NEWSLETTER :: October 7 2010
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It was a good week for… eOne, which had double cause for celebration…

It was a bad week for… Pirates everywhere, as 40 countries issued an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement…

We've covered this extensively over the past week or so, and our full report on its groundbreaking launch event is on our website, but it's worth noting the exemplary performance of StreetDance 3D last week, The title stormed to the top of the charts with sales of some 155,369 in its first week. Rupert Preston from StreetDance producer Vertigo Films said: "StreetDance 3D has clearly captured the imagination of the UK public and we are delighted to see it enter the UK charts in the number one spot." It capped a strong week for the company, which also saw its Ben And Holly's Little Kingdom become the biggest pre-school children's launch of the year, notching up more than 10,000 units in its first week. The programme comes from ABD, the makers of Peppa Pig, and the company's Phil Davies said: "This is a fantastic result for the launch of Ben And Holly's Little Kingdom on DVD and we are delighted to find this is the biggest pre-school title of the year." eOne's Jon Bourdillon said: "This is a great week for us, with the huge success of UK hit StreetDance 3D and kids' favourite Ben And Holly ending a great quarter for us. We are looking forward to an even more successful Q4."  

To London's hmvapollo in Hammersmith, where the retailer made the most of its ownership of one of the capital's top venues to host its Live 2010 event as part of its annual store managers' annual conference, which took place earlier in the day. Store and head office managers from sister company Waterstone's managers also staged their conference at the venue during the day, also returning later in the evening to join in the fun. The key message from the conference, which was presided over by ceo Simon Fox, and featured presentations by commercial director Steve Napleton, operations director Neil Taylor and group marketing director Graham Sim, was that there is a fantastic Q4 line-up across all formats for stores to get behind to deliver a best-ever Christmas for the retailer. Distributors and suppliers from across the video industry, in addition to record labels and games publishers, among others, presented their wares for the next few months to the retailers' managers and head office staff at an exhibition located at the nearby Novotel Hotel. The mood was enthusiastic, HMV's head of visual, Rudy Osorio said: "It's been a fantastic conference - undoubtedly helped by the fact there's a lot of great product to get excited about this Q4. As ever, we were able to rely on a tremendous response from our supplier partners, who really got behind our exhibition – and I'd like to thank everyone involved for their valued contribution and hard work. We're hugely grateful to them, and I'm delighted so many were able to enjoy our evening of live bands as well as entertainment from John Bishop."

And, after the more business-like events of the day, there was the little matter of the Monday evening event. This saw major acts such as The Manic Street Preachers (one of the real highlights), The Charlatans, Tinie Tempah, Paloma Faith and Eliza Doolittle, performING sets. Compere for the excellent event, which showed the continued pulling power of the major, was John Bishop, ahead of the release of his first stand-up DVD. He showed his genuine, populist touch by chatting to HMV staffers after he'd finished and while the Manics were headlining, And, of course, many suppliers and distributors, from the video industry and beyond, were out in force for the evening's event.

Speaking of John Bishop, the comic showed his mettle at the HMV event this week and it must have been satisfying for 2 entertain executives on hand to see how well he went down. The company is putting the finishing touches to its impending DVD release, The Elvis Has Left The Building Tour, the first from one of the country's fastest growing stand-up acts (his Edinburgh show this year broke the record for the most tickets sold in a single year at Edinburgh). As well as finalising the DVD – it has just finished filming the last of the additional features, a documentary of the Porthcawl Elvis Festival – the company is also working on a huge marketing campaign. It is promising a major splash for the stand-up’s debut DVD including a substantial multi-format above the line campaign lined up for the release and an outdoor campaign around his autumn tour. Bishop himself will be appearing on all the right chat shows and quiz programmes on TV. "John’s support around the release has been fantastic and we’re confident that alongside the campaign we’ve got planned this is a very exciting title for us this Q4,” said 2 entertain’s Julia Mallinson.

This week on The Raygun website – there's our regular update of the weekend's DVD and Blu-ray coverage, a look at the StreetDance launch event, an interview with director Noel Clarke, Momentum's Frozen, more on our HMV-endorsed My Inspiration feature (and it's a great one this week), some trailers, clips and loads of other industry stuff. See here for more

Also due on the comedy front, is the latest from Al Murray, now signed to Anchor Bay as part of the company's increased commitment to comedy releases. In one of the fastest turnarounds of the year, the title, Al Murray The Pub Landlord Barrel Of Fun Live, is being filmed this month ahead of its November 22 release. As for the marketing, Anchor Bay is currently finalising its campaign, but the title will benefit from an outdoor campaign including nationwide buses as well as what it describes as an unprecedented spend, launching on ITV. It will run from ahead of the release right through the gifting season. The release is coming out as Murray tours the country, with all the benefits that profile will afford the release. He will also be appearing on shows such as BBC Breakfast and The One Show.          

Signs the Q4 season has started part 17: we've already mentioned programmes such as The One Show, and chat and panel shows that are the best way for comedians and others to publicise their forthcoming product, but did anyone see Friday night's Paul O'Grady show on ITV? Michael Parkinson was featured, alongside hefty plugs for his DVD release (2 entertain's The Michael Parkinson Collection, out next month), as was Louie Spence, the camp sensation from ITV Studio's Home Entertainment's Pineapple Dance Studios The Fabulous Highlights.

One major signing just unveiled for the Q4 comedy season is Keith Lemon. The star is the latest comic sensation created by Leigh Francis, hosts Celebrity Juice on ITV and is one of the faces of the network. He has inked a deal with Lions Gate to release Keith Lemon's Fit. The comedy release will see Lemon, the self-styled ladies man, giving away the secrets of how he gets his look, from his fitness regime through to fashion and style tips. The title will be released on November 22. Commenting on the deal, Lions Gate's Nicola Pearcey said: "We are thrilled to be working with Leigh Francis on this very exciting and bespoke project for our slate this Christmas. Working with someone as refreshing and entertaining as Leigh is a fantastic opportunity for Lionsgate and the team has put together an incredibly unique comedy that will brighten up anyone’s DVD or digital collection just in time for Christmas."

Lions Gate was further celebrating this week after its campaign for The Hurt Locker picked up an award at the Screen Marketing And Distribution Awards held this week. The film won the UK DVD campaign of the year, beating off the challenge of Mesrine (Momentum), Paranormal Activity (Icon), New Moon (eOne) and Up (Disney). Nicola Pearcey (again) said: "I'm delighted for the team and really proud as they deserve the recognition. It's such a fantastic film and has continuously delivered great results for us." Other winners included Vertigo and Optimum (three each), as well as Revolver, which picked up a brace of awards. 

Back to some of our hectic week, and to London's Madame Tussauds for a press event for Paramount's October 25 release of Iron Man 2. As well as being treated to the venue's Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience, the assembled newspaper, magazine and broadcast journalists (as well as The Raygun) saw the film on a huge screen and then got a preview of the release's Blu-ray extras. The superhero title, featuring Robert Downey Jr as the eponymous character alongside a host of other big names, has just been released in the US where it has sold by the lorryload, with a healthy Blu-ray to DVD split. Paramount's PR agency Shine has been busy over the past week. As well as organising the event on Wednesday, it was also out and about in London on Tusday, taking around a bunch of Ironettes – cheerleaders dressed like those in the film's opening scene – round to assorted newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations. Shine executives were there to hand over the DVD and the Ironettes even appeared live on Capital Radio, as well as going to the likes of Loaded, Nuts and Zoo. Pics up on our website. Again, this is just part of the ongoing activity for Iron Man 2, which will include taking journalists on a freefall dressed in Iron Man outfits and taking out a "super-fan" who has built his own Iron Man suit. More on this next week…

We're surprised the Ironettes didn't bump into Darth Vader and a bunch of Stormtroopers, as Anchor Bay took to the streets to promote this week's release of its feature Fanboys (covered extensively here and on our website). The crew went took to the streets of London as the tube strike took hold and the timely industrial action earned the film some decent coverage – for an example see here. It followed hot on the heels of a launch event last week. Anchor Bay's Thom Leaman said: "We decided to herald the long-awaited UK release of Fanboys on DVD and Blu-Ray with all the fanfare you’d expect for the opening of the Death Star. We had Darth Vader and his band of Storm Troopers marching across London in the day spreading the release message and providing numerous photo opportunities. The timing of the tube strike on Monday enabled PR to sell in some great shots of the troop trying to navigate their way by foot across London to picture desks across the country. The tube strike did us a favour for once." For more see our website.

As we've just mentioned, we at The Raygun have been hugely busy over the past seven days, and Saturday saw us off to Leicester Square for the premiere screening of Cartoon Network's new Ben 10 strand, Ultimate Alien. Warner was closely involved with the event, which coincided with its latest release from the franchise, Ben 10: Alien Swarm, the second live action film. The first, Race Against Time, has sold some 250,000 units so far, and Ben 10 has now pased the 1 million mark in terms of units sold. The event itself saw hundred of kids and their parents, including celebrity families headed by the likes of This Is England's Stephen Graham, ex-Sugababe Mutya Buena, Location Location Location's Kirstie Alsopp and Nell McAndrew, and was followed by a party in the Square's park itself. As for Warner's release, both Asda and Morrison's have sited front of store units, the former represents something of a first for Warner's Family Entertainment arm in that it features both the DVD and third party licensed product. Warner product manager Dan Gilson said: "We’re delighted with the event – Leicester Square looked amazing decked out in Ben 10 branding and we got a great turnout. It should set us up for a strong launch of our Ben 10: Alien Swarm DVD."

It may all sound glamorous for us at The Raygun, but it ain't necessarily always West End locales. We've also recently been over in Hackney, in a squat that had been converted into an acid house niterie, inhaling the intoxicating fumes of dry ice and listening to late 1980s house music. The reason? We were on set with Momentum for the filming of a 2011 release, Weekender, put together by some of the team responsible for the DTV hit The Crew. The company has invested early in the process of making the eminently commercial film about a gang of mates some 20 years ago who, fuelled by the acid house explosion, launch a wildly successful club, only to see it infiltrated by gangsters keen on a slice of the action. We paid a visit to the set alongside legendary house DJ Terry Farley, hired as a musical consultant to ensure authenticity. We had a blast. Interesting to note too that designers from agency Oink were on hand, already working on key art for the film, just as interesting to note that the DVD sleeve was as much in their thinking as the theatrical image, although the final release strategy has yet to be decided. Similarly, Momentum's marketing director Louisa Mitchell was also on hand to put the DVD-friendly additional material and footage together.  Expect more from us on this closer to its release next year. 

Also this week: While half the industry was at HMV's event on Monday Clear Vision and retailers were on the other side of London, watching the LA Lakers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at London's O2 Arena. There were some 19,000 fans there (the event sold out in four hours) as well as a host of celebrities, including, it seems, half the Premier League. The NBA has stated that it is convinced that repeat visits (a full league game will take place in the UK in the spring) and the 2012 Olympics will help grow the sport over here. The increased profile can only have ongoing benefits for Clear Vision, which holds the UK and European rights to NBA home entertainment releases. Clear Vision's Paul Archer said: "It’s testament to the pulling power of the NBA that it can attract such a large crowd on a Monday night and with a league game in the UK next year, extensive coverage on ESPN and a new army of fans it can only be good news for the sales of our exciting DVD range."

The burning question the whole trade has been asking over the past week or two (and a hot topic at the HMV event on Monday night) is "what is an Arn: Knight Templar?" Such is the success of High Fliers title, which took many of the independent's contemporaries by surprise on its way to selling almost 30,000 in its first two that few even know what the film even is (fewer still have seen it). So what is it all about? See the trailer now on our website here. High Fliers' May Monteiro said: "Arn has been a runaway success for us and I think it's because it has a little bit of everything, making it a perfect DVD. A big budget production with brave knights, epic battles, a beautiful lady to be rescued and a crusade to fight. Arn is a non-stop action adventure which really delivers – and we are so pleased with support we had and the sales results."

We've said we've been busy, and it's only now that we're getting to a major announcement made this week by Fox. The company has unveiled the release of the eagerly-awaited extended collector's edition of Avatar on Blu-ray and DVD – the three-disc set will arrive on November 15. There are three versions of the film on both BD and DVD, the original, the recent director's cut and an all-new extended cut offering a further 15 minutes, as well as never-before-seen material and more than 45 minutes' worth of deleted scenes. The former has more added value material, and there will also be a striCtly limited edition box set (one where limited really does mean limited – there are only 1,000 copies available). Director James Cameron said: " I told our team – let's do the ultimate box set of Avatar, with everything in it the fans could possibly want. There's an extended length cut that's sixteen minutes longer, plus documentaries, behind the scenes featurettes, artwork and over 45 minutes of deleted scenes. Everything worth putting into a special edition is in this set."

This week's piracy update: three news items from the past seven days: Firstly two men have been given jail terms, one suspended for between 16 and eight months after admitting conspiracy to make and sell counterfeit goods. The case followed a raid on an address in Walthamstow where pilice found pirate DVDs, burners and other goods. They were connected to dealers selling bootleg films at boot fairs and in pubs. They may also have their assests seixed. FACT director general Kieron Sharp said: "The sentencing in this case once again shows that the courts will send counterfeiters to prison, particularly where this serious criminal activity is bringing harm to local communities." Secondly, also in the UK, BT is trying to suspend the Digital Economy Act requirement that states that ISPs such as itself must hand over the details of customers accused of illegal file-sharing. The company has demanded that plans be put on hold following the news that law firm ACS' Law, charged with looking after customers' details, had been hacked into.

Lastly on the piracy front, a 21 page Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has been made between 40 countries, including the US, Japan, Mexico and EU territories. Although China is missing, it is hoped all 40 will press the Chinese authorities to follow suit. It will standardise anti-piracy measures and allow customs officials to seize pirated materials without a court order. Countries will be required to have legislation to allow action against pirates and to protect copyright, as well as allowing content owners to assert their ownership and seek payment for violations. It is hoped it will make it easier to clamp down on websites offering illegal copies of films and other pirated material.  

Creative agency freeform.London has launched a new AV arm freeform.Motion. It will look after TV production and creative along every step of the way, taking in everything from brief to final delivery, as well as radio ads, trailers, promo reels and DVD extras. It already boasts a digital arm, freeform.Digital and can handle post and CG production. freeform director Tony Roberts said: "Over the last two years, we have sought to expand the business beyond print creative, adding marketing strategy, digital production and now broadcast to our roster. This completes the portfolio, enabling us to offer the full 360 degree service in-house. We can work on every element of the marketing mix, ensuring only one agency is needed for the launch and full life cycle of a product."

And we'll end, as we started, with HMV. The company has started selling Apple's iPad in 30 of its stores. And a happy birthday to the hmvcurzon cinema in Wimbledon, celebrating its first birthday in October with a week-long special programme, taking in BFI's Tintin releases in its Cinekids weekend matinees and other special events.   


"The demand is there, at record levels. The consumers are there, in record numbers. The content is available, in record supply. But what has changed ... is the way people consume content. [Consumers] want their content when, where and how they want it, and the good news is they're willing to pay more for it if it's premium, if it's faster, sooner, more mobile or more transportable." Lionsgate ceo and co-chairman Jon Feltheimer, speaking at MIPCOM this week.

Somewhat surprisingly, The Other Guys held on to the top slot at UK cinemas for a third week running, outdoing the very PR-friendly Made In Dagenham. Although for all concerned it was a relatively quiet weekend at the box office, no film took more than £1 million (The Other Guys now totals a shade more than £6 million), something of a rarity, while Made In Dagenham took a little less than £700,000. Highest new entry of the week was Icon's Buried (more than £800,000), while Back To The Future took a little less than £500,000. In the US, highest new entry of the week was The Social Network, which came in with almost $23 million.

It seems as if the ongoing saga of The Hobbit has dragged on for the kind of lengthy time that creator JRR Tolkien himself would have admired, with assorted directors such as Guillermo del Toro dropping in and out of the proceedings in addition to assorted financial and even union rows further clouding the oft-delayed project. Now it appears that the two-film series is back on track. And Peter Jackson is returning to the fray as director, after earlier exiting due to disputes over monies owed. The project will be shot in 3D and is slated for release at the end of 2012. We'll believe it when we see it, although at a cost of $30 million thus far, without a frame being filmed, producers will be hoping it will happen, especially with Jackson's magic Tolkien touch.

And on to this week's comic book news. Zack Snyder, he of 300 and Watchmen fame, has signed up to direct the next take on the Man of Steel, as DC franchise Superman returns (that means Superman is coming back, it's not Superman Returns, the last outing for Metropolis' famed Krypton) for Superman: Man Of Steel. It comes as DC ramps up its film slate via parent Warner, with next year's Green Lantern followed by Superman and that other character, Batman.

Mike Myers turned Shrek into a popular cartoon character and he is now reported to be taking on the voice of another character, although this one already has a pedigree. Pepe Le Pew is, of course, a Looney Tunes creation and, as part of Warner's plan to update its stable to today's digital-savvy kids, it is planning a Pepe Le Pew film. It will blend live action and CGI.   

Hey, with X Factor and The Apprentice on telly, there's little else to talk about, although we really like Optimum's work for its current theatrical release A Town Called Panic, at Follow us on


Well, it's more of a viral of the week, really. We've covered this extensively in previous newsletters, but we liked this viral that eOne has produced for The Tortured. It's hosted here:

If it had been like this at school, we might have paid a bit more attention:

Actually, at school we did a play about this cheery subject, now turned into comedy: 
Pray to God it's not like the Blair Witch sequel…

This looks better each time we see it:
Now with new tagline, but that sure don't sound like Justin Timberlake to us

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