being the pre-order destination, although others such as HMV have also gone live with pre-orders too. Fox home entertainment president Mike Dunn said: "The Star Wars Saga is the most anticipated Blu-ray collection since the launch of the high-def format. The epic franchise pioneered sound and visual presentation in theaters and is perfectly suited to do it again in the home, with a viewing experience only possible with Blu-ray." Lucasfilm vice-president of marketing, online and distribution Doug Yates added: "With all six episodes available for the first time in one collection, this is a great way for families and home audiences to experience the complete Saga from start to finish. And with the quality of high-definition, Blu-ray provides the most immersive home experience possible."

And more from CES, further details are emerging of the UltraViolet digital locker, a cloud-based system that will allow consumers to buy films online, store them and then watch them from any Internet connection. The system has been developed by a vast array of different interests, including all the major studios and developers, bar Disney and Apple. What's more, it has been confirmed that it's coming to the UK later this year. More on next week's newsletter.

Closer to home and on to some forthcoming release news. Sainsbury's has signalled its intentions for 2011 and January 17 sees Ghosts Of War arriving exclusively on its shelves, a move which will see it further broadening its scope. The title is being released by Palisades Tartan, previously Tartan Films, and the independent has inked an exclusive deal with Sainsbury's for the Korean film, the fourth highest grossing horror ever released in the territory. The grocer has been one of the most enthusiastic supporters of DTV and limited theatrical release titles in the past year or two, and has enjoyed great successes with horror and other such fare that a few years ago was often considered out of the supermarkets' range. Ghosts Of War (formerly R Point), which expertly blends two popular DTV titles together is the latest step in this strategy. Sainsbury's Danny Gardner said: "It's great to work with Palisades and Lace on this project, the Tartan catalogue has some great titles in it that our customer base will really respond to." Palisades Tartan president Soumya Sriraman added: "Danny has a great eye and Sainsbury's is the perfect partner for this unique blend of pedigreed mainstream films."

Also into 2011 and Sky has at last announced its plans for its Sky Atlantic channel, which will be made up of, among other things, hours of content from HBO. The launch, on February 1 with Sky's usual marketing muscle, can only be good for HBO's DVD business. Not only will it raise awareness of the brand as a whole (Sky Atlantic will be airing classic HBO programming such as The Wire and Curb Your Enthusiasm), but it means that the company can at last prepare to release forthcoming programming such as the eagerly-anticipated Boardwalk Empire, which boasts the involvement of, among others, Martin Scorsese, on the back of transmission.

It's the Holy Grail of football films (or rather, football hooligan films), and finally, some 20 years after it was first aired, Arrivederci Millwall, the tale of a gang of casually-garbed football fans' trip to Spain in 1982, in the aftermath of the Falklands War, is, at last arriving on DVD. Momentum has picked up the film, originally aired on TV and regarded by those in the know as being, alongside titles such as the original Firm, as being one of the definitive titles within the genre. In a further smart move, Momentum is pairing Arrivederci Millwall with another acclaimed entry into this very British genre, The Football Factory. The pair are released on March 21.      

Arrow Films is continuing its aggressive acquisitions policy, inking a deal to sign the home entertainment and digital rights to the first two complete series of the programme described as the Swedish Morse, Wallander. The Swedish TV series has aired on BBC4 and will be released first as a box set containing half of season one in Q2 and then, later in 2011, the second half of the first series and season two will arrive. The series garnered an average of 750,000 viewers per episode when it aired in the UK, and is due for further repeat transmission this year too.

Lastly another fast-growing independent, Kaleidoscope, has unveiled its release strategy for London-based Brit love story Forget Me Not. The title will be out at cinemas in March, ahead of a DVD bow in the summer. Kaleidoscope's Spencer Pollard said: "We are delighted to be supporting British independent film.  We’re very pleased to be distributing a film which draws from the heritage of British filmmaking and which showcases such fine performances and stunning London cinematography."

"Spain's parliamentarians fear delinquents. What's worse, they don't fear being murdered by delinquents, like in Mexico, but simply that the delinquents won't vote for them." Spanish author Javier Marias reacts to news that Spanish MPs had thrown out measures to curb the country's rampant Internet piracy, allegedly because they were scared of losing the youth vote.
"I had to. I'd followed the whole season. I was hooked. I won't do it again. But could I just download the last episode?" A French illegal downloader responds to authorities after being one of the scores being warned to stop by their ISPs as the country's anti-piracy legislation kicks in.

Some real success stories at UK cinemas, as the likes of Gulliver's Travels (£7 million) and Meet The Parents: Little Fockers (more than £11 million) have led the way over the holidays. Other new arrivals were Love And Other Drugs (£1.6 million) and The Way Back, which took £1.37 million.

Not a week goes by without some kind of update on the next wave of Marvel comic book films set to arrive in the summer… The latest concerns Hawkeye, who, as any self-respecting fan will know, is the bow and arrow-toting, purple-clad archer. He'll be played by Jeremy Renner, of The Hurt Locker fame, and will definitely be appearing in summer 2012's The Avengers. Now it has also been confirmed that fans will get their first glimpse of him in this year's blockbuster Thor. It appears as if Marvel is following its recent habit of allowing characters to make brief cameos in other superhero flicks to whet the public's appetites, a la Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) in Iron Man. Given that Hawkeye was our favourite Avenger years ago, we can't wait…

We ran a story about Life In A Day, the project directed by documentary film-maker turned feature director Kevin McDonald and executive producer Ridley Scott, supported by The aim was to capture different experiences from around the world on one day last year and, from the 4,500 hours submitted from 192 different countries, the final list has now been completed, with 26 of the directors going to Sundance for the world premiere at the end of January. The film will be streamed simultaneously on the 27th at, before a theatrical release and being made available on demand and online later in the year. It looks set to bypass a physical home entertainment release entirely…

His Monsters may have cost less than $1 million to make, but director Gareth Edwards' next creature outing is likely to have a slightly bigger budget than that. The helmer is set to direct the latest take on the Godzilla franchise, currently being produced at Legendary Pictures, which releases via Warner.

Our favourite snippet of the week, however, concerns Will Ferrell and John C Reilly, who partnered in, among other things, Step Brothers. The duo are now rumoured to be recording an album, of rap songs of all things, as their characters from the comedy. The film itself saw them releasing a single, Boats N Hoes, the promo clip of which, released to promote the film on youtube, has been viewed a whopping 8.5 million times. The album is said to be in the same rap style as that song, although it could all be one giant hoax. If it is true, We can't wait for this one…


Picked up from Twitter (see below), this is gorgeous. And not only does it look great, it actually has some worth too – offering a look at US box office figures for 2010, week by week. Be patient while it loads, it really is worth the effort (Thanks to for this.) And while we're at it, take a look at this, which again, was picked up from one of the Twitter-types we follow ( Then we realised we actually knew the bloke who created it, it's great, offering a timeline of science fiction films:
Oh, and while we're at it, here's another one, again, picked up from Twitter, it apparently shows, from Rotten Tomatoes' ratings, that sequels are not as good as the originals. It's now a fact, apparently.

Blimey, for those following Twitter rather than, say, reading a newspaper, they'd have ended the Christmas holidays thinking that Charlie Sheen, Owen Wilson and Adam Sandler had died… Follow us at

A lot better than the title would suggest, The Chemical Brothers provide the music:

This is looking hugely enjoyable:

The next Ice Age is a long time coming, in the meantime, we can please ourselves with this:

Kind of like Twister, only a documentary:

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