'TARANTOBER' A SUCCESS…
TRUST GETS HAPPY…
MAGIC MOMENTS PAY OFF
ISP TOLD TO BIN OFF SITE
US GETS ITS OWN DIGITAL ACT
WIDENING THE NET AS STREAMER STEAMS IN
HIT SALE HITS THE MARK
HMV'S NAME IN LIGHTS
HIGH FLIERS GOES IN-HOUSE
PANDA'S HALF TERM FUN
TINTIN'S GREAT ADVENTURE
SODA SPARKLES AT LFF
INTERRUPTERS GETS A WORD IN EDGEWAYS
BISHOP BRINGS MORE SUNSHINE
MICKY OUT AT LAST
EMMERDALE CAST ENJOYS A NIGHT IN
SAINSBURY'S OFFERS MORE THAN SCOOBY SNACKS
RIO SAMBAS INTO VIEW
BRINGING MEERKATS TO MARKET
DOCTOR WHO COMES TO THE PARTY
DEAD WALK INTO PLENTY OF HOMES
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
AT THE MOVIES
SITE OF THE WEEK
TWEET OF THE WEEK
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
It Was A Good Week For… The forces of good, fighting against piracy and illegal downloading…
It Was A Bad Week For… BT and other ISPs, finally forced to act against illegal sites…
We always like to start with the good news, or to celebrate a recent success, and it's no different this week, with Lionsgate marking an impressive few weeks' worth of business, not least with the success of the Blu-ray debuts for its Miramax Quentin Tarantino trio of Pulp Fiction, From Dusk Till Dawn and Jackie Brown. Commenting on their success, Lionsgate's Ben Grunbaum said: "We are delighted with the result on Pulp Fiction, we had a targeted above the line campaign focusing on the new extras and spreading the word of mouth through social interaction via Twitter and Facebook. Our hashtag campaign of #Tarantober has been a great success alongside the releases of Jackie Brown and From Dusk Till Dawn also on Blu-ray last week. Numerous bloggers and entertainment sites on Twitter have supported the release with competitions and positive reviews. Our play.com world exclusive Steelbook has flown out with Quentin Tarantino himself also wanting a copy." The Tarantino titles join the likes of the Martin Scorsese-helmed documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World, Screwed and Setup as recent successes for the company. Among its next batch of releases is Strictly Come Dancing: Dance School, for more on that, see below.
It's been a busy week in the ongoing war against piracy, with developments on both sides of the Atlantic. Let's start here first, and before we head to the courts, look at the Industry Trust For IP Awareness and its latest initiatives. The Trust has joined forces with Warner for a unique Happy Feet Two trailer that marks the latest salvo in its ongoing Moments Worth Paying For campaign. The trailer, which launches today (Friday) at cinemas and in online and digital media, features excerpts from the film, and promotes the cause of legally watching films, via FindAnyFilm.com, as well as facing up to the threat of piracy. Director general of the Industry Trust Liz Bales said: " We’re delighted to be partnering with Warner Bros. Pictures UK and Happy Feet Two on this, the latest execution in our Moments Worth Paying For campaign. The trailer perfectly captures the emotional impact that great movie moments can have and helps to extend the reach of our campaign to a younger audience." Josh Berger, president and md for Warner UK, Ireland and Spain, said: "Copyright infringement remains a major challenge across the audiovisual sector so, by supporting the ‘Moments Worth Paying For’ campaign with some key moments from Happy Feet Two, we are continuing to spread the message that the best way of enjoying high quality film and TV shows is through legally available services." To see the trailer in full, head over to our website, www.theraygun.co.uk
The Industry Trust's latest initiative comes as a new study reveals that the Moments Worth Paying For Campaign is working where it counts. The ICM study suggests that people who've seen the campaign are 1.6 times more likely to pay for legal content. Better still, it's having its greatest effect on people who are viewing illegal content that infringes copyright: those who have seen are 2.4 times more likely to pay for official content, a figure far higher than for those not watching films illegally. Industry Trust director general Liz Bales said: "It's still early days, but the research clearly shows the ‘Moments Worth Paying For’ campaign is having a positive impact on consumers. The campaign will continue to evolve over the next twelve months with a range of cinema trailers, supported by our partners across exhibition. The Trust’s collaboration with industry partners, including Warner Bros. Pictures, ensures that consumer education continues to play a vital role in supporting the audio-visual industry’s wider anti-piracy strategy, encompassing: enforcement, regulation and innovation. Each one of these components help to reduce the impact of piracy on the UK’s audio-visual industry." The PR continues too – this week saw a major news story appearing in the Metro newspaper. The story, which was backed by the Industry Trust and FindAnyFilm.com, looked at the increasing demand for viewing film and television on the go, on iPads, smartphones and the likes, and pushed readers in the direction of paid-for, officially sanctioned content. You can see the story here.
The other big anti-piracy story of the week came from the courts, as a high court judge ruled that BT has 14 days to to block the notorious Newzbin2 website. It's the first ruling of its kind, and sees the country's biggest Internet service provider ISP being forced to block its customers accessing the site, which lists availability of illegal copies of films and television programmes. Crucially, the judgment also stated that the ruling also covered any further sites that may be set up by the Newzbin2 operators. Newzbin2 was launched after legal efforts closed down its predecessor – the new ruling covers this eventuality and means the Hollywood studios and trade body the MPA will not have to go back to the courts again. BT will also have to cover the costs of this and any further blocking too. BT, through gritted teeth, presumably, said it was glad the court had made the situation clear. The decision was welcomed by the industry, and it is believed by many that it is significant because it clears a path for similar action against other sites and will force other ISPs to block them. Film Distributors Association president Lord Puttnam said: "The law is clear. Industrial online piracy is illegal and can be stopped." MPA md Chris Marcich added: "Securing the intervention of the ISPs was the only way to put the commercial pirates out of reach for the majority of consumers. This move means that we can invest more in our own digital offerings, delivering higher quality and more variety of products to the consumer."
Over in the US, legislation similar to our stalled Digital Economy Act (see here for an interesting piece from BBC News entitled Whatever Happened To The digital Economy Act) has moved a step closer to becoming law with the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act by the House Judiciary Committee. It's backed by Hollywood, but, no surprise here, opposed by tech companies and ISPs. It is hoped the legislation, which allows copyright holders to take their own action against sites offering illegal copies of films and force payment processors and advertising companies to withdraw support from them, as well as givinhg the authorities greater powers to act against foreign websites. Opponents include the Tea Party. It could become law by Christmas.
But it wasn't all good news this week. Our old pals at The Guardian have been at it again, with another barb at the industry, and the predictable comments from its readers, who seem to be among the most active illegal downloaders if their remarks are anything to go by. Read it here and comment if you want to let off steam. In fact, there's been scores of stories about the industry all across the newspapers this week. See, for example those we've already mentioned, such as the BBC, The Guardian and the Metro. Witness also the number of newspapers who've followed up stories about Warner and its reported row with Blockbuster in the US in a row over windows, the sticking point being the 28 day sale to rental window. The Financial Times was the only paper that seemed to have any official comment, with Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros home entertainment saying: "Blockbuster felt it was important to continue to offer day and date rental, so rather than work with us they went around us. The question is: how do we make ownership more valuable and attractive? We have started the process of creating a window in bricks-and-mortar DVD and Blu-ray rental."
Also drawing fire from The Guardian readership was the decision to delete all the Harry Potter titles from sale at the start of 2012. Oh, hang on, seems as if The Guardian and others may have taken their story from the US and not checked the situation in the UK. Warner today confirmed to The Raygun that it was merely deleting the first six films and not the final two nor the box sets at the end of the year. A spokesman said: "In the UK and Ireland we will be placing the individual editions of the first six Harry Potter films on moratorium from January 2012. The last two titles, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2, and the series box-sets will continue to be active lines for the foreseeable future." There's a lesson in there somewhere for journalists, but we can't quite work out what it is…Something to do with checking facts…
And, of course, there was the welter of publicity over the imminent arrival on these shores of Netflix. It was a relatively simple statement, not even furnished with a comment, but in less than 200 words, the US streaming and rental by post giant confirmed that it was heading to these shores and will be open for business in the UK and Ireland early next year. It will, the statement said, be " offering unlimited TV shows and movies streaming instantly over the Internet to TVs and computers for one low monthly subscription price". Members would, it continued, "be able to instantly watch a wide array of TV shows and movies right on their TVs via a range of consumer electronics devices capable of streaming from Netflix, as well as on PCs, Macs and mobile tablets and phones". There's no mention of physical rentals in the move, which has long been mooted although previously deferred. It promises more detail closer to the launch, stay tuned for more…
Another announcement hitting the headlines in the national press was the sale of HIT Entertainment, which was acquired by Mattel. The deal, worth $680 million, has long been talked about, but it has now become a reality. It'll be interesting to observe how it will effect the home entertainment arm, particularly as Mattel has no such arm of its own… According to the Financial Times, as various rights deals expire in the coming years, "Mattel said it would focus on devising a 'game plan' for media content related to the brand as well as toys themselves". (See here for the full story.)
One company that has drawn fire in the media (most of it unfairly) is, of course, HMV. But good news from the retailer this week as it officially unveiled its seasonal campaign due to kick off on November 7. The Christmas Lights campaign, with a Love Christmas strapline and the iconic Nipper character wrapped in lights, will feature, among others, Cars, Transformers and Kung Fu Panda as well as music, technology and games characters. It will appear on TV, radio, press, outdoor, online and in stores. HMV's head of brand creative Mark Robertson said: "With our brand heritage and specialist credentials we always like to do something special for Christmas – partly by way of engaging with our customers and the wider gift-buying public on a more emotional level and really tapping into the powerful sentiment that so many of us feel for Christmas, but also so that our great offers and recommendations really cut through and stand out on the high street as well as online." See some images up on our website shortly…
Long-standing independent label High Fliers has announced that it is taking its sales in-house under new head of sales Mark Anderson. The company is also moving its distribution and replication to Technicolor. The move comes ahead of what High Fliers believes will be one of its strongest years ever, with the likes of powerful Rachel Weisz drama The Whistleblower, Brit revenge flick Four, James Gandolfini in Welcome To The Rileys and A Very British Gangster 2. High Fliers md May Monteiro said: "Having expanded over the last two years in the retail arena, the time was right for our sales function to be brought in house. With Mark now on board we have a strong team of talented and dedicated people to work on the fantastic line of product we are releasing in 2012." Marketing manager Jane Lawson added: "We are really excited about sales coming in house and working on our 2012 slate. We have an extremely strong line up of theatrical and DVD product and are looking forward to creating and delivering exciting marketing campaigns to support these fantastic releases."
To Paramount's central London screening room for a special preview of some forthcoming DreamWorks Animation product from the major. The company used the half term break to invite families of journalists and assorted media types (The Raygun and its junior correspondents included) along to see its November 14 release Kung Fu Panda 2 and get a sneak preview of the first DreamWorks Dragons title, a double header of 20-minute long shorts made up of Gift Of The Night Fury and Book Of Dragons.
Also courtesy of Paramount, we were lucky enough to be at the premiere of The Adventures Of Tintin, the high profile Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson production that boasts a wealth of Brit-friendly talent, from writers Steven Moffat, Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright to stars Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Daniel Mays, all of whom were at the Odeon West End in London's Leicester Square for the event, which was covered in national newspapers, on TV and radio, alongside numerous interviews with the stars and creators. The red carpet – or rather blue carpet – element also aired live on Twitter. And the film itself? As our Twitter review showed, our junior correspondent gave it maximum marks. The title will form one of the key parts of Paramount's exciting Q1 line-up, which will also include another current box office hit, Paranormal Activity 3. For more on the studio's 2012 slate, see forthcoming issues of The Raygun.
Last night saw the London Film Festival draw to a close, and ended what most deemed to be a hugely successful two week event. We'll be offering a full report on our website next week, with thoughts on the films from writers and distributors alike, taking in all sides of the LFF. But in the meantime, one independent that scored well at the LFF was Soda Pictures. Our roving correspondent Alex Kidd was at this week's gala screening of We Have a Pope, the Nanni Moretti film. It was followed by a hilarious press conference, that included shoes being thrown at the presenter, calls to Italy and a lot more. It capped an event that included Oslo, August 31st (one of The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw's best films), Strawberry Fields, family gala presentation Tales Of The Night, music doc Black Power Mixtape and Junkhearts. The latter picked up an award for Candese Reid for best newcomer, best film of the festival was Artificial Eye's much discussed We Need To Talk About Kevin. Soda's Ed Fletcher said: "With two galas, a film on the square and an awarding winning world premiere it was a corking festival for us, rounded off with a thoroughly enjoyable closing night."
See Alex Kidd's report on We Have A Pope on our website next week. This week we've had his regular round up of screenings and the likes, our usual coverage of reviews in the national press, trailers, features and loads more. And to contribute to our feature on the London Film Festival send us some words on your highlights, personal or for your company, to the usual address…
More awards and this week also saw the nominations announced for the Cinema Eye Honors awards, which hand out gongs to the best in non-fiction film-making. And it was no surprise to see titles from documentary specialist Dogwoof featuring heavily. Chief among those was The Interrupters, due on December 5 on DVD and to download from the independent. The film, which comes with a host of glowing reviews, looks at volunteers, many reformed gang members, trying to stamp out gun crime on the mean streets of Chicago. Dogwoof's Terry Stevens said: "The Interrupters is a staggering film, in part due to the intimate access to the CeaseFire Interrupters themselves and part due to its scale. Steve James shot hours upon hours of footage before painstakingly editing this down to create the finished film. We’re delighted Steve agreed to handpick a selection of deleted scenes for inclusion on the DVD, making the package a really immersive experience. We’re also happy to be working with UK based organisations similar to CeaseFire to support the release by staging special screenings with Q&As."
Some Q4-related news now, and tonight sees John Bishop, the comedy 2010 stand-up DVD debutant whose Elvis Has Left The Building Tour release was one of the success stories of last year. His sophomore title, The Sunshine Tour, is out on November 14. The campaign kicks off in earnest tonight as Bishop appears on The Graham Norton Show to promote the release. Above the line activity will start the Friday before release, with TV, press and outdoor. The latter was one of the key reasons behind its success last year, and National Rail and London Underground. Marketing will also target Bishop's hometown Liverpool, he will also be doing another signing in HMV's flaghsip Merseyside store.
Where John Bishop went last year, expect Micky Flanagan to tread in 2011. They may be from opposite ends of England, Flanagan is defiantly Cockney to Bishop's Scouse, but they have enjoyed a similar "overnight" success after working their way up. After treading the boards at comedy clubs everywhere, Flanagan has become a household name this year after appearing on the likes of Live At The Apollo, the Royal Variety Show and panel shows such as Mock The Week. Now he's firmly established, the time is right, 4DVD said, to launch his debut release. The Out Out Tour is due, er, out on November 14; we viewed it this week and it really is an assured debut from a very funny man. 4DVD's Claire Bosak said: "Micky is definitely the comedian everyone is talking about with a routine that includes many catchphrases, like 'I’m going out, out'. We really believe this is Micky’s year and are launching with a marketing campaign that reinforces that using all forms of media, notably an extensive outdoor and TV campaign."
Assorted journalists were on hand at ITV's offices this week for a sneak preview of ITV Studios Home Entertainment's release of the latest DVD exclusive from Emmerdale, Paddy And Marlon's Big Night In. The title, due on November 14, features a clutch of the soap's key characters and it's content was shaped following extensive research into what makes soap DVD spin-offs work. The screening was followed by a press conference and round table interviews, which is certain to garner attention for the release in key newspapers and magazines. ITV Studios Home Entertainment's Kylie Featherstone said: "The campaign is led by some great PR, where we will see the guys on Alan Titchmarch, This Morning and Daybreak as well as a targeted national Press and TV above the line campaign aimed at self purchases and the gifting market. Crucial to our promotion is that elements of the DVD storyline are written into the soap and as such we will have trails after those episodes - ensuring that the 7 million viewers of Emmerdale are engaged with the DVD."
If you've been in to a Sainsbury's this week (as we have, picking up, among other things, our pumpkins for Halloween), you can't have helped but notice the retailer has gone Scooby crazy. Warner this week revealed more about its promotion with Sainsbury's that has seen Scooby-Doo effectively become the face of the retailer's Halloween activity. The online marketing activity kicked off this week to support the in-store brand-building elements that have been in place for some time now. This week also saw the release of the all new live action/CG blend feature Scooby-Doo! Curse Of The Lake Monster. Some 40 years after he was born, Scooby is still hugely popular with youngsters, the new strand. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc is one of the hightest rated children's programmes, airing on CBBC and Boomerang. As well as the in-store activity, which included point of sale throughout the store, DVDs at the checkot and, at The Raygun's local north London branch, a special standee with product near the entrance, this week has also seen Jedward appearing with a mystery mansion truck at Sainsbury's in Sydenham. Warner marketing director Sarah Bird said: "Teaming up with Sainsbury's is just one example of how we can plan and execute a compelling cross category promotional campaign with one of the UK's leading retailers and one of the UK's favourite family brands. Scooby is synonymous with spooky fun so we saw an immediate opportunity to get families more involved with the brand this Halloween." Sainsbury's head of non-food marketing Rebecca Singleton added: "We’re looking forward to partnering with Warner Bros. and Scooby Doo to offer our customers an even more exciting in-store experience this Halloween."
Also out and about this week, as well as Jedward, were Strictly Come Dancing stars Camilla Dallerup and Ian Waite, who appeared at Westfield, west London, to promote the release of Fox's Rio by holding samba dance classes. For more see our website. Fox and its agency Premier PR will be busy again on Monday, promoting the release of X-Men: First Class by setting up a first class lounge in the concourse at Victoria train station in London. Star Jason Flemyng will appear alongside characters from the film and a mind-reader, while the pop-up area will heavily promote the release. More next week…
And there's more in-store, as Fremantle staffers were at a meet and greet with a difference, alongside a meerkat, owls, snakes and giant spiders at the flagship National Geographic Store in Regent Street at a special event hosted by Nat Geo Kids Magazine and other National Geographic brand publishing and toy partners to show off their wares. Fremantle senior marketing manager Rebecca Candler said: "Everybody knows that National Geographic make fantastic wildlife and factual programming and last night's event was a really great example of how the brand engages even the youngest wildlfe enthusiast."
Not quite in-store, but in homes, and we love 2 entertain's plans to promote its November 21 bow of the Complete Doctor Who Series 6 on Blu-ray and DVD. The company is marking the release by hosting the first ever official Doctor Who parties. Fans can sign up to host their own parties in their own homes, with the first 400 signing up receiving a official merchandise, game suggestions; they'll also be able to stream exclusive footage from the DVD before its release. The events will take place on November 19 and 20, and even those not lucky enough to get the packs, will get the opportunity to download masks and other elements to print at home.
Zombie fans will have been glued to the FX channel last Friday night for the first episode of the second series (or season, if you're using the US parlance) or The Walking Dead, the comic book adaptation that follows a disparate band of survivors battling against the odds in a zombie-strewn America. The series not only got off to a flying start in terms of content (we were among those tuning in and it was chock full of surprises) but also won over plenty of viewers. According to figures released this week, it drew a total of 693,000 viewers, almost two thirds were under 50 years old, making it the second biggest non-terrestrial TV show of the night in the key 18 to 49-year-old demographic. It was a pattern that was repeated in territories around the world and bodes well for eOne's release of Season 2 in 2012. The company's Ellie Davies said: "It’s great to see the show doing so well – we think it’s something really special, and obviously the viewers agree with us. We’re hugely excited to be releasing The Walking Dead Season 2."
Also on the horror front, we spent part of this morning deep in conversation with The Human Centipede 2 director Tom Six ahead of the Bounty Films and Eureka release of the controversial tale. He's surprisingly charming, expect to see his words of wisdom on the BBFC and the furore over the film on our website next week…
And we'll end with news of an office movie. Ever-growing independent operation Kaleidoscope has moved offices to bigger premises. Its new address is 104-108 Oxford Street, London, W1D 1LP.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"For us it's a matter of optionality and making it available. We know the crowd sourcing is becoming more important when it comes to what people watch and buy." Neil Davis, Blockbuster US's head of corporate and digital development, discussing the retailer's move to allow customers to rent films via Facebook and interact with them, offering their thoughts and reactions to scenes, seeing comments from friends and other elements.
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
Last week we looked at Robbie Savage's release via Revolver, a title that will be boosted by his involvement with Strictly Come Dancing. This week, it's the turn of another Strictly related title, Lionsgate's Strictly Come Dancing: Dancing School, which features some of the show's professionals talking the viewer through dance routines, as well as offering Strictly-style make-up and wardrobe tips. It's more dance tutorial than fitness title, but the Strictly phenomenon – it's currently beating `The X-Factor when they go head to head – ensures it will garner plenty of interest. Interviews and promotional activities will appear in most of the key women's magazines. Lionsgate's senior product manager Kaz Mills said: "We’re thrilled to be releasing the first official learn-to-dance DVD from one of BBC One’s flagship Entertainment shows. For the first time, we are catering for fans of all ages and capabilities by breaking down classic dances into very simple bitesize steps so that anyone can learn to dance like a Strictly Star. We’re supporting the release with TV, press and outdoor advertising to ensure we reach the huge fanbase."
AT THE MOVIES
Paranormal Activity 3 showed the franchise is far from diminishing, taking some £3.4 million in its opening weekend. Other new entries included Contagion, which took almost £1.5 million and We Need To Talk About Kevin, which bowed with nearly £500,000 in receipts.
Observers at last week's Stone Roses high profile press conference announcing the fabled band's return (no, we weren't there and no, we didn't get tickets, although we may for the London dates) may have noticed one of our favourite people Shane Meadows in attendance. He wasn't just ligging though, for the director of, among others, This Is England and Dead Man's Shoes, is said to be in line to film the eagerly awaited reunion. Negotiations are underway between Meadows and the Roses' people, with an announcement due shortly…
One of our favourite seasonal films of recent years (alongside the majestical Elf, of course, is Nativity, the homegrown comedy about a school's nativity play penned by Debbie Isitt. We've noted with interest then this week's news that a sequel has started filming, with David Tennant in not one but two starring roles. Nativity 2 stars the former Doctor as a teacher supervising his more unruly kids in a national competition for the Christmas themed plays, going up against a fee-paying school whose team is led by another teacher, who just happens to be his brother, a role also played by Tennant. Hazarding a wild guess, we reckon it'll be out for Christmas next year…
SITE OF THE WEEK
Not so much sites to look at, just some interesting reading on the growing underground cult of the VHS tape, which simply refuses to die… See here
TWEET OF THE WEEK
So, there we were, sat in The Adventures Of Tintin premiere, and, as well as seeing it in the flesh and on the big screen, we could follow the whole thing on Twitter too… Paramount is one of the best studios when it comes to using Twitter. Follow us on www.twitter.com/theraygun
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
More from Scorsese's family friendly 3D outing…
The Muppets final spoof trailer implodes upon itself, wonderfully:
Saw's no longer here for Halloween, here the director of almost half the films comes out with a slightly later release…
The franchise returns…
Not anything proper, but this tickled us: The Avengers trailer, spoofed…
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