JUDGE SAYS BT MUST BLOCK PIRATE SITE
REACTION TO LANDMARK RULING
BELIEBERS LINE UP AT HMV…
…AND OWLS TAKE TO THE STREETS
PIG BRINGS HOME THE BACON ON DVD
INSIDIOUS SCARES UP A STORM
FRIGHTFEST PERFECT LAUNCHPAD FOR HORROR
KALEIDOSCOPE'S FEELING LONELY…
…AND TRIUMPHS AT CHARITY GOLF BASH
BFI GETS LUCKY…
AND PUSHES ITS FLIPSIDE RANGE
AMAZON PUSHES THE RIGHT BUTTONS
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
AT THE MOVIES
SITE OF THE WEEK
TWEET OF THE WEEK
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
It Was A Good Week For... Paramount with its Justin Bieber and Rango releases starting brightly…
It Was A Bad Week For… Newzbin2, BT and pirates everywhere…
The hot news topic of the week was what has been described as a "landmark ruling" in the high court that saw the country's biggest Internet service provider (ISP) BT forced to block access for its customers to illegal file-sharing website Newzbin2. Many experts believe that the decision has paved the way for sites to be blocked by other ISPs in the UK in a bid to halt, or at least slow, digital piracy. The court action was brought by the Motion Picture Association of America, the US studios' trade body and is hugely significant for our business. High court judge Justice Arnold said: "In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newzbin2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes.[It] knows that the users of Newzbin2 include BT subscribers, and it knows those users use its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin2." The MPA's European chief Chris Marcich said: "This ruling from Justice Arnold is a victory for millions of people working in the UK creative industries and demonstrates that the law of the land must apply online. This court action was never an attack on ISPs, but we do need their cooperation to deal with the Newzbin site, which continually tries to evade the law and judicial sanction." The MPA has been relentlessly pursuing Newzbin for some months, a previous ruling ordered the site to take down pirated material, but it went into administration and then resurfaced. BT's Simon Milner was quoted as saying: "[The judgment] is actually helpful and we welcome it because it clarifies a complex area of law and shows that rights holders can use the copyright laws in this country. It means they have to prove a site is infringing before [a] court and get a court order."
Elsewhere there was plenty of reaction to the ruling. BVA director general Lavinia Carey said: "This is a huge step for producers and distributors of video entertainment - but most importantly it is great for consumers. Half of feature films revenue and a third of the revenue of TV series and dramas come from video entertainment and it is this revenue which is taken into account when companies are deciding whether to green-light new productions. Put simply – without this revenue stream, many films and programmes wouldn’t be made. Copyright infringement, which costs the video entertainment industry over £300 million a year, eats into the return on investment. It therefore not only reduces the value of the market and our contribution to the UK economy, but it also means fewer new projects are given the go-ahead, less high-quality content is created and ultimately viewers lose out. The decision today is a great step towards recognising the need to enable the legal use of digital video services, of which there are currently 44 in the UK from which audiences can access video content on many different devices, to flourish and grow. This way everyone benefits from a healthy video entertainment market.”
Predictably, the rest of the reacion to the news was as you'd expect: those on "our" side all welcomed it, the ISPs such as BT were forced to smile through gritted teeth that they too welcomed it, and pro-piracy groups and illegal downloaders masquerading as freedom of speech enthusiasts (and those on Twitter and all kinds of message boards) were scathing in their condemnation of Justice Arnold's words. The decision was published extensively in numerous national newspapers. Here's one sample reaction from the other side of the fence, from Loz Kaye of the Pirate Party UK: "This is a terrible day for ordinary British internet users. The judgement sets a worrying precedent for internet censorship. This is the thin end of a very large wedge. It also leaves the coalition's internet policy in disarray. It appears that our digital rights are to be determined by Hollywood, not parliament." For more see here. And for more guff from "Loz" (lolz at Loz) see here.
It's been a busy week for Paramount, with not one but two high profile releases hitting the shelves. First to arrive was Justin Bieber Never Say Never, which landed on the shelves in one store, HMV's flagship 150 Oxford Street shop, a day early, on Sunday. The retailer helped host a special launch event (as mentioned on last week's newsletter), and saw 500 plus Beliebers, as his fans are known), screaming in-store as a specially taped message from the heartthrob (mmm, he's so dreamy!) was aired. Events organised around it included a Bieber karaoke (sadly, we couldn't be there to witness it, as we were "busy"). Bieber himself tweeted details (and mentioned the DVD release too, obviously) on Sunday, urging fans to get down to the store, and it worked – some started queuing early in the morning. What's more, the event helped garner further interest and coverage for the already well-reviewed title, pictures of the screaming hordes appeared in Daily Mirror and The Sun the next day. Paramount's marketing director Lesley Henry said: "“We are incredibly excited to have successfully released Justin Bieber’s official Never Say Never documentary. His UK fans are hugely engaged and we’ve been running a social media/fan-engagement campaign throughout the period between theatrical and our home entertainment release - with regular updates to his 11 million Twitter followers and 33 million Facebook fans. We then revved up the hype to fever pitch hosting this fun, fan-event in HMV, Oxford Street. We have been really thrilled to see the amazing coverage in the press and the video has already been liked by over 20,000 fans on Justin’s Facebook page. Never Say Never has been selling out like hot cakes with conversion levels well above average for this genre."
Also from Paramount: it took out a bunch of owls and a mariachi band out on the streets of London this week to mark the release of Rango. Anyone familiar with the animated tale, voiced by Johnny Depp, will know that the owls are one of this excellent film's highlights. As well as drumming up support for the title on the streets (check this, possibly the funniest thing we've seen all week: http://www.facebook.com/RangoUK). They also visited central London media, including the likes of Empire, all of which created further noise about the release on websites and social media. Paramount's Lesley Henry said: "Rango has been ruffling feathers with our Mariachi owls creating havoc on the streets. We’re storming ahead on this title with sales well ahead of plan."
We'll have some images from both the events above online shortly, as well as a closer look at Film4 FrightFest and what it means to the industry; these will join a look at the BVA's Yearbook and our regular round-ups of screenings and events and the week's home entertainment coverage. See our website at www.theraygun.co.uk
Anyone who has re-school children will fully understand the lure of Peppa Pig (The Raygun's most junior correspondent is three and a half, and the day can't properly start until we've watched at least one episode of the programme), and the huge success of the franchise was further underlined this week as DVD sales for the series passed a landmark figure. Sales of eOne's releases have now sailed past the 5 million mark. What's arguably even more remarkable is the fact that 2 million of these have come in the last 12 months, showing its continued growth. In 2010, Peppa Pig titles (there are 14 in all) had a 23 per cent of the pre-school children's market. It is now the sixth bestselling pre-school franchise ever, a feat it has achieved in a mere six years. Creators Astley Baker Davies were presented with a special gold disc to mark the event by eOne director of home entertainment Jon Bourdillon, who said: "We’re absolutely thrilled to be celebrating this incredible milestone for the Peppa Pig brand. Five million DVD sales in six years, 2 million of those in the last 12 months alone which is a clear demonstration of the growing popularity of the brand, the accelerated consumer demand for product and the future potential of Peppa Pig on DVD.” Producer Phil Davies said: "We can’t quite believe that Peppa Pig has sold over 5 million DVDs. We’re extremely proud of everyone who works on the show and we’re delighted that the series has been embraced and continues to entertain so many families."
At the opposite end of the scale from Peppa, is Momentum's forthcoming horror Insidious. The film carries great word of mouth (it really is a genuinely scary flick) and also the kudos of being the highest grossing horror film at UK cinemas this year. It also follows the likes of Paranormal Activity as a genuinely creepy movie that eschews gore, preferring instead the threat of the unknown. Momentum is currently putting its marketing together, more on this in the next week or two, but as the company's Clare Dundrow said: "Our objective is to build on the success of the theatrical release and the fact its the biggest horror film of the year, and to make Insidious the must own horror film of the year on DVD and Blu Ray. We'll work up the menace surrounding the film and ask the question 'dare you watch it alone'? We're aiming to literally scare people into buying Insidious in a number of ways, and reminding people Insidious is from the creators of Saw and Paranormal Activity which to the aficionados, is a key element."
While we're on horror, the key event on any fans' calendar, the annual Film4 FrightFest weekender, is looming large on the horizon, it is due to take place in London's Leicester Square over the late August bank holiday weekend. The all-encompassing horror festival is becoming an increasingly important launchpad for theatrical and home entertainment releases, especially in the DTV sector. Loads of distributors and familiar faces will be showing off their wares, with Anchor Bay screening a whopping five films at the three day event. As co-director Greg Day said: "The event is very important [for launching and supporting DTV releases], as traditionally a lot of horror titles rely on the home entertainment market for their very survival. Plus, the way the retail side is going, with supermarket chains dominating volume of sales, the distributors value the weight of critical awareness we can bring to a title." Sadly, we're away that weekend, although our regular screening correspondent Alex Kidd is certain to be reporting from the event. In the meantime, for more on the films on show, see here.
The closing night film at FrightFest is Kaleidoscope's A Lonely Place To Die, starring Melissa George and directed by Julian (Rise Of The Footsoldier) Gilbey. The film will open on September 9, and is followed a few days later by the DVD and Blu-ray release for Michael Flatley Returns As Lord Of The Dance, featuring the twinkle-toed fella dancing across the boards once again. As Kaleidoscope's Spencer Pollard said: "[A Lonely Place To Die] will be our biggest theatrical to date. We're hugely excited by this release and we're just finalising plans which we should be able to announce in the next couple of weeks, which will take this film to an even wider audience on release. On September 12, we also have the small matter of the DVD and Blu Ray release of Michael Flatley. This will be supported by a heavyweight TV and national press campaign and PR from the Lord himself. It's going to be a hugely busy six weeks, but we're very excited about this period, in addition to the upcoming Q4. For a team of our size to handle everything we have coming up, we'll have to stay focused, but we definitely won't be having to find things to fill our day." More on the company's Q4 line-up soon…
Sticking with the company, congratulations to Kaleidoscope and director of marketing Adam Sergeant, who won team and individual awards respectively at the annual DVD Masters golf tournament. The charity day, organised by Gardners' Garry Elwood, saw the Kaleidoscope gang pip Technicolor at the post for the team competition, sponsored by Brad Aspess' Rarewaves. Nearest the line was won by Technicolor's Simon George. Elwood said: "It was great to see some old stalwarts like Nick Hill, Ian Hall, Russell Phillips, Phil Crace and Clive Allcott there. We hope to have raised a few grand on the raffle and auction. We auctioned a walk on part for two in a new movie being shot in 2012. All monies raised will go to Haven House Children's Hospice and to help AV Pictures colleague Gavin Braxton who needs speech therapy." Elwood is now handing over the reins for organising the event to another familiar industry face, Phil Crace, after more than 10 years. I'm sure many will join us in applauding him for all his efforts.
The BFI continues its strong run in 2011 with the August release of a pair of classic British comedies on its Adelphi Collection imprint. Both feature legendary British comics and feature early screen performances by then young talent who went on to become household names. You Lucky People stars music hall comic Tommy Trinder (it famously became his catchphrase) and a young Rolf Harris, while Fun At St Fanny's, starring Cardew (The Cad) Robinson and Ronnie Corbett, among others. The BFI's Sam Dunn said: "We're very excited to be releasing these latest Adelphi titles. Both films are great fun to watch and are jam-packed with familiar faces, some of which belong to celebrities, like Ronnie Corbett or Rolf Harris, who are at the very beginning of their careers. The original film materials for both titles are preserved in the BFI National Archive, and it's always a pleasure to bring films such as these back into the light where they belong."
Also from the BFI: the organisation has launched a Facebook page for its wonderful imprint Flipside (pretty much our favourite label in the business right now). Aimed at fans of the label, which boasts lost classics of British cinema, much of it from the 1960s and set in and around swinging London, it is aimed at pulling more people into the range of titles. As thr BFI's Sam Dunn said: "The page has just gone up, but it will grow to include a load of info about the weird and wonderful films that we've got lined up in our exciting, ever-expanding Flipside range." You can see it here.
Fresh from its acquisition of LOVEFiLM and recently announced sales figures, online retailer Amazon ha been shoppping again, acquiring Pushbutton, a company that develops apps for next-gen interactive televisions and connected devices. Amazon's vice president of European retail Greg Geeley said: "Pushbutton has a strong reputation for delivering amazing user experiences on connected devices. They were instrumental in helping launch the LOVEFiLM player through a variety of devices, and we look forward to helping them continue to innovate on behalf of customers." Pushbutton's Paula Byrne added: "With Amazon and LOVEFiLM’s support, we look forward to offering our clients, as well as their customers, even more ways to access digital services in the future."
EVENT OF THE WEEK
To The Ivy (where, get us, we ended up twice this week) with PR agency Romley Davies, to help celebrate the company's third birthday; it has established itself as one of the industry's biggest outfits in a short space of time. Its clients, such as Momentum, Universal Playback, Icon, Artificial Eye and Warner rubbed shoulders with journalists and representatives from the likes of Empire, mymovies.net and, er, The Raygun. Romley Davies' Vanessa Davies said: "We are delighted to be celebrating our third birthday and wanted to say thank you to all our clients and friends who have been so supportive. We are very excited about the future and have many exciting announcements up our sleeve so watch this space."
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"The decision is vital for the content sector as it continues in its efforts to create a sustainable and safe environment for distribution of legal content online. Following this judgment, other websites that are focused on infringing copyright may now be susceptible to blocking actions. UK content owners have just established a powerful weapon to assist them in protecting their copyrights online."
The MPA's lawyer Simon Baggs from law firm Wiggin on this week's decision…
AT THE MOVIES
It may be the final film in the franchise, but the public aren't suffering from fatigue yet, as Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 continues to power ahead at the UK box office. Its performance is outstripping that of many of its predecessors. After its second weekend (and first full week), Warner's release has now taken £44.3 million and has, by the time you read this, almost certainly overtaken The King's Speech as the year's biggest earner. The latest from Disney and Pixar, Cars 2, took just over £3.5 million in its opening frame, followed by Horrible Bosses with more than £2 million. Beginners was the week's other new entry, with £146,096.
Get set for another Harry Potter movie. "What?" we hear you cry, with scores of exclamation marks afterwards. Well, a remake of mid 1980s straight to video cult flick Troll is being made and, for those that don't remember, it features characters called Harry Potter Jr and his dad, Harry Potter. Somehow, we suspect it may not do as well as the current franchise…
Some TV into film news now, and it åppears as if HBO's excellent Hollywood-based comedy series Entourage could be following the S*x And The City route and heading for the big screen after its run on television finishes. The series is currently scheduled to halt after the eighth series ends, but executive producer Mark Wahlberg this week is reported to have said that he is desperate to do it, particularly in the wake of the success of raunchier comedies such as The Hangover, which are similar in tone to the series. "If I had to finance it myself, I would do it," he said. "We’re going to do it, the questing is when and how quickly. Hopefully we'll come down with an idea and make it happen."
Anyone familiar with Nic Cage's CV or filmography knows that there are only two types of Cage films – great and complete stinkers (some even speculate that you can judge which it will be dependent on his hairline or style). Whatever, his name still shifts units, so we've got our fingers crossed for the impending Frozen Ground, which will star Cage has a copy and John Cusack as the serial killer Robert Hansen. Based on a true story, Hansen was a particularly nasty type who captured women and after abusing them then took them into the Alaskan wilds, set them free and hunted them down…
SITE OF THE WEEK
Is the disc dead? This bloke thinks so. Need cheering up? Try five reasons why DVDs won't disappear yet, from some Mac experts…
TWEET OF THE WEEK
As well as spending too much time looking at Justin Bieber-related announcments (see story above), we've also been putting up 140 word reviews of everything we watch… Follow us on www.twitter.com/theraygun
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
Everytime we stick up a Red Band trailer, it's our most clicked through item of the week, so here's another one, for the wonderfully titled Knights Of Badassdom.
Oh, go on, here's another then, this time for a film that Icon has the UK rights for and we can't wait to see, it comes with great word of mouth…
And this one has a great buzz about it too; forthcoming from Optimum:
And the website for it is here, incidentally, www.kill-list.com
Right, forget about this summer, as the 2012 blockbuster previews continue to arrive, here's the latest:
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