BILL WITHERS AS PARLIAMENT DITHERS
WEBSITE TO LAUNCH
JOY AT HURT
NO GAME FOR SMITHS
QUIZ NIGHT FUNDRAISER
FREMANTLE INKS GEO DEAL
BRAVE MOVE FOR SCANBOX
WAR, WAR NOT STUPID
ADAM LOVESEY RIP
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
AT THE MOVIES
TWITTER OF THE WEEK
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
COMING SOON ON DVD AND AT CINEMAS
It Was A Good Week For... All the BAFTA winners, including Lionsgate's The Hurt Locker...
It Was A Bad Week For... anyone who cares about the future of our industry, as crunch time for the Digital Economy Bill approaches (see below)...
Next week will be a crucial one for the Digital Economy Bill currently working its way through parliament. Monday will see it go to the report stage in the House Of Lords, with further votes on the many amendments, ahead of its second reading in the Commons. Claim and counter claim have been running through various reports this week, some of which centred on the semantics and the difference between the words "terminate" and "suspend" when it comes to what will happen to the Internet accounts of persistent illegal peer to peer file downloaders. But this is, as much as anything, a smokescreen for the most important aspect – getting the bill on the statute books before parliament shuts down ahead of what is likely to be a May 6 general election. If the Bill fails, the whole process is unlikely to start again under the new government as many experts feel the Tories don't want to be burdened with this massively complex subject. Furthermore, the Tories will also have their own priorities in terms of new legislation, pushing it back even further. There's been some frantic lobbying and activity behind the scenes, but, according to some reports, both Tory and Liberal Democrat peers were set to vote against the controversial Clause 17, which aimed to future proof the legislation and ensure that authorities could act against illegal downloaders who have moved beyond peer to peer filesharing sites towards streaming from sites as technology advances. That hijacking could lead to the clause being dumped, especially as time is running out before the election. Meanwhile, our own industry headed by the likes of the BVA, as part of its membership of the Alliance Against IP Theft and the Creative Coalition Campaign, is doing plenty of its own lobbying and will be furthering its case at a reception next Wednesday evening.
The eagerly awaited Raygun website, at www.theraygun.co.uk, will finally launching next week after we've ironed out the last few technical hiccups. We will be sending out an alert as soon as we're live...
The penultimate event of the awards season helped The Hurt Locker to another sales surge this week, as Kathryn Bigelow's Iraqi-based tale of bomb disposal experts picked up six BAFTAs. The title was already performing strongly for Lionsgate – a couple of weeks ago it reported sales of almost 180,000 with almost 30 per cent of those coming from Blu-ray, making it the company's fastest selling high definition release ever. Its six BAFTA haul has already given it a further boost, with sales up more than 100 per cent on Monday and a further 160 per cent on Tuesday alone, adding almost 40,000 in sales and many are now tipping it to go on to Oscar glory... "Marketing support will continue throughout the awards season with the third TV campaign this weekend and further advertising planned through February," said Lionsgate's Sayoko Tietz.
We won't run you through a list of BAFTA winners (come on, you must know by now), but here's a quick catch up of some of the video industry-related highlights... Up's best animated film gong was one of the two BAFTAs picked up by the latest Disney/Pixar outing. Meanwhile, An Education, due from E1 on March 8, got a timely little boost too ahead of its DVD and Blu-ray release. And Icon had double celebrations, as its clutch of prestigious titles performed strongly, with gongs for A Single Man and Precious, both due later this year. The latter is a strong contender for Academy Awards too. Icon's Ian Dawson said: "The Icon team was delighted with the BAFTA recognition awarded to both Colin Firth as Best Actor for A Single Man and Mo’nique as Best Supporting Actress for Precious for their superb performances. The wins and, along with Nowhere Boy and The Road, the 12 BAFTA nominations gained, have secured massive publicity setting the titles up perfectly for their Q2 DVD and Blu-Ray retail releases while only adding to the growing buzz around both films in advance of the Oscars in March."
Timing is everything for a lot of Oscar and BAFTA-related titles, so High Fliers was celebrating its imminent release (March for rental, retail a few weeks later) of Best Actress winner Carey Mulligan's next film, The Greatest. The film sees the actress, who has shot to stardom over the past 12 months, lining up alongside Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon.
HMV has announced a replacement for former head of DVD Charles Fotheringham, who left the retailer suddenly last week in a shock move. Rudy Osorio had already briefly stepped into the role between the departure of Ian Dawson and before Fotheringham's appointment in 2007 and had since been heading up the music buying team, meaning he will be a familiar face to many in the industry. After paying tribute to Fotheringham, who had been with the retailer since 1994, HMV welcomed Osorio's move. "HMV would like to thank Charles for the valuable contribution he has made to the business in various roles and wishes him every success in his future career. Over the last three years Rudy has delivered great success heading up the music department through his leadership, strategic planning and commercial initiatives." HMV said it was looking to Osorio to deliver a "robust" plan to its visual category.
And then there was one. WHSmith has confirmed that DVD will be the only strand of home entertainment left in its stores after withdrawing games as well as audio from its shelves. While it will still have an online games and CD offering, DVD is the last disc-based product in the chain, which has long been discussing its plans to revert to "core" products. DVD is stocked in some 340 or the 550-strong chain's outlets.
Some interesting figures released by Kantar this week, looking at the volume of DVDs sold via the Channel Islands. The research suggests that 26.6 million DVDs were bought online in the final three months of the year, at an average price of £9.36. This is well below the EU value added tax threshold of £18 for goods bought outside of the EU (which the Channel Islands are). Kantar said that only five per cent of all online DVD sales were above that figure. And, of course, almost all online retailers are delivering from bases in the Channel Islands. Along with the 16.5 million CDs sold in Q4, VAT-free entertainment sales are said to be costing the government £110 million in lost sales. Many have been sniping about the loss in revenue, we can't help but think how strong the sales are...
Q: What event will see the great and good of the video industry lining up alongside their counterparts in the music business for a night of fundraising fun?
A: The Alliance Against IP Theft's inaugural annual quiz night and auction, due to take place at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on May 20. The evening will see 300 or so guests putting their wits against each other, with all proceeds going to the fight against piracy. Contact Mandy Lewis on 0782 6545767.
Fremantle has shored up another major distribution deal after inking a contract with National Geographic's home entertainment arm. The deal, which kicks off in April this year, will see the UK distribution and publishing giant look after all this brand's forthcoming releases – around 30 a year – as well as its 600 strong catalogue. It takes in DVD, Blu-ray, download to own and even 3D content, taking in single and multi-disc releases and will cover all areas of National Geographic's bast remit. First titles covered by the deal will include Britain's Greatest Machines, Known Universe and Triumph Of Life. Fremantle's Pete Kalhan said: "The National Geographic catalogue is second to none for high-quality factual programming. This, combined with FME's local expertise, industry contacts and market position as a leading distributor, makes for a great combination, and we're looking forward to a successful venture."
It's not just HBO that's looking forward to the imminent arrival of the Band Of Brothers sort-of-sequel The Pacific, due to air on Sky this spring ahead of a DVD release (see last week's newsletter). Scanbox has lined up a World War II themed title to ride on the back of Sky's much-publicised transmission. Only The Brave follows a much-decorated division of Japanese American soldiers fighting for the Allies following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Scanbox's Ken Law said: "Major event films and TV series always provide indies with excellent drafting opportunities. The war genre always sells on DVD and with the strong Pacific-themed link to this true story, we have high hopes for Only The Brave.”
War! What is it good for! Absolutely loads of DVD sales, it would appear. The genre has seen its fair share of DTV success in recent years (witness, if you will, Metrodome's Saints And Soldiers, still selling to this day) and the aforementioned High Fliers is currently toasting another success story after its World War I tale Passchendaele notched up sales approaching 35,000 in its first few weeks of release. "It's exceeding our expectations," said High Fliers' Tom Stewart.
Last week saw the BFI's DVD arm announce that it was putting together Dual Format Editions for all its releases, with DVD and Blu-ray available in the same package. And it set us at The Raygun thinking... Which was the first company to release DVD and Blu-ray package together? Well, by our reckoning, it was the now defunct Tartan Video. Its first three Blu-ray releases (Old Boy, The Seventh Seal and Black Book, since you ask) came with BD and DVD versions and were dubbed Future Proof editions. And who oversaw them? Step forward Tartan's Sam Dunn, coincidentally, now head of DVD at the BFI...
The Raygun is sad to report on the untimely death of graphic designer Adam Lovesey, who had worked in and around the industry at companies such as Karma Blue, AGI and One Screen. Adam was held in high regard by both his peers at assorted agencies and his clients at distributors for his lively design work, his conscientious approach to work and the fact he was thoroughly trustworthy and could always be counted upon. Adam sadly died in hospital almost two weeks ago. Paying tribute to him, James McAllister from Karma Blue said: "When I initially employed Adam in 2007, I had no idea that he would also become one of my dearest friends. At work, he quickly became an integral part of the business. Adam was probably the best graphic designer I have ever had the pleasure to work alongside. His design skills were second to none! Ads was affectionately known in the office as 'the Gamminator' (due to being unbeatable at backgammon and at the dart board). He was an inspirational work colleague and also a very warm and beautiful character. Adam was a thoroughly lovely man and I was honoured to count him as a friend. His life was cut short way too early and he will be missed by all who knew him. My thought are with his partner Clare and both their families. Rest in peace Gamminator." The funeral will be held next Thursday.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Odeon/UCI has invested considerable sums of money, especially in the UK, over the past 12 months to install digital projection systems in its cinemas. The proposed reduction in the window on a high-profile 3D title like Alice in Wonderland undermines the investment made."
An Odeon/UCI statement, earlier this week.
"An enduring agreement has been reached encompassing all the different aspects of both companies' commercial relationship."
The next Odeon/UCI statement.
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
E1 Entertainment is gearing itself up for the March 22 release of the latest instalment in the Twilight series, New Moon. The pull of Twilight fans, aka Twihards, is irresistible – just witness the voting power they exercised to help Kristen Stewart win the Rising Star BAFTA award. E1 is cannily appealing to hardcore devotees and more recent fans alike with a myriad of different versions of the film. So this means one and two disc versions, as well as Blu-ray and a sumptuous box set, the Memory Box, that doubles up as a vanity case (only 5,000 made). All formats will include a sneak peek at Eclipse, the next tale in the saga, while th two disc edition features a whopping four hours' worth of extras.
AT THE MOVIES
The half term week helped give a new lease of life to Fox's Avatar, which swooped back up to the top of the UK box office; its weekend haul alone was nearly £3 million and it has now amassed more than £83 million in its 10 week run. Disney's The Princess And The Frog was another benefactor of the school holidays, moving back up to number two on its way to a total of £8.87 million. Fox's Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief also held firm, falling a mere one per cent in its second week and now with overall receipts of more than £5 million. Another Fox title, its Alvin And The Chipmunks Squeakuel and E1's Astro Boy both enjoyed half term rises too. New entries were The Lovely Bones, with £1.67 million and Solomon Kane, with £611,866. In America, Martin Scorsese's latest, the Hitchcockian Shutter Island (careful with that potential "u" and "I" key slip) took more than $40 million, topping the box office.
It's superhero week, as news reaches us from the US that Warner is beginning what is likely to be a long, slow trek to cinemas on a new Superman film. The latest reboot for the franchise, likely to be called Man Of Steel (Superman's other name, in the same way Batman is known as The Dark Knight) will ditch the Superman Returns persona of Brandon Routh and go for a new look and feel. Warner has pulled in an expert to help along the way – David Goyer, a veteran of comic book films whose CV includes work on Batman Begins, The Dark Knight as well as Blade, Ghost Rider and the forthcoming X-Men Origins: Magneto, is developing a script that includes Superman battling Lex Luthor and another baddie, Brainiac. They'd better get cracking as an ongoing row over who owns the rights to the superhero could see the families of co-creators Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster gaining all rights within three years.
Warner's next comic book outing as part of a big push for its DC stable of characters is The Green Lantern, starring a resurgent Ryan Reynolds in the title role. Over at Marvel, Iron Man 2 this summer will herald a raft of activity, including a new Thor film. Also currently casting is Captain America, with names being thrown around including Gossip Girl's Chace Crawford (hey, what film doesn't have someone from Gossip Girl in the frame?) and John Krasinki, from the US version of The Office.
Blue steel! Stories are circulating about a long-awaited sequel to Zoolander, with Ben Stiller reprising his role as the eponymous supermodel hero. No word if Owen Wilson will star again, but the script is currently being developed by Stiller and Tropic Thunder scribe Justin Theroux. Zoolander, of course, is a genuine DVD phenomenon, its sales far outstripping its theatrical performance.
SITE OF THE WEEK
Missed the BAFTAs? Here you can get to see the highlights without having to put up with the awkward silences that followed many of host Jonathan Ross' gags. Although you do get to see Edith Bowman patronising the talent... http://www.bafta.org/awards/film/
TWEET OF THE WEEK
More BAFTAs again, this week, as well as following them on the Guardian's live blog and on TV, we were also following it on Twitter... Follow it here (still going strong): http://twitter.com/#search?q=BAFTA And check these gorgeous images from the brochure here... http://twitter.com/#search?q=BAFTA%20retro
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
This is a must see for anyone in our business, retelling the story of how Disney pulled itself out of its 80s slump...
"Everything is kung fu..."
In the immortal words of Denis Leary: "I'm drunk. I'm nobody. I'm drunk. I'm famous. I'm drunk. I'm dead." Actually, this looks excellent:
Is it just us, or is Shia LaBeouf actually looking younger?
Opening in the UK imminently, courtesy of Optimum, one of director Atom Egoyan's more commercial outings:
OUT THIS WEEK ON DVD AND BLU-RAY (March 1)
After School (Network)
Bleach Series 4 Vol 2 (Manga)
Bright Star (Pathe)
Chance In A Million Series 1 (Revelation)
Cirque Du Freak The Vampire's Assistant (Universal) (DVD and Blu-ray)
CSI Season 9 (Momentum) (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Constant Husband (Optimum)
Criminal Minds Season 4 (WDSHE)
Dallas Season 12 (Warner)
Dawn Of The Dead (Arrow) Blu-ray)
Dead Man Running (Revolver)(DVD and Blu-ray)
Dick Emery The Thames Television Specials (Fremantle)
Doc Martin Series 4 (Momentum)
Doctor Who The Space Museum/The Chase (2entertain)
The Downfall Of Berlin Anonyma (Metrodome)
Edward II (Second Sight)
Emmanuelle (Optimum) (Blu-ray)
European Railway Journeys (six titles) (Demand DVD)
Fantastic Four 1978 Complete Series (Marvel)
The Fantastic Mr Fox (Fox) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Ghost Whisperer Season 4 (WDSHE)
The Horsemen (Kaleidoscope) (DVD and Blu-ray)
In Plain Sight Season 2 (Universal Playback)
An Inspector Calls (Optimum)
Jacob’s Ladder (Optimum) (Blu-ray)
Le Shuttle (Demand DVD)
K2 A Cry From The Top Of The World (Demand DVD)
Ken Dodd The Laughter Show (Fremantle)
Lucia (Mr Bongo)
Made In Scotland (Demand DVD)
The Max Bygraves Specials (Fremantle)
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (WDSHE)
Midsomer Murders 7 (Acorn)
Midsomer Murders The Creeper (Acorn)
Miss March (Fox)
Muck And Brass The Complete Series (Network)
My Friends Tigger And Pooh (WDSHE)
Nissan Sports Adventure (Demand DVD)
Nurse Jackie (Lionsgate)
Original Spider-Man Season 3 Volume 1 (Marvel)
The Pot Carriers (Optimum)
Private Practice Season 2 (WDSHE)
Rab C Nesbitt Series 9 (2entertain)
The Rainbow Jacket (Optimum)
Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (box set) (Acorn)
Sam The Complete Series (Acorn)
Sesame Street, 40 Years Of Sunny Days (Abbey Home Media)
Seventh Moon (DNC)
Story Of Margaret Thatcher (Demand DVD)
Survivors Season 2 (2entertain)
Thomas And Friends Splish, Splash, Splosh! (HIT)
Tower Of London (Optimum)
Travelling Man The Complete Series (Network)
Trial And Retribution (box set) (Acorn)
Triangle (Icon) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Turn Of The Screw (Acorn)
Wrecked (TLA Releasing)
WWE Survivor Series 2009 (Silver Vision)
OUT THE FOLLOWING WEEK ON DVD AND BLU-RAY (March 8)
After School (Network)
An Education (E1 Entertainment) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Big Cats (three titles) (Demand DVD)
Black Snow (Second Run)
Bright Star (Pathe)
The Deal (High Fliers)
Dennis And Gnasher Double Trouble (2entertain)
Dinosaur Discoveries (three titles) (Demand DVD)
Don’t Worry About Me (Verve)
Dynasty Season 4 (Paramount)
Eastbound And Down Season 1 (HBO)
Give Em Hell Malone (Momentum)
The Great Rift (2entertain) (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Grind (Scanbox)
Hell to Pay (4Digital Media)
iMurders (Anchor Bay)
Intimate Relations (Optimum)
I Think We’re Alone Now (Kaleidoscope)
Julie And Julia (SPHE)
Kill Zone (Cine Asia)
The Last Hitman (Scanbox)
The Mentalist Season 1 (Warner)
Mr Lonely (ICA)
NBA Champions San Antonio Spurs (Clear Vision)
No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (E1 Entertainment)
Personal Effects (Anchor Bay)
Reservoir Dogs (Lionsgate)
Road Warriors In Afghanistan (ITV)
Roary The Racing Car Bumper Collection 2 (2entertain)
Safety In Numbers (ICA)
Saw VI (Lionsgate) (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Sea Wall (Artificial Eye)
School Of Comedy (2entertain)
Shooting Michael Moore The Documentary (Demand DVD)
Sinking Of Japan (MVM)
Star Spangled Rhythm (Optimum)
Takeshis’ (Artificial Eye)
Taking Woodstock (Universal) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Toy Story (WDSHE) (DVD and combi pack)
Toy Story 2 (WDSHE) (DVD and combi pack)
Track 29 (Optimum)
UFC 104 (Clear Vision)
Within These Walls Series 3 (Network)
WWE Live In The UK (Silver Vision)
OUT THIS WEEK AT CINEMAS (February 26)
Capitalism A Love Story (Paramount)
The Crazies (Paramount/Momentum)
Everybody's Fine (Disney)
Extraordinary Measures (Sony)
From Paris With Love (Warner)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Park Circus)
Karthik Calling Karthik (Eros)
Leap Year (Optimum)
She, A Chinese (Optimum)
OUT NEXT WEEK AT CINEMAS (March 5)
1234 (Soda Pictures)
Alice In Wonderland (Walt Disney)
Case 39 (Paramount)
Exit Through The Gift Shop (Revolver)
Father Of My Children (Artificial Eye)
Legion (Sony Pictures)
The Shouting Men (Kaleidoscope)
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