EVENT OFFERS INSIGHT…
REPORT HIGHLIGHTS INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTION
CENTIPEDE STORY HAS LEGS AS BBFC REFUSES CERT
BBFC WATCHES AND RATES…
…AND PUBLISHES ANNUAL REPORT
MUSIC DVDS MAY NEED CERTS
2E'S SUMMER FITNESS REGIME AND Q3 SLATE
LEE'S VEHICLE TO DRIVE SALES
IDEAL FOR HOMES
RINGSIDE SEATS FOR THE FIGHTER
MANIA REACHERS FEVER PITCH…
AND WWE STUDIO CONTINUES…
FRIGHTFEST LINE-UP REVEALED
4DIGITAL GOES BLACK AND BLUE
REVOLVER CROWNS THE KINGS
LOVEFILM UBER ALLES
BLU-RAY GROWS IN THE US
EVENTS OF THE WEEK
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... Fire In Babylon, Revolver's cricket doc, featured on here extensively in previous weeks, is off to a flying start
It's Been A Bad Week For… Redundancies at some of the major studios announced in the US…
The great and the good of the industry were out in force this week for the BVA, Industry Trust, BFI and MPA-endorsed 360 Insight event. Running through the event was the concept of the virtuous circle, the relationship between consumer demand, content production and innovation that keeps our industry turning. It also saw the publication of a major report from the BVA put together by Oxford Economics, looking at the contribution of our industry to production (see below). It further looked at convergence and other developments in our industry, another theme between collaboration as the industry worked together to innovate. Speakers included representatives from Apollo Cinemas, Cinema NX, Clusters, Disney and Warner, LOVEFiLM, facebook, Think Jam, Virgin Media and Sony, whose Tim Wright presented about the eagerly-awaited Ultraviolet service. The event was held together by film journalist and sometime Raygun contributor Charles Gant. He said: " The Hargreaves Review and recent developments with the Digital Economy Act mean there is growing pressure on industry to show that it is moving with the times. Although I’m a film journalist who writes every week about the business of cinema exhibition, it was only through hosting this event that I caught up with everything that is happening, particularly in the field of digital delivery of home entertainment. The industry still has a lot of work to do to communicate the range of services out there. Hopefully today’s event will help push the message through.” The Industry Trust's Liz Bales said: "The public is continually demanding more content, easier access and greater choice. Technological and commercial innovation is responding to this demand with new digital technologies, new devices and new ways to distribute content. For example, there are now more than 30 digital destinations where consumers can rent or buy film and TV content. Producers are also embracing innovations. They’re pushing creative boundaries, for example with 3D, demanding more technological development and creating more consumer demand. It’s a virtuous circle, with each element driving and inspiring evolution in the others."
The BVA commissioned report, More Than A Support Act, made for fascinating reading. It states that 47 per cent of feature film revenues come from video, 34 per cent of television series revenues comes from video and in the case of children's programming the revenue is 19 per cent. It further pointed to specific programmes, such as Doctor Who (50 per cent of global revenues come from video), Downton Abbey (47 per cent of revenues for the first series came from video entertainment and Kidulthood as examples where video was crucial to the process. The report picked up coverage in national newspapers such as The Times too. Commenting on the report, culture minister Ed Vaizey: "The creative industries are very important to the UK economy because, frankly, we are a creative nation. We are very good at the creative industries. We are good at film, we are good a fashion, we are good at video games. Government has to take these industries seriously, as they make a huge contribution to our economy. When you go and see a film or any production what you don’t realise is that a lot of the money is made not just by the theatrical release but by people buying the DVD or downloading the video at home, or selling it to television. So video is massively important, it is the unsung hero of the creative industries, it is the industry that creates the profit that keeps the creative industries going.” BVA director general Lavinia Carey added: “The whole audio-visual industry in the UK is worth £10.8 billion, employing thousands of skilled people and both revenues and employment is now increasingly reliant on the video entertainment sector. Effectively, the ‘tail’ is now definitely wagging the dog. Video entertainment remains crucial to the commissioning and production of great TV drama and films. No video means no film and TV, as simple as that. The future of video is bright, but we need to increase interoperability, household penetration of high-speed broadband and continue to tackle intellectual property theft to make sure we as an industry sustain the support for film and TV production."
We're wading through a notebook's worth of material from the day and we've almost finished our feature looking at the event, it'll be up early next week. Also on our website this week, our weekly looks at screenings and home entertainment press coverage, as well as a closer look at Icon's sleeve for The Pack and loads more… Visit at www.theraygun.co.uk
Bounty Films and its UK distributor Eureka have announced they intend to to appeal the BBFC's refusal to grant a certificate to the sequel to The Human Centipede, which had been submitted for DVD release, but turned down. In a statement from Bounty, issued through Eureka, the company's Tony Romeo said: "In Australia the film has been granted a certificate with no cuts. We are extremely surprised therefore by the BBFC’s decision." The BBFC decision on The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) made the headlines this week, with numerous outlets reporting the detailed announcement from the BBFC and the pro- and anti-censorship lobbies all weighing in with numerous comment pieces, blogs, Tweets and a whole load of noise (The Guardian alone had three different articles by three different commentators on the rights and wrongs of the decision, none of whom had seen it). In fact, at one point both the BBFC and The Human Centipede 2 were trending on Twitter. The Human Centipede joins that rare batch of films that were refused a certificate outright, rather than issued one with cuts. The BBFC's David Cooke said: “It is the Board’s carefully considered view that to issue a certificate to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board’s Guidelines, would risk potential harm within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and would be unacceptable to the public. The Board also seeks to avoid classifying material that may be in breach of the Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 (OPA) or any other relevant legislation. The OPA prohibits the publication of works that have a tendency to deprave or corrupt a significant proportion of those likely to see them. In order to avoid classifying potentially obscene material, the Board engages in regular discussions with the relevant enforcement agencies, including the CPS, the police, and the Ministry of Justice. It is the Board’s view that there is a genuine risk that this video work, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), may be considered obscene within the terms of the OPA, for the reasons given above. The Board considered whether its concerns could be dealt with through cuts. However, given that the unacceptable content runs throughout the work, cuts are not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification.” For his part, director Tom Six told Empire: "Apparently, I made an horrific horror film, but shouldn't a good horror film be horrific? My dear people it is a f****cking [sic] MOVIE. It is all fictional. Not real. It is all make-belief [sic]. It is art. Give people their own choice to watch it or not. If people can't handle or like my movies they just don't watch them." (Never mind his films, grammar and spelling like that should get him banned.) He also attacked the BBFC's comprehensive report, which gave away much of the film's plot… For more and our more detailed opinion on the matter, see our website shortly, where we'll have a comment piece.
While we're on the subject of both the 360 Insight event AND the BBFC, it's worth noting that the organisation had a stall at the event, pushing its forays into the digital world under the aegis of new head of digital Mark Dawson. It's offering voluntary classification for digital content for both content providers and aggregators across all platforms. "The scheme was set up at the request of industry," Dawson said. "The public has demonstrated a desire for classification information on digital content and that's been reflected by the Bailey Report. The BBFC's market-leading symbols and consumer information are perfect for the job. Distributors can apply for online classifications when they submit their physical product for a Video Recordings Act classification or, by taking advantage of our Watch and rate scheme, they can ask us to look at content that will only ever be distributed online."
And lastly from the BBFC this week, came the publication of its annual report. It said there were three key areas of debate in 2010: the prevalence of s*xual and s*xualised violence (asterisked for firewall problems, not through any sense of prudishness or censorship on our behalf) in the likes of I Spit On Your Grave and A Serbian Film (the cuts to both prompted commentators to say the BBFC had toughened up its act, but, David Cooke said "in both instances, the decisions were firmly in line with our published classification Guidelines which result from extensive and regular consultation with the public"); the use of language in Made In Dagenham and The King's Speech and the s*xualisation of children (asterisked for firewall problems, not through any sense of prudishness or censorship on our behalf). The organisation submitted evidence to the Bailey report (see below). The report also looks at its aforementioned Watch And Rate and online classifications. Cooke concluded: "We are looking forward to our centenary year in 2012 which will see us working even closer with industry customers to make classification (whether statutory, voluntary, physical or digital) easier and quicker, while maintaining the same rigorous levels of child protection and provision of information and support to a standard and richness which we believe to be a world-leader."
Whither music DVDs? The publication of the Bailey report this week, Letting Children Be Children, which looked at the commercialisation and s*xualisation of childhood, recommended that the government look into the exemption of music DVDs and Blu-rays from certification. The report stated: "Government should consult as a matter of priority on whether music videos should continue to be treated differently from other genres, and whether the exemption from the Video Recordings Act 1984 and 2010, which allows them to be sold without a rating or certificate, should be removed. As well as ensuring hard copy sales are only made on an age-appropriate basis, removal of the exemption would assist broadcasters and internet companies in ensuring that the content is made available responsibly." One record company executive we spoke to off the record said that "any additional red tape or expense would probably finish music DVD off", adding that only the really big releases would be viable.
From the 360 event, it was a short journey up Whitehall and beyond to 2 entertain's office to hear about some of the highlights from the company's forthcoming Q3 slate. First up is its crack at the summer fitness market, with a series of 10 DVDs under the Fit In 5-20 Minutes banner. All will retail around the £5 barrier and the range comes after extensive research from 2e into what customers wanted. July sees The Proms arriving on DVD, featuring the full Last Night… event, Land Of Hope And Glory and all, and is being issued due to popular demand. There's the new crime series Scott And Bailey and, as featured on here previously, the new series of Primeval, appearing ahead of its transmission on ITV early next year, which gives it a real USP. In August comes Angry Boys, the new series from Chris Lilley creator of Summer Heights High. The series started on BBC3 this week and if you didn't catch it, it's highly recommended. There's a new series of Spiral, which should perform on the back of the success of programmes such as The Killing and the Dominic (The Wire) West vehicle The Hour. Only Fools And Horses is celebrating its 30th anniversary, with plenty of promotional activity, while The Queens Palace and Empire can ride on the back of the 80,000 selling Royal Wedding release and all the surrounding goodwill. September sees a Ken Loach At The BBC box set arriving to tie in with a season at the BFI Southbank, the box will feature the seminal Cathy Come Home and a wealth of previously unavailable material. And also on the horizon is a new series of Torchwood, as well as, even further down the line, the next part of Doctor Who.
Even before it officially gets into Q3, 2 entertain is pretty busy as it stands. One of the next releases from the company is Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, the rather wonderful late night stand-up show featuring the immensely talented Lee and produced in association with such names as Armando Ianucci (who we bumped into in 2e's offices, incidentally) and Chris Morris. Lee's show, which hilariously deconstructs the stand-up's craft, boasts an impressive word of mouth and has already earned him the rare plaudit of a comment piece in The Guardian, a real rarity for someone of his ilk. Keep an eye out for more in that same paper as well as elsewhere, Lee is carrying out a series of interviews today.
Staying with 2 entertain, we've been spotting its press ads recently for programmes such as Ideal, the Johnny Vegas sitcom that's recently returned to BBC3. The ad was promoting the availability of iTunes episodes of the series as they aired, and also tagged at the bottom, the box set DVDs of previous outings of the programme. It's not the first time it's done such promotional activity – Doctor Who has been among the series to benefit from such advertising. What's more it's incremental spend too, 2 entertain will still be marketing the release of the seventh series around its July 25 release.
To York Hall, Bethnal Green, east London, one of the spiritual homes of UK boxing, for the launch of Momentum's The Fighter on DVD and Blu-ray, due out on June 20. The company hosted a special screening of the Oscar-winning film, attended by scores of beefy boxers, an assortment of gorgeous women, a smattering of retailers and, fulfilling none of the above criteria, The Raygun. Among those we spotted were tabloid favourites Alex Reid and his new squeeze, Chantelle Houghton, who were officially stepping out together for the first time, which should garner coverage for the film ahead of its release (see some examples here and here. The title itself was shown on four screens on each side of a boxing ring and gave a proper premiere feel to a film that had already come out at theatrical. Momentum's Adam Eldrett said: " With such a long time now since those Academy Awards we thought this was a unique way to kick of the DVD & BD campaign properly ahead of release on June 20. Screening the film in one of the most famous boxing rings in the world provided a really unique experience for our guests. Some seeing the film for the first time, others along for the show and frankly to see the film again, the word of mouth on The Fighter is probably greater than any film I have ever worked on, I am yet to meet anyone who does not like it. I was delighted with the event last night and it has led to a real up shoot of coverage this morning as Alex and Chantelle hit the press on and offline. We had over 450 people around the ring last night with the immaculate fight scenes providing the real highlight of the screening, there was something quite visceral about it all, hard to tell where the screen stopped and the real ropes began. The hardcore carried on into the small hours making the post of our 'post fight treatment room' which as you can imagine was a raucous affair." We'll be getting some pix from the event up on the website shortly…
Talking of combatative releases, Clear Vision is gearing up for a couple of big forthcoming releases, in the shape of the biggest event on the WWE calendar, Wrestlemania and another title from the WWE's fledgling studio operation. Wrestlemania 27 is due on July 4 and the event has, over the past eight years, generated some £10 million in retail sales. The fact that it combines the best of the old WWE – The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, both familiar names to anyone in our business through not just the WWE but their feature film appearances – and the new family friendly offering (as we've noted here before, the title carries a 12 certificate, rather than the previous 15 and 18 classifications, means that it straddles both markets. Clear Vision's Ben Stanley said: "As a result of Wrestlemania moving away from a 15 rating to a 12, response through the kids media has been really positive and this is an area we are working strongly on with features, interviews and reviews."
A week later comes the next film release from the WWE, That's What I Am. It's another PG-rated release and stars Ed Harris and, from the WWE world, Randy Orton. It's a nostalgic school days tale that's strongly reminiscent of the likes of Stand By Me and seminal TV series The Wonder Years. It's already benefited from a theatrical release and promotional activity with Empire magazine, as well as trailers airing during the recent WWE tour of the UK. As Clear Vision's Ben Stanley said: "The media response has been really strong, it's working well with kids' publications and national press, and has credibility gained through movie press as a result of Ed Harris’ role."
The biggest event on horror film fans' calendar, The Film4 FrightFest, has announced its opening and closing films for the 2011 event, due to take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend at the Empire in London's Leicester Square. The Guillermo del Toro-produced Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark, due from Optimum, will open the event on the Thursday, while Kaleidoscope's A Lonely Place To Die will be the final film of the long weekend. Kaleidoscope's Spencer Pollard said: "We are delighted to be chosen as the closing night's film at Frightfest this year. We've enjoyed a great relationship with the festival over the last three years and to have the final film at this year's festival - without doubt the biggest and best to date, it's a real honour."
Another company that includes horror in its portfolio is production outfit Black & Blue Films, headed up by Jonathan Sothcott. The company has this week announced that it is launching a label in partnership with 4Digital Media. The imprint will release some of Black & Blue's own productions, as well as acquiring titles for release. First from the label is Stalker, the directorial debut of Martin Kemp. Sothcott said: "4Digital Media has been a trusted distribution partner of mine for three years and it is natural for us to extend that partnership with this venture, I have always intended to grow Black & Blue into a mini studio and having a guaranteed end user for product that we deliver and source gives comfort for both film makers and financiers. I believe that in addition to our films we can bring highly commercial, cutting-edge product to audiences that will have the feel of Black and Blue’s own productions." 4Digital's Tony Taglienti added: "As we move ahead in these unpredictable but exciting times, partnering with Jonathan Sothcott and Simon Phillips to bring in premium product is a clear step forward. The guys at Black & Blue are dynamic, proactive and commercially-minded and I think together we can create a label where film makers can feel protected and taken seriously and audiences can expect fun genre films that deliver."
Revolver, currently enjoying significant success with Fire In Babylon (see top of the newsletter) is to release Talihina Sky: The Story Of Kings Of Leon on DVD later this year after acquiring the film for release. The film will bow at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 25 with the band in attendance. The film, and subsequent Q&A will be beamed around to 150 sites around the contry on the night. Revolver's Justin Marciano said: "Kings of Leon are undoubtedly the biggest band in the world at the moment. We’re anticipating a huge response from fans across the country as we beam the film across a record 150 screens. It will take audiences to the heart of the band’s powerful backstory."
LOVEFiLM has extended its partnership with Disney into Germany, inking transactional and subscription video on demand deals with the studio. LOVEFiLM subscribers in the territory will be able to rent and stream Disney films at no extra cost to subscribers paying €7.29 a month, while other titles will be available through the premium pay per view service. LOVEFiLM's Simon Calver said: "Our German customers now have the option to stream more great films, extending our existing online catalogue. Disney is one of the world’s leading studios and it is testament to LOVEFiLM that we are continuing to strengthen our partnership. We look forward to working closely with Disney in the future to expand our services and provide even more content for our members."
We'll end with some good news, or at least more cheering than the usual depressing figures coming from the US, as an NPD Group report suggests that while Blu-ray won't replace DVD, it is at least growing. The report says that 15 per cent of US consumers are now using a Blu-ray, up from nine per cent the previous year. NPD analyst Russ Crupnick said: "While Blu-ray may not be the replacement for DVD that many once hoped for, it is certainly adding strength to the physical video-disc market."
EVENTS OF THE WEEK
We bade a fond farewell to departing Disney general manager Anthony Peet and wish him all the best for the future… We also got to see Kung Fu Panda 2 at the film's premiere at the Westfield shopping centre on Sunday; our junior correspondent rated it as excellent, we loved it too…
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"[A] movie has to work in theaters. We used to have the backup of home video, but that’s gone. We're working without a net until VOD and some of the Internet solutions mature, because right now they're certainly not replacing DVD. You have to admire Netflix for the progressive attitude they have toward the business, because at the core they are movie fans… The more companies like that we have, the better off we are – not like these Silicon Valley companies that look at movies as product."
Hollywood bigshot Harvey Weinstein holds forth on vod and the state of the industry…
AT THE MOVIES
X-Men: First Class stormed to the top of the box office chart in the UK, with an opening weekend haul of £5.44 million. Other new entries included JLS Eyes Wide Open which took just under £500,000 and, continuing the impressive performance for motor sport docs this year, Senna, which took £375,173. Ready was the other new entry, with an opening frame of £236,868. The Hangover Part II is now up to more than £21 million, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is now up to £26,693,930.
More from the bizarre case surrounding Ed Helms' facial tattoo in current box office hit The Hangover Part II. We reported a few weeks back that tattoo artist S Victor Whitmill was suing Warner for copyright infringement of the tattoo, which he originally created for Mike Tyson. His attempt to block the film came to naught, but the legal spat continues and a judge has said he stands a good chance of winning. And in papers filed with the court this week Warner has said it will digitally remove the tattoo from Helms' face for the DVD and Blu-ray release, mooted for December, if the row can't be resolved…
Another comedy doing the business at the box office is Bridesmaids and its strong US box office opening is already having a knock-on effect. Many industry insiders are already predicting a run of sweary, grown-up comedies aimed at women to follow in its wake, while Universal is also set to make another comedy from the team behind the film, director Paul Feig (the creator of Freaks And Geeks) and producer Judd Apatow. No word yet as to what the film will be about…
Films based on board games and toys are all the rage, what, with another Transformers film due this summer, as well as forthcoming Universal productions Battleship and Stretch Armstrong further down the line too. The latest to get the big screen treatment will be Risk. Sony will be releasing the film, and has this week brought in John Hlavin, writer of The Shield and Underworld: New Dawn for the action thriller… Meanwhile, we're waiting for the Hungry Hippos film to come along…
SITE OF THE WEEK
Competition of the week came from Icon for it forthcoming Mel Gibson starrer The Beaver… http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=7289588&id=321530661844 Ours has turned up now and it's ace.
Meanwhile, we've also enjoyed reading Rotten Tomatoes this week, mainly for this excellent 10 Commandments For Movie Audiences feature…
TWEET OF THE WEEK
We've been reading Simon Pegg's plugs for Monday's home entertainment release of Paul (and picked this up from there) and were amazed to see the BBFC and Human centipede trending too… Follow us at www.twitter.com/theraygun
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
Twilight trailer released, teenage girls everywhere swoon…
The opening FrightFest feature…
New Holy Rollers trailer:
Bit of an oddity this, a pro-life film starring (Oh my god, it's) Robert Loggia. Honestly…
You've got to be on the facebook that they have these days to view this, but it's worthwhile…
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