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It Was A Good Week For Retailers, as August is out of the way and the big films start arriving on Monday…

It Was A Bad Week For… Apologies to anyone who either received multiple copies of The Raygun on Friday or none until Saturday. The fault was with our mailing website, nothing to do with The Raygun itself. Apologies all the same

The Bank Holiday weekend saw horror film fans’ biggest event on their calendar, the annual Film4 FrightFest spectacle taking place at the Empire, Leicester Square in the heart of London. As ever, it wasn’t just about theatrical releases, there were plenty of forthcoming home entertainment wares being showcased too. For distributors, as we’ve oft noted here before, it’s the perfect platform to launch their forthcoming titles, with the hordes of devotees attending able to effectively make or break a film, or at least create a priceless buzz before its official release. It was good too to see retailers out in attendance at the event, casting their eyes over films due to arrive in their stores in the coming months. We’ve got a full round-up of opinion from some of those involved and some attending going up on our website over the weekend, but in the meantime, here’s a few reactions from some of those present. “This year's record attendance and the amount of screenings that sold out further vindicates the growing popularity of the genre and the fact that filmmakers are being more adventurous and diverse,” said one of the four FrightFest figureheads, Greg Day. “It makes for a healthy market-place.”
And some retail reaction too. Here’s Tim Scaping from HMV on his FrightFest: “It was a strong line-up this year, and two of the best were saved until last. The American remake of We Are What We Are improves upon the Mexican original while festival closer Big Bad Wolves is one of the films of the year. Sharply written, co-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado balance humour and tension superbly, especially given the troubling subject matter. Other highlights included Cheap Thrills, which features excellent performances and a great script, V/H/S/2 (Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto's segment in particular was a highlight of the weekend), You're Next, a home invasion horror that keeps you guessing, and No One Lives offered suitably bloody, B-Movie thrills.” Sainsbury’s Daniel Hood said: “It was another quality year from Frightfest. With a strong mix of great and good films, bad films seem to have been in short supply this year. Personal standouts were No One Lives, You're Next, Big Bad Wolves, Odd Thomas and 100 Bloody Acres. But the winner for me was Cheap Thrills, a disturbing and unpredictable psychological horror. I haven't met anyone who has anything bad to say about it.”

We’ll have more comment and thoughts from the event up on our website shortly. We'll have some input from the likes of Metrodome, Anchor Bay and long-time attendees, horror aficionados and writers…

It’s been a big week for announcements of forthcoming Q4 releases, with at least two of the summer’s bigger titles going up live for pre-order, or on the verge of it. Both are homegrown comedies, their stars borne out of UK television, and each has plenty of potential. We’ll start with Studiocanal’s Alan Partridge film, Alpha Papa, a gifting certainty come Q4. The title goes up for pre-order on Monday September 2, ahead of its release three months later on December 2, a date that the company is aiming to make the day of the Partridge. Studiocanal’s Mikey Ellis said; “Following our number one hit at the UK box office and the fantastic reviews, the focus for this title is very much on the home entertainment release. Our strategy is to go to pre-order as soon as we possible to start building orders with the key Partridge audience before broadening it out with an event status campaign in the lead up to Christmas to create the number one home entertainment gift this year. We’re following in the footsteps of other British comedies that have had outstanding conversions by releasing at the same time of year, The Inbetweeners and Keith Lemon. I don't think we've had a more perfect gifting proposition for Christmas – and we distribute Santa Claus the Movie.”
Meanwhile, Universal has unleashed one of its big Q4 feature films for pre-order, with the latest from the trio of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright, The World’s End, going live today (August 30), with a release date slated for November 25. The film will be available in a slew of different SKUs. These include standard DVD and Blu-ray versions, a Blu-ray Steelbook (no big title this autumn is complete without a Steelbook version), while there are also both BD and DVD box sets containing Pegg, Wright and Frost’s self-styled Cornetto trilogy. The Blu-ray SKUs will contain more than three hours’ worth of bonus features, including commentaries, deleted scenes and plenty more, with half of it exclusive to the high definition format. Expect more on both of these titles in the coming months.

Talking of big releases, the arrival of September also signals the start of the blockbuster season in terms of home entertainment releases, with plenty coming to market starting with Star Trek Into Darkness on Monday September 2, with Disney’s Iron Man 3 set to arrive a week later, on September 9. In the case of the former, Paramount is set to launch the film with a live tweetalong screening at a rooftop cinema in Peckham, south east London, on Monday night. The studio has teamed up with the Rooftop Film Club to host the screening, encouraging all the attendees to put their opinions and much more out on social media throughout the event. Follow us at for more on the event on the night…
To the swish St Martin's Hotel in St Martin's Lane, London, to meet comedy star Kevin Hart. The US comic was fresh from hosting the MTV VMAs and in town to promote his feature length, live stand-up outing, Let Me Explain, which follows him on the similarly named tour, taking in 10 countries and 80 cities. The film opens at cinemas today (Friday) ahead of Lionsgate's home entertainment release in November. Hart's a huge star in the States and his popularity is growing at a startling rate in this country too (his last live date in the UK was at London's vast O2 arena). We got to meet an extremely affable Hart, who confessed to something that few of his contemporaries will ever do – he loves doing press. All of which will certainly help with Lionsgate's release. The company’s Marie Claire Benson said: “Kevin has been a real hit during his visit so far, receiving standing ovations at three events, including the Apple Store earlier in the week, and selling out the O2 for the second time with his Q&A and screening at the arena in Greenwich this Friday. We're pleased to be showcasing his talent this summer in time for a home entertainment release in Q4, perfect for the Special Interest gifting market.”

Speaking of Lionsgate, the company has also this week unveiled its Q4 slate, with some interesting titles on the way from the thriving supplier. Its October slate kicks off with the physical release of Bachelorette, the post-Bridesmaids comedy; alongside Snowflake, an animated adventure as well as a brace of seasonal animated titles collected together in one pack, containing Paul McCartney’s Frog Chorus on one and How The Toys Saved Christmas on the other. There’s a big name cast, headed by Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton, in romcom The Big Wedding; thriller ATM, set in a bank cash machine room (it’s penned by the man behind Buried), sci-fi creature feature Spiders and creatures of a different kind in animated wolves sequel Alpha & Omega 2. In another wildly eclectic shift, this is followed by Jason Statham starrer Hummingbird, and a second sequel to football hooligan franchise Green Street, Never Back Down. The month is closed out by the wonderfully named From Dusk Till Dawn T*tty Twister Edition (name asterisked for firewall reasons, not because we’re prudish about this box set of the Robert Rodridiguez and Quentin Tarantino collaboration), Anger Management Volume 2 and Rapture-palooza. November has fitness in the shape of Be Fit In 90, with Olympics competitor Samantha Clayton and war hero Garret Amerine working through a 90-day regime; the ever-wonderful TV series Mad Men Season 6; Trap For Cinderella; the Martin Scorsese endorsed Scandinavian crime thriller Easy Money; Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest Ryan Gosling starrer and the aforementioned Kevin Hart film, Let Me Explain. The year is closed out with Lovelace, the recently released at theatrical biopic of the adult superstar. Commenting on the Q4 line-up, Lionsgate’s Marie Claire Benson said: ““You can expect a stylish Q4 from Lionsgate, with Mad Men Season 6, Only God Forgives, Martin Scorsese’s Easy Money and Hummingbird, to name a few. The marketing campaigns are designed to ensure they resonate with their audiences, and with our historical success rate in delivering exceptional conversion rates, we are confident that this will be a great Q4 for us.”
Retail news now and it’s already been discussed here and elsewhere in recent weeks, but next Friday (September 6) will see HMV owner Hilco officially returning Nipper to Ireland, with the opening of the first of four new Irish stores. The store, in Dublin’s Henry Street, was shuttered when the retailer slipped into administration at the start of 2013. Its reopening will be followed by three further stores, in Liffey Valley, Dundrum and the Crescent Shopping Centre in Limerick. Beyond that, Hilco is also planning to open 26 HMV stores within its Xtra-vision stores in Ireland. That retailer was saved from administration by Hilco earlier this year too. Hilco Capital chief executive Paul McGowan said: “We are thrilled to be able to bring HMV back to Ireland. The demand from consumers has been very strong since we acquired the business from the Receivers so it is gratifying to be able to get four stores up and running in such a short period of time. We will also be launching our new digital product in Ireland later in the year and have more exciting developments being announced in coming weeks.” Commenting on the Xtra-vision move, Hilco’s Ireland chief executive Larry Howard said: “The Xtra-vision, HMV and Hilco teams have been at full stretch in recent weeks finalising arrangements and store designs for‎ the new concession arrangements. We look forward to HMV once again becoming the home of entertainment retail in Ireland. We will also be making announcements next week regarding plans for the redemption of valid gift vouchers which were not honoured during the Receivership of the old HMV business prior to our ownership.”

Some news from LOVEFiLM and the company has this week celebrated passing more than 100,000 “likes” on Facebook, which, says the Amazon-owned company, makes it the most popular film and TV subscription service in the UK on the social network site. It also boasts almost 48,000 followers on Twitter. LOVEFiLM editor Helen Cowley said: “The LOVEFiLM Facebook page has become a community of people who enjoy discussing film and TV just as much as we do. We're really grateful for every one of our fans who have helped us grow into the UK's favourite film and TV subscription service on Facebook and wanted to create a little something special to say thank you - we hope they like it." To mark the occasion, the LOVEFiLM team put together this thank you note, see it here, it’s worth a look
Also from LOVEFiLM, the company’s Amazon parent has this week confirmed another pilot which is due to air on its Instant service in the US and LOVEFiLM over here. Maker Shaker Agency, aimed at six to 11-year-olds, follows the exploits of a group of young inventors. It will air next year and its future will be decided by LOVEFiLM and Amazon Instant users.
Some product news now and Monday September 2 sees the latest release arriving from HBO, Banshee. It’s the first outing for the series, but has the pedigree of coming from the creator of another of the studio’s big hits. As HBO’s Sophie Knight said: “From the creator of True Blood, Banshee is an action fan’s dream come true! Supported by an online and offline PR campaign, we’re looking forward to seeing how Season 1 performs this coming Monday.”

Sticking with TV and a few weeks ago, we were heralding the return of Aussie drama Prisoner Cell Block H, aka Prisoner, which is returning in the form of Wentworth Prison, which serves as a kind of prequel to the jail-based series. It started its run on Five on Thursday night, drawing almost 2 million viewers. It was the number one programme among the 16 to 34-year-old age group, and was well above the station’s average for that time. It also drew plenty of positive reviews, all of which sets it up nicely for the November 4 home entertainment launch. Fremantle’s Rebecca Candler said: “ffffThe 1.8 million viewers for the first episode is a fantastic and well deserved result. Together with all the twitter and Facebook interaction from those viewers, it's all boding very well for the DVD release."
Some acquisition news now and for the second week running there’s an announcement from Kaleidoscope about a title it’s picked up. It has announced it has acquired UK distribution rights for Not Another Happy Ending, a romcom set in Glasgow and starring, among others, Karen Gillan. The film closed this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, it will open at cinemas in October followed by home entertainment early next year. Commenting on the deal, Kaleidoscope’s Spencer Pollard said: “We are delighted to be working with the Producers of Not Another Happy Ending and releasing the film in the UK. The film was very well received in Edinburgh and we're excited about getting the chance to release the film theatrically later this year." Producer Claire Mundell said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to bring Karen Gillan’s first rom-com to a UK audience and very pleased indeed to be working with Kaleidoscope, who tracked the film with keen interest from an early stage.”

“Although Netflix releases no international streaming data by country, there is some evidence to suggest it is edging towards two million in the UK. But it is still on a tightrope as it races to add subscribers and revenues to cover its fast growing and somewhat shrouded content obligations.”
Enders Analysis on Netflix, in a report published this week
Highest new entry and sitting pretty at the top of the UK box office chart is sci-fi actioner Elysium, with a debut of some £3.1 million. It bested We’re The Millers  (£1.5 million) and This Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones (£1.1 million).
Our favourite news this week concerns Ben Wheatley, one of our favourite directors and the man behind recent goodies such as A Field In England, Sightseers and Kill List. This week it appears that Wheatley will helm an adaptation of JG Ballard’s homegrown sci-fi masterwork High Rise. A film version of the nightmarish vision of a tower block out of control, similar in tone to Ballard’s Crash rather than Empire Of The Sun, has long been mooted, but with Wheatley’s appointment it’s now a certainty…
This week’s Marvel news, and Avengers sequel, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, now has its Ultron, with the news this week that the role of the robotic foe of the superhero group will be played by James Spader. The film is, of course, being directed by Joss Whedon.
And to counter that, more Batman and Superman news, as the forthcoming DC superhero team up announced it will film in Detroit. In all honesty, this isn’t much of a story, but we were surprised comic book fans weren’t up in arms complaining it should be shot in Chicago, or some other city, given the Affleck furore last week.
Forthcoming from Kaleidoscope…
This week’s award for pronunciation of the word “karate’ goes to Will Ferrell…
“Based on a true story”, apparently. Looks fun…
More McConaughey…
As it premiered in Venice, here’s a clip from a film we can’t wait for…
“There’s a storm coming…” As previewed at FrightFest over the weekend…