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It Was A Good Week For… Just look at those Q1 figures… Who says it's a dying industry?

It Was A Bad Week For…  Our friends in the national press… Happy to report our industry's woes, but never the positive news…

As if celebrating the best of our industry at last week’s annual awards wasn’t enough, there was more cheer from the BVA as the company unveiled the Q1 figures from its perspective and they made for uplifting reason. For despite two of the industry’s biggest retailers both being embroiled in administration woes (that’s Blockbuster and HMV, in case you’ve been in hiding), they showed a buoyant industry defying the doom and gloom merchants and naysayers. With sales growing by 10.1 per cent across physical and digital sectors, spending for the months between January and March. Broken down, physical sales were at £362.1 million, up 7.2 per cent year on year, and within that Blu-ray was up 44 per cent to £65.3 million. Blu-ray hardware also broke through the 5 million barrier in terms of its installed base, with 5,010,100 mark. Digital spending was up 55.5 per cent, totalling £116.3 million, according to the figures from HIS Screen Digest. Of course, the Skyfall factor helped these impressive figures, but there were also other success stories: The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2, Taken 2, Game Of Thrones and Madagascar were among the other strong performers. The BVA’s Lavinia Carey said: “Today’s figures are most encouraging, particularly the increase in the value of physical sales and uplifting performance of Blu-ray Discs. Strong releases and improving consumer confidence clearly had a big impact. Given we’ve also seen the rescue of both HMV and Blockbuster since they fell into administration in January, these figures will be a boost for the whole industry. It’s an illustration of people’s attachment to video discs, as well as the increasing use of digital services to supplement the constant demand for great entertainment in and out of the home.”
The only downside of the impressive figures? Well, from where we’re standing, it was a shame that some sections of the press, particularly those so keen to jump on any negative stories from our business, managed to ignore the good news tale the industry had to tell. Kudos to The Independent and City AM for being among those to spread the word. And a further black mark for The Guardian, which has been one of the prime movers in “death of the industry/physical formats” stories for months, if not years. It studiously avoided the story, because, in the words of Alan Partridge, it didn’t fit in with its blinkered world vision. So what can be done? Well, our suggestion to any media buyers and marketing people out there would be to hit them where it hurts – in their already depleted pockets. Why not advertise in a newspaper that supports our industry, rather than one which is knocking our business and has a rather more flippant stance when it comes to illegal downloading and streaming…

While we’re on the BVAs, let’s just return briefly to last week’s awards. Along with our extensive coverage on last week’s newsletter, we’ve also put a full version up on our website, pulling out some interesting facts and figures as well as listing the winners in full and rounding up comments from many of the winners. Meanwhile, what did you think of the awards event? We’ve been getting a number of emails this week commenting on the overall event and we’d be interested in hearing your views – either on or off the record. Please email letting us know what you thought…
More reaction from the BVA awards, and congratulations to Lionsgate for its success with Mad Men at this year’s awards, where it picked up the gong for Marketing Initiative Of The Year for the TV sector. It was an impressive achievement, particularly when you consider that the series was on its fifth season, although we must admit, its complete box set with whisky tumbler still has pride of place on our shelves. The company’s Ben Grunbaum said: “We're delighted with the win for Mad Men in the Television Marketing Initiative category. The team behind it worked hard to make it the biggest Season yet and it's fantastic to be rewarded for our efforts against some stellar opposition.”

Universal was the big winner at last week’s BVAs, and the major is putting in an early bid for next year’s gongs with its campaign for Les Miserables, due on Monday May 13. The TV campaign broke on Wednesday and will continue over the weekend, with spots in the likes of Britain’s Got Talent, and, many key satellite programmes such as Boardwalk Empire, Game Of Thrones and Mad Men. The outdoor campaiugn has also gone live, with digital six sheets and roadside ads up, with more, including underground spots, to come. And, as mentioned here previously, the day or release has also been dubbed National Sing Your Day, with loads of activity themed around the event, including at HMV stores and outside Asda’s head office. Chief among these is the event at London’s St Pancras station, with thousands expected to turn up for the Les Miserables flash mob event. Partners include Magic, which will be pushing the event in its breakfast show, while the Metro newspaper will be offered in Les Miserables themed bins, with some Metro staff even singing while handing out newspapers at stations, while wearing French revolutionary garb… Universal’s Grace O’Donnell said: “We are delighted with the above & below the line set up for Les Misérables. It was important to deliver an innovative & disruptive, yet targeted and efficient campaign, encouraging the consumer to bring the dream home. The in-store set up is fantastic and we are especially thrilled to have retail support for our National Sing Your Day activity on day of release.” More on this next week, including plenty on our website

In a move that’s been described in various quarters as “a game-changer”, 4DVD and its partners this week unveiled a groundbreaking release strategy for the forthcoming Ben Wheatley film, A Field In England. For in a first, the film, a supernatural tale set in the English civil war, is being released simultaneously across all formats – DVD and Blu-ray, Film4 and assorted vod formats AND theatrical. The title is due on July 5 – meaning a Friday physical release, a rare move these days. Each variation will have its own USP – a satellite Q&A for the theatrical release at Picturehouse cinemas, among others, a director’s introduction and interview on TV – but arguably the best comes from 4DVD, which boasts a raft of extras and additional features on its release. And anyone who’s seen Wheatley’s Sightseers, complete with gorgeous menus and hilarious Making Of footage will testify to that. In a recent interview with The Raygun, 4DVD’s David Root pledged that the company’s increased film focus would see it experimenting with different release strategies, this, the first in an ongoing partnership with Film4 and its new Film4.0 production arm, as well as Picturehouse and others, has come good on that. 4DVD’s Lucy Bulmer said: “We are so excited about A Field in England.  It’s unlike any other release of its time, and it’s definitely causing a stir in the industry so it’s amazing to be a part of it.  Ben Wheatley has been hotly tipped as one of the UK most innovative directors and A Field in England will not disappoint his fans. The DVD and Blu-ray will be packed with exclusive extras including Behind the Scenes an interview with Ben Wheatley and lots more.” Wheatley himself said: “It's great to team up with Film4 to make this film and to work with new partners such as Picturehouse and 4DVD. We have tried to innovate with this film, in production and distribution. I'm very proud of the results and look forward to sharing the film with the audience." More on the marketing, which will include joint advertising with the partners across the different formats as well as solus 4DVD activity print and online, in the coming weeks. And more on the release strategy up shortly on our website
Former Momentum staff are now settling down in their new home as the integration between them and eOne continues apace. The merging of the two operations – certainly on the home entertainment side – is now pretty much complete, and by anyone’s reckoning the new-look eOne is a force to be reckoned with. Its Q3 slate, which we will be reporting on in the coming weeks on The Raygun, will include almost 30 titles, hefty by anyone’s standards. And the newly merged eOne’s theatrical arm could be boasting up to 75 titles a year, according to some sources, which could well catapult it into the major studios’ league, even taking it beyond many of them. The home entertainment arm is taking shape too. The sales team will be headed up by Neil Williams, while the marketing arm by Matt Brightwell, both under the auspices of Ken McMahon. Interestingly, eOne will now boast separate digital and physical home entertainment teams, the former overseen by Nick Smith, with Sayoko Tietz handling the marketing. McMahon said: “This is the beginning of something very, very exciting. It’s a massive company and we’re going to be up there with the majors.”
Also, it’s with some sadness that the new-look eOne, The Raygun and many others bid goodbye to former marketing director Kristin Ryan, off to new pastures new after leaving the company. Ken McMahon paid tribute to the popular staffer, saying: “For the last 11 years, Kristin has been the heart and soul of Momentum Pictures and we’re really sad to see her go.” We echo his sentiments and wish her all the best for the future. We’re sure our paths will cross again; to contact Ryan, who’s currently mulling over different opportunities, you can email her on

This week’s big theatrical opening is Star Trek Into Darkness, the latest from the revitalised franchise and the man seemingly behind every credible big blockbuster around, JJ Abrams. And many in the trade, especially those who weren’t able to attend the premiere last week due to the clash with the BVA awards, were able to see the film at a special preview screening organised by Paramount’s home entertainment arm and hosted at Dolby’s plush screening room in London’s Soho Square. And our verdict (and that of most people there, judging by the post-film feedback): outstanding. It’s an excellent addition to the Star Trek canon, a next step on in the story of the crew of the Enterprise, with, in the shape of Benedict Cumberbatch, a superlative baddie. What’s more, it boasts excellent effects and the 3D looks great too, which will bode well for the home entertainment bow later in 2013, with a 3D Blu-ray being one of the SKUs planned. It’s the latest strand of activity in another busy year for the long-running sci-fi franchise, which will have ongoing releases for its Enterprise and Next Generation strands ahead of the release of Into Darkness. They’ll join the recently released remastered first 10 films box sets in both Blu-ray and DVD SKUs. Paramount’s Barney Hands said: “We were delighted to screening this excellent title to the trade. Star Trek is bigger, bolder and better than ever before - this being the first film in the franchise to be presented in 3D which will provide us with the opportunity to give consumers the best possible 3D Blu-ray home media experience for our release in September."
And, as we are wont to say on a Friday, it’s been another busy seven days or so in the digital world, with another raft of deals and announcements. First, LOVEFiLM has made an interesting announcement which has seen it sign up exclusive content for its Instant service for the first time. And what an exclusive too: it has inked a deal with MGM’s TV arm to air Vikings, currently one of the US’ most popular series. It will go live from May 24 in the UK, before moving on to other LOVEFiLM territories. Better still for LOVEFiLM, the May release date comes two days before Netflix goes live with its next exclusive, allowing it to gazump its rival. Commenting on the deal, LOVEFiLM’s Chris Bird said: “As the first time a TV series has arrived on LOVEFiLM Instant before airing on traditional broadcasting platforms, this is an incredibly exciting landmark in our history. We are serious about securing the best film and TV entertainment for our members and this demonstrates how content creators view LOVEFiLM as an effective broadcasting medium for their high-quality and premium entertainment.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in this same sector, Tesco’s Clubcard TV service, which is run by blinkbox, has announced its own exclusive. Elite New Face, is a programme which follows a group of model contestants on the road to stardom. The first nine part series will appear only on the ad-supported service available to Tesco’s Clubcard members. Clubcard TV md Scott Deutrom said: “We’re thrilled to offer our first Clubcard TV exclusive. The Elite New Face series is a must watch for anyone interested in this exciting competition and the fascinating world of modelling. We hope this will be the first of many great exclusives for the growing number of Clubcard members discovering their new TV service.”
More from blinkbox too – last Friday (May 2) saw the company launching the latest thrust in its ongoing marketing campaign. The tongue in cheek spot warns consumers of the dangers of leaving their homes, urging them instead to stay in and watch films via blinkbox. In another dig at its rivals, the campaign, which runs across press, outdoor and online too, points out that of the top 100 box office earners of the past 18 months, 76 are available via blinkbox and less than 10 each on LOVEFiLM and Netflix. Marketing director Kate Simon said: ““We’ve focused on the drama in our great movies in May, with a tongue in cheek message reflecting the blinkbox personality. We’re on a mission to help everyone stay safe by watching the latest releases on blinkbox from the comfort of their home – or emergency bunker – rather than risking the dangerous outdoor pastimes that could tempt them to their doom this summer. The campaign also highlights the benefits of blinkbox that set us apart from competitor services – we’re proud to have most of the big blockbusters over a year before LOVEFiLM Instant and Netflix.” We’ll have the ad up shortly on our website

Our last bit of news in this arena and, as we’ve noted above, Arrested Development is on its way as an exclusive to Netflix in the UK and US. And this week has seen the company taking to the streets of London to promote its forthcoming May 26 debut. A banana stand (“There’s always money in the banana stand” is a recurring phrase in the madcap comedy show)  has been popping up around the capital and will head off on tour elsewhere and Thursday night saw a red carpet premiere taking place for the event in London’s Leicester Square…

Recruitment news now and Lionsgate has appointed a new product manager. Susie Bould, formerly at digital agency ThinkJam, had already worked on Lionsgate campaigns for the likes of The Hunger Games during her four-year stint at the company and starts on Monday May 15. Commenting on her appointment, Lionsgate’s Marie-Claire Benson said: “We're looking forward to Susie joining us on Monday. She has worked with Lionsgate already on a number of theatrical campaigns whilst working agency-side, and was highly recommended to me by several colleagues. Her passion for film and track record of successful and creative digital marketing campaigns made her the ideal choice to complement the talents of the home entertainment division."
Acquisition news and Clear Vision has been hard at work again, ahead of the company’s trip to Cannes to look at potentially picking up titles at this year’s film market. This week’s news concerns a brace of titles, with the independent picking up the rights to Eden, a tale of human trafficking with the victim ending up in Las Vegas, and the wonderfully titled Chilean grindhouse flick Bring Me The Head Of the Machine Gun Woman. The former has been signed for the UK and France, the latter for the UK and numerous other European and Middle East territories. Eden is due in September on DVD after a July theatrical bow, while Bring Me The Head Of The Machine Gun Woman will arrive at cinemas in September before moving on to home entertainment the following month. Both will be backed by substantial marketing, including TV, more on this in the months to follow. Clear Vision’s Gil Garagnon said: “The signing of those two feature films illustrates Clear Vision's new direction. The company is continuing to bring premium brands such as My Little Pony or Power Rangers to Home Entertainment, while developing a strong portfolio of movies that really stand out from the crowd and for which we exploit all rights, across multiple platforms and several territories.”
More acquisitions now and Eureka has announced a high profile acquisition for its lauded Masters Of Cinema imprint. The award-winning Sundance hit Computer Chess comes from director Andrew Bujalski, the man behind the mumblecore genre. It will arrive on Blu-ray and DVD early in 2014 after festival appearances and a theatrical release later this year. Eureka md Ron Benson said: “Computer Chess is an audacious, poignant, and entertaining movie. It’s a rare film indeed that has the capability of appealing not only to general audiences, but to hardcore film buffs, to video-game enthusiasts, to chess mavens, to science lovers, to folk who are mesmerised by ‘retro’ design in all its forms — and to anyone who’s interested in how we collectively made our way from that earliest 1980s ‘digital era’ all the way up to the period of the iPhone and of the iPad. Audiences who took interest in the smash-hit retro-gaming documentary The King of Kong — not to mention anyone who has a warm place in their heart for Robert Altman’s classic ensemble film Nashville — will fall head-over-heels with Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess.” We’ll have the trailer and more on this, including a great comment from Bujalski himself, on our website shortly…

And wheeze from Studiocanal pushing its vast catalogue. The company is appealing for lost footage from the classic horror film The Wicker Man to help mark its 40th anniversary this year. Plans include a definitive home entertainment version of the film and the company is trying to track down footage long thought lost after making a public appeal. Director Robin Hardy said: “"I never thought that, after forty years, they would still be finding lost fragments of my film, we thought all of The Wicker Man had gone up in flames, but fragments keep turning up and the hunt goes on." Studiocanal’s John Rodden added: “"The Wicker Man is not only a great horror film; it is a true classic that grows in stature as the years pass. We’re now appealing to the public to help us create the most definitive version possible.”

“This is just the beginning. We’ll be rolling paid channels out more broadly in the coming weeks as a self-service feature for qualifying partners. And as new channels appear, we'll be making sure you can discover them, just as we've been helping you find and subscribe to all the channels you love across YouTube. Just as the partner program empowered creators to take their channels to the next level, we look forward to seeing how this great community of creators moves ahead with a new way to reach the fan communities that made their channels a hit.”
A YouTube statement launching its paid-for subscription channel
Another week, another storming performance from Iron Man 3, as the title racked up another hefty sum, taking its total to almost £25 million. According to experts, including sometime Raygun contributor Charles Gant among them, believe that if it follows precedent the third sequel will end up with a total box office haul of more than £40 million, double that of its predecessor in the franchise. Other new entries included family tale All Stars (£563,563), Pedro Almodovar’s I’m So Excited (£310,908) and Dead Man Down (£294,125).
For those that hadn’t noticed, it’s Cannes film festival time and among those showing their wares in the market will be Altitude, the new sales and production company which includes former Optimum chief Will Clarke among its founders. It has announced five new films it will be unveiling, taking in Get Santa, a family comedy starring Jim Broadbent; Beyond The Edge, a 3D documentary charting Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Everest; 47 Meters Down, a shark attack feature directed by Storage 24 director Johannes Roberts; thriller Tiger House and, one that we’re looking forward to, The Hooligan Factory, a comedy taking off football hooligan films, a genre ripe for spoofing. It joins an already busy slate from the ever-growing company… Clarke said: ““Altitude’s first year has phenomenally exciting as we are working with filmmakers who have highly original and ambitious projects. Our second film, Jabbar Raisani’s Outpost 37, is about to start filming and we are looking forward to showing distributors first-ever footage on five of our projects.”
More homegrown news now and we were hugely excited by the news that, following in a long line of British TV comics making the transition to feature films, Harry Hill is set to star in his own film, the cunningly entitled The Harry Hill Movie. Co-stars will include Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Matt Lucas, Entertainment, aka EV, is backing the film…
This week’s 50 Shades film rumour… Director Joe Wright, he of Atonement and Hanna fame, among others (as well as being a former lighting and visuals man for The Chemical Brothers) is said to be in the frame to helm the much-talked about film…
We’ve been breaking stories as they happen again this week, with news of the BVA figures, Friday releases and lots more. Follow us on
Starring Paddy Considine and some others (redressing the balance for the number of people who’ve missed him out when this Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost collaboration)…
The best trailers you'll see this week: 

Insert pirate DVD gag here:
Old joke alert: It’s a film about that racing driver, Niki, er…
This week’s Red Band trailer, it’s a Coen Brothers film too…
So, how do you butle then?