NEWSLETTER :: June 17 2010

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It Was A Good Week For... Dads, or at least it will be on Sunday. It appears as if home entertainment is back on the present list, judging by sales... 
It Was A Bad Week For... Well, while business was not hugely down week on week, it's still not brilliant when you look at the year on year figures. And with the sunshine being a key factor and good weather predicted, who knows. Oh, and there's still (at least) two more England games to go...

So, how was it for you? We all know that the World Cup has proved to be a bit, er, lacklustre in footballing terms, and for the England team too (although there was, of course,Celtic joy at England's woes), but how has it affected business? Well, there was no slowdown in sales of bloke-related fare – both Warner's Invictus and Icon's Edge Of Darkness were reported to be selling well and much of the upward movement in sales this week came from dad-friendly titles ahead of Father's Day on Sunday. Last week saw some strong performers, such as Optimum's duo of Ponyo and A Prophet, but sales trailed off towards the end of the week, as the tournament kicked off on Friday and the nation readied itself for another mediocre England outing on Saturday night. Optimum's Mikey Ellis said: "We had decent results last week with Ponyo and A Prophet, especially considering the drop off towards the end of the week due to the football mania. Ponyo had a similar week 1 to past Ghibli titles Spirited Away and Tales From Earthsea and A Prophet had a box office conversion of over 10k per £1million taken at the box office, which probably would have been higher had it not been for the World Cup." According to The Official Charts Company, there was no discernible week on week difference before and after the kick-off, with no consistent pattern emerging.

One thing did appear to be certain this week, however, and that's the fact that Father's Day appeared to be having a positive effect, with titles such as the aforementioned Edge Of Darkness and Invictus enjoying strong sales. The Official Charts Company's Martin Talbot said: "What is clear is that Father’s Day is certainly helping maintain the level of the market, with many of the fastest rising and best selling titles being targeted at that group, including Invictus and Edge Of Darkness, which are leading the way at one and two at the moment, and American Dad and Crazy Heart which are going to enter elsewhere in the top 20. The Road, Defiance, Law-Abiding Citizen, 2012 and Gran Torino are catalogue titles which are also seeing a boost."
One title enjoying a strong start this week was Manga's latest Naruto Shippenden box Set 1. The title shifted almost 1,500 units on its first day of release this week, buoyed by web-based pre-order sales. The release comes as Manga moves into its busy season for anime product – the company traditionally enjoys sales just as strong, if not higher, in the summer months as in the Q4 period. This summer will also see the label continuing to move into live action fare. Its slate of non-anime titles, albeit ones with a similar flavour to its core product, includes Bangkok Ninjas (July 26), The Lone Ninja (August 9) and By The Will Of Genghis Khan (August 23). Manga's Jerome Mazandarani said: "Naruto Shippuden is our Ben 10 Alien Force-style reboot. The first ever Naruto DVD release from Manga in August 2006 sold 2,500 units, so it's heartening to see that we are very close to matching this historic peak four years later and with this, our 30th Naruto DVD release. Amazing."
Meanwhile, it's been another busy week over at The Raygun website,, with features going up about last night's Zombie Women Of Satan party hosted by Revolver, a look at Momentum's painstaking research into its sleeve for Youth In Revolt and even some classic old HMV store pictures. Have a look here

This Friday sees the latest Industry Trust "You Make The Movies" trailer cum advertisement hitting cinema screens. Aping Reservoir Dogs, directed by Steve Bendelack of The League Of Gentlemen fame and produced by Creative Partnership, it's the third of the series to be aired at multiplexes this year. Despite only going live this week, the ad has already picked up a prestigious Golden Trailer award (see below) at this week's ceremony for Most Innovative Advertising For A Brand/Product (where it went up against another Industry Trust ad, among others). The ongoing programme, which thanks the audience for going down a legitimate route and buying a cinema ticket (or Blu-ray or DVD), thus supporting the UK film and TV industry, has already appeared to have a positive effect – the trailers make audiences twice as likely to purchase legal content. Liz Bales, director-general of the Industry Trust, said: “The You Make The Movies trailers form part of a long-term education drive by the industry to show consumers the very positive impact they have on the future of film and TV when they support legal content and respect copyright – and thank all those that choose to do so. This kind of public education campaign can complement the Government’s plans to introduce legal measures to tackle online copyright infringement, by inspiring consumers to want to choose legal content formats." See the ad here:

More on anti-piracy news, as blinkbox this week said it was mightily pleased with last week's Full Stream Ahead initiative, which offered £20 worth of free credit to anyone who signed up to the online service (see last week's newsletter), in a bid to show how easy it is to stream and download films legally. Although the actual figures are not being revealed, blinkbox chief Michael Cornish told The Raygun that the number of new members ran to the "tens of thousands" – anywhere between 20,000 and 100,000. Anywhere within that range makes, we believe, for mightily impressive reading. What's more, blinkbox was well placed to cope with the demand, meaning that few consumers will have encountered crashing or other problems, which could add up to a pleasurable, hassle-free experience and a swift return to the website now their credits and the week-long promotion is up. "We had a lot of people who were first time users sign up and had great feedback. The Film Council were happy, the BFI were happy, the studios were happy and hopefully a lot of consumers were happy too." Cornish added that the Full Stream Ahead came following a strong year for the studio that had seen it double in size, treble its revenue and add 50 per cent more titles. Cornish said he was pleased how the campaign focused on the positive aspects of legal downloads and streaming rather than the negative side and warning consumers about online piracy. "Piracy doesn't go away," he said. "But if you give them a quality service at a reasonable price that offers good value, they won't pirate." Now the challenge for blinkbox is to retain its new customers; Cornish aims to do that by adding more films and studios to its roster, as well as more free to watch, ad-supported television programming. Cornish said: "We'll be sending them a newsletter every week, with out latest offer and what we've added, what we're doing. We'll continue to offer incentives and part of it is to ensure we've got great programming."

Deal of the week on these shores has seen independent label Soda Pictures unveil a new sales and distribution agreement with Elevation Sales. The deal kicks off on July 1 and will include the likes of Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro, ballet doc Le Danse and political thriller Storm among its first batch of titles. Further down the line, Soda boasts an impressive slate that takes in Mammoth, directed by Luka Moodysson and starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams, as well as biopic Coco Chanel And Igor Stravinsky. Elevation md Graham Davidson said: "We're delighted to welcome Soda Pictures to the Elevation Sales fold. Eve and her team consistently release a refreshing and eclectic mix of the best of world cinema in the UK. Soda’s product will make a fantastic addition to the Elevation release slate." Soda md Eve Gabereau added: "We too are delighted to be working with Elevation. Their enthusiasm and success is highly infectious and we look forward to growing our brand and building our library with them."

They've been blowing out the candles (or candle) on the cake this week at Universal's indi VISION imprint, as the label celebrated its first birthday. In its first year the label, which aims to blend Universal's marketing nous with specialist, independent often leftfield fare, has sold almost 1 million units. And since kicking off with metal doc Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, it has built up a catalogue of more than 75 titles, taking in music, comedy, horror, world cinema and more. And it is set to go from strength to strength in its next year too – the label is becoming increasingly active in the acquisitions market, picking up titles such as Doors documentary When You're Strange, Cherrybomb, starring Harry Potter's Rupert Grint and also a director's cut of The Lawnmower Man. Indi VISION's Samantha Haycock said: "We would not have achieved this success without tremendous support from our customers, traditional and non-traditional, over the past year. From online to high street, grocers to general retailers, we've had amazing set up and it's exciting to see that independent film is growing in sales and stature."

It's been a busy time at High Fliers recently, with the rental to retail distributor inking a plethora of details giving the indie more than enough product to see it through well into 2011. The recent batch of deals have seen it taking in a wealth of different product, from more arthouse fare to commercial horror fare. The company is eyeing theatrical and limited platform theatrical releases for some of the titles. There's plenty of horror; the slate now includes 13 Hours, starring Tom Felton from the Harry Potter franchise and lads' mag fave Gemma Atkinson; Blood Night – The Legend Of Mary Hatchet (reminiscent of an old horror such as Prom Night, said High fliers' acquisitions supremo Tom Stewart); a rave turned nightmare flick Sweat Shop (this looks ace, we reckon) and Travellers, which looks like a distinctly British take on Deliverance. It's not just horror though, the current favourite DTV genre – dragon films – is represented by Adventures Of A Dragonslayer, which should pull in a wider family audience on the back of DreamWorks' How To Train Your Dragon; a big budget musical comedy Soul Man, the last film starring Bernie Mac before his untimely death, appearing alongside Samuel L Jackson and a clutch of political thrillers n the shape of Balibo (a Killing Fields-style tale of journalists gone missing in Indonesia), Silent Army, about child soldiers in Uganda, and The Stoning Of Soraya M, set in Iran. Stewart said: "
Rental continues to be a strong performer for us and we've had some genuine retail hits this year too, giving us the best of both worlds. These forthcoming titles will help put us in an even stronger position."

More acquisitions news, this time from our pals at independent label Terracotta Distribution. The independent has acquired Japanese undead action in the form of Big T*ts Zombie (our asterisk, added not because we're prurient, but for the more sensitive firewalls). The 3D film, also known as Strippers Vs Zombies (in all honesty, we can't decide which we prefer), stars Asian adult superstars as part of a gang of five bored strippers who "unwittingly unleash the army of the undead" – don't they all – before having to save the world using their martial arts skills. The film will be released theatrically in 3D (the old red and green method, meaning it will be DVD-friendly) ahead of its home entertainment release shortly afterward. It's the fifth title from the fledgling Terracotta label (for more see here ) and founder Joey Leung said: "We are delighted to be handling this title. There is a naturally large audience for zombie films in the UK; in this case, zombies plus fighting strippers makes a wonderful pair."

We've already given one or two updates on the big Q4 comedy market and this week PIAS Comedy, the arm of the distribution company that specialises in stand-up comedy, has unveiled its DVD line-up for the last part of 2010. It has half a dozen or so titles lined up for release, an impressive show seeing as the rebranded DVD arm of PIAS (the distributor formerly known as Vital) has been in existence for less than 12 months). PIAS Comedy chief Andy Townsend said: "We always thought PIAS should be doing more comedy and there was a gap in the market for an independent alternative to the majors." Arguably its biggest title is a DVD bow for Brit comic Richard Herring's Hitler Moustache show, an October release. It will be aided by Herring's own continued high press profile – his How Not To Grow Up book has garnered him even more coverage in recent months – and the title sees Herring attempt to reclaim this facial hair-style from the dictator ("He's developed a whole new audience outside of that [Mock The Week route]," said Townsend). Its line-up will also include US comic Greg Giraldo ("A very edgy American stand-up.") and Scot Danny Bhoy ("We'll be focusing on Scotland for our marketing"). Townsend added that PIAS Comedy was looking to sign further acts and would also be promoting talent in the UK, particularly from overseas, to help both its DVD releases and provide another revenue stream.

Meanwhile, the BFI is continuing its admirable efforts, with a series of Blu-ray bows being given to a quartet of classic titles that boast the involvement of some of Britain's finest directing talent, both past and present. Its August batch of titles, due on the 23rd of the month, pays tribute to the great directors, featuring the works of British auteur Jack Clayton, legendary film-maker Michael Powell, Brit turned Hollywood big player Tony Scott and arthouse favourite Peter Greenaway. All have been given the kind of treatment you'd expect from the BFI – Greenaway's A Zed And Two Noughts comes with a commentary and introduction from the helmer; Powell's early title The Edge Of The World is in a digitally restored version overseen by his widow (and long-time Martin Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker); Clatyon's The Innocents, a classic slice of British horror, features some of the director's earlier works and Scott's Loving Memory also adds some of his early shorts to the director's rarely seen early title. All will be supported by advertising in Sight And Sound, Guardian Guide, DVD Ad Blu-ray Review and Total Film, as well as a PR campaign.  The BFI's James Blackford said: "
We are very proud to be releasing High-Definition premieres of such seminal films as these. It's great to see the work of Britain's most cherished filmmakers represented in high-quality blu-ray editions."

More innovative marketing from the world cinema sector, after last week's Newsletter report on Third Window Films' London underground campaign for next week's Kakera release (see pix here). This time round, Second Run DVD is hosting a screening of its July 12 DVD release The Unpolished at the Renoir Cinema, in London. The event, held on June 28, will not only screen the German film looking at a dysfunctional family unit with drop-out parents, but host a Q&A with director Pia Marais. Second Run's Chris Barwick said: "All the titles we release are films we love and care about and want to share with others, so these screenings are important not only to raise awareness of our upcoming or existing DVD releases, but to give these extraordinary films a rare and deserving outing on the big screen. We are indebted to Curzon Cinemas for their support, without whom these one-off screenings would not be possible." For more ticket details, go to

Key staffers from WDSHE are planning to get on their bikes again to make the arduous 59 mile journey from London to Southend, all in the name of raising money for a good cause. Some 16 Disney staffers and their partners, led by general manager Anthony Peet alongside senior sales and marketing staff such as Philippe Roucoule and Jo Bladen, will take part in the event on Sunday July 18 as part of a year's worth of fundraising activity for Great Ormond Street Hospital children's charity GOSH. The team is aiming to raise £5,000 over the 12 months by taking part in numerous marathons, runs and cycle rides. To sponsor them, go to

"We have concluded that Redbox day-and-date rental activity has had minimal impact on our DVD sales." Paramount's worldwide president Dennis Maguire announcing that the studio will let US kiosk operator release films day and date with stores after spending 10 months researching the effect of kiosk business on DVD sales.     

While the blokes were sat at home or in the pub watching football, enough women, it appears, went out to see Sex And The City 2 at UK cinemas, helping it to a £1.5 million weekend haul and a total approaching £17.5 million. Letters To Juliet was another romantic high flier, taking in just shy of £800,000 in its opening weekend. The only other new entry was Momentum's cop title Brooklyn's Finest, which took nearly £500,000. StreetDance 3D, incidentally, has now passed the £10 million mark. In the US there was less of a worry over World Cup counter-programming, so the ongoing assault of the summer blockbusters continued, with The Karate Kid remake (almost $56 million) outdoing a television remake, The A-Team (approaching $26 million).

Barely has it opened at US cinemas and it's yet to hit these shores, but the aforementioned Karate Kid remake is already set for a sequel. Well, after taking that much in its opening frame, you'd have expected some further activity, but Sony is obviously striking while the iron is hot.

And more sequel news from the same studio, although this time with a slightly greater gap between the two. And it ties in with another of our key themes that appear week in week out in this column – comic books. Reports are circulating this week that a sequel is being planned for Ghost Rider, the Nicolas Cage-starring Marvel adaptation. The original wasn't a runaway success, but still performed well. The new title, Spirit Of Vengeance, has been written and Cage is now in negotiations with the studio, alongside Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Interestingly the rights to the franchise would have reverted to Marvel if no move was made by November this year, which may have hastened the decision...

Finally, more from our favourite gestating remake, Logan's Run. It appears this week as if Alex Garland, author and now screenwriter of some note (28 Days Later, Sunshine etc) has been approached to pen the script for this sci-fi remake. The new 3D version, which will refer to the original source novel rather than the Michael York and Jenny Agutter starring feature. It will be directed by Carl Erik Rinsch, a Ridley Scott protégé.      

Quick, time's running out to get anything in the post for your dad for Sunday... So why not try this video-related goodie we found this week. It's a bit basic, but it's a quick and easy promotional tool for Fox's American Dad release out this week – and it works.

We at The Raygun ( were welcomed on board by HMV's excellent Get Closer feed this week ( and their regular posts are a little trove of information, offers and great pix and content too. We've also been keeping an eye on the Industry Trust, via

Connoisseurs of the art of the trailer will, like us, spend about a week on this website:
This is brilliant. We could watch this for hours. Check the website too, has an equally dreamy quality...

Second trailer for this Bruckheimer outing, everyone, especially Nic Cage and Alfred Moline, seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves...
Another second trailer, this time for the multi-starred actioner...

Second trailer for the Will Ferrell voiced CGI outing...


12 (Action Extreme)
Beautiful People (2 entertain)
Beverly Hills 90210 (Paramount)
Black Jack (BFI)
Blessed (Momentum)
Chocky’s children (Revelation)
Chop Socky Chooks (2 entertain)
Cult Spaghetti Westerns (Argent Films)
Dynasty Season 5 (Paramount)
Extraordinary Measures (SPHE)
Father Of My Children (Artificial Eye)
The Girl Next Door (High Fliers)
Le Grand Jeu (Eureka Masters Of Cinema)
Heimat (Second Sight)
Heimat 2 (Second Sight)
The Hungarian Masters Collection (Second Run DVD)
In The Pit (Network)
The Island (Artificial Eye)
JAG Season 8 (Paramount)
Kakera A Piece Of Our Life (Third Window)
Kingdom Series 3 (Acorn)
King Of Queens Season 8 (Paramount)
The Last Station (Optimum) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Life During Wartime (Artificial Eye) (rental)
Luther (2 entertain)
MacGyver (Paramount)
The Manageress (Acorn)
Medics The Complete First Series (Network)
Medics The Complete Second Series (Network)
Melrose Place Season 5 (Paramount)
Micmacs (E1 Entertainment)
Mulan (Cine Asia)
Numb3rs (Paramount)
National Geographic Africa’s Lost Eden (Fremantle)
National Geographic Vampire Forensics/Is it Real: Vampires (Fremantle)
National Geographic Guns, Germs and Steel (Fremantle)
National Geographic Planet Carnivore Set (Fremantle)
National Geographic Planet Carnivore: Great White Sharks (Fremantle)
National Geographic Planet Carnivore: Lion (Fremantle)
National Geographic Planet Carnivore: King Bear/Ice Bear (Fremantle)
No One Knows About Persian Cats (Network)
The Old Guys Series 1 (2 entertain)
Playing Shakespeare (Acorn)
The Princess And The Frog (WDSHE)
Raggy Dolls Series 1 (Revelation)
Rectuma (HB Films)
Samson And Delilah (Trinity Films) (DVD and Blu-ray)
She. A Chinese (Optimum)
Somebody Help Me (OMG)
Two Thirteen (High Fliers)
The War Lord (Eureka)
WWE Elimination Chamber (Clear Vision)
WWE Hart & Soul (Clear Vision)
Wild Target (Second Sight)
Zombie Women Of Satan  (Revolver)

Ajami (Vertigo)
Hierro (Optimum)
Journey To Mecca (SK Films)
Killers (Lionsgate)
MacGruber (Universal)
Our Family Wedding (Fox)
Please Give (Sony)
Raavan (Reliance Big Entertainment)
Rashomon (bfi)
Trash Humpers (Warp Films/Alcove Entertainment)
Wild Grass (New Wqve Films)
Wild Target (Entertainment)
Breathless (Optimum)
The Collector (Icon)
Get Him To The Greek (Universal)
Good Hair (Icon)
Tetro (Soda)
Villa Amalia (Peccadillo)
Whatever Works (Warner)
When In Rome (Disney)
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