NEWSLETTER :: November 19 2010
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It was a good week for… The TV sector continues to excel, with, at the opposite end of the spectrum from recent hits The Pacific and Inbetweeners, Universal Playback's Downton Abbey coming to the fore…

It was a bad week for… Internet protection, as a portion of the new Harry Potter film, Deathly Hallows, and a Blu-ray quality Torrent of Inception both surfaced online… And apologies for the delay in this week's newsletter, technical difficulties with that pesky Internet thing…

Signifiers that things are getting serious: have you clocked the number of ads on TV and in the national press for DVD and Blu-ray releases over the past seven days? Take Monday's edition of The Sun, if you don't believe us (and this is in order of appearance reading from the front of the tabloid) which had the following ads: a half page for Morrisons with two audio releases and Clarkson: The Italian Job and John Bishop's live debut (both 2 entertain), Rhod Gilbert's latest stand-up release (4DVD) and Sony's The Karate Kid; a third of a page from HMV (all music releases though); a half page from Blockbuster, featuring Michael McIntyre, Billy Connolly (both Universal), The Karate Kid and assorted Blu-rays; a half page for How To Train Your Dragon flagging Asda's exclusive deal; a SPHE quarter page tagged by Morrisons; a Warner quarter page for Star Wars The Clone Wars season two, tagged by HMV; and ITV Studios Home Entertainment's Emmerdale soap bubble. And that was just one newspaper. We were also impressed with 4DVD's front page spots on the Metro, and we also saw a solus iTunes tagged TV ad for a film two (The Karate Kid).

Another thing we noticed from reading through the papers: it was interesting to see full page ads in the national press last week pushing Tesco's pre-orders on DVD and games. The quartet of DVD releases took in two out on November 29, The A-Team (Fox, £9.99) and Sex And The City 2 (Warner, £11.99) and two out on December 6, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (eOne, £9.93) and Inception (Warner, £9.99).

Over to eOne's offices, where we had a look through the company's schedule for the first quarter of 2011… It is offering a strong selection of canny DVD premieres and big theatrical releases. The former category includes Death Wave (out in January, billed as the next Tidal Wave, a big DTV hit), the music documentary Lemmy (January, more on this soon, but the film about the Motorhead singer really is excellent); Stranded (January, a war cum horror film); My Dad's Six Wives (February, a romcom with a strong cast); Exorcismus (February, from the producers of Rec and with the subject matter of the day for the horror sector); Under The Mountain (February, a family adventure with state of the art special effects from the company behind Lord Of The Rings); Shellshock (February, a Colin Farrell war film); and the wonderfully cast Love Ranch (March, starring Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci and set in a Nevada brothel). On the theatrically released side, there's January's Baaria, from Guiseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso etc); family horror The Hole, on January 17, which comes with a wealth of strong reviews; Howard Marks biopic Mr Nice (January 31); rock biopic The Runaways, starring some of Hollywood's hottest young talent (February); the £6 million plus comic book adaptation Red (February) and documentary Waste Land. There's also children's product with Humf And The Big Boots And Other Furry Tales, following the franchise's successful launch this year (20,000 plus units and counting). eOne’s head of marketing Matt Brightwell commented: ”Entertainment One’s strength is its varied slate of high quality programming in all genres. Q1 2011 promises to be an exciting quarter, getting the year off to a strong start with varied highlights from the second instalment of pre-school favourite Humf, our rock documentary Lemmy, and the box office hits The Hole and Red."  


We mentioned Lemmy above and the film was one of our highlights of this year's LFF, read about this, and a whole lot more, in our website feature 10 Things We Learnt From This Year's London Film Festival, live at now. Also on the website this week: some clips, trailers, free stuff we've been sent, a full report on last week's Doctor Who event and signing at HMV and a full round-up of last weekend's press coverage. Oh, and we've also got a new My Inspiration from an industry legend going up shortly… for more…

LOVEFiLM has said it has had a huge demand following the unveiling last week of its service that bought LOVEFiLM to the PlayStation 3, offering owners the chance to stream films through the console on to their TV. It automatically bought the online retailer into an extra 3 million homes and while the company was still analysing the figures, it seems as if the take-up was promising (at one point, the sheer demand caused one or two minor hiccups, according to LOVEFiLM's own Twitter account, but there was no serious problem). The offering was put together in conjunction with Pushbutton and is part of an ongoing partnership that will see the pair developing more interactive content applications and the likes. And it will further fuel LOVEFiLM's international rollout too. As LOVEFiLM group digital officer Lesley Mackenzie said: "This announcement allows LOVEFiLM to build upon our leadership in launching compelling and ground-breaking video content on many different platforms."

Back to Q4, and thousands of teens attending this weekend's T4 Stars Of 2010 event at Earl's Court will be treated to the rather special sight of Keith Lemon cavorting around on stage with co-star Deanne Berry and famous names like The Saturdays and The Wanted doing a demo workout. The reason? It's to promote Liongate's release the next day of Keith Lemon's Fit, the spoof fitness DVD from the star of ITV's Celebrity Juice (and the creator of Bo! Selecta). The stunt is part of an extensive campaign and will not only feature at the live event, but is certain to be included in follow up footage aired on Channel 4. Lionsgate's Kaz Mills said: "We at Lionsgate are so excited about the upcoming release of Keith Lemon’s Fit. Since it was filmed in September, we have worked tirelessly to create a standout marketing and publicity campaign – highlights include personalised messages from Keith Lemon to retail buyers, a controversial appearance on This Morning, a 100+ TVR campaign, securing a free pizza on-pack for every DVD purchased, as well as what’s set to be a fantastic T4 Stars of 2010 appearance. We couldn’t be happier with the campaign and hope to see really positive results next week." Keep an eye out for further PR too, Lemon is, said agency Romley Davies, "every publicist's dream" and will appear in men's and women's press, and programmes as diverse as Loose Women, Soccer AM and This Morning, as well as radio and online.


On an all together different note, last weekend played host to a rather more decorous affair, as Optimum continued its series of reissues of new cleaned up versions of some of the finest titles in its catalogue, with a high profile event. Director Martin Scorsese took part in a couple of special events to help promote the release of Peeping Tom on Blu-ray for the first time, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Michael Powell's classic. This included a BAFTA event and an In Conversation evening at the Curzon Soho with Scorsese and his editor, and Powell's widow, Thelma Schoonmaker and the pair have each done a number of interviews with press, TV and radio, taking in the likes of The Observer, Film 2010, Little White Lies and Empire online. Optimum's Candy Vincent-Smith said: "The Blu-ray has been receiving some great early reviews for the quality of the picture, which bodes well for future restorations and Blu-ray releases Optimum has planned for 2011, including Brighton Rock, Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Ice Cold In Alex, The Cruel Sea, Whiskey Galore!, The Lavender Hill Mob, Quatermass And The Pit and Kind Hearts And Coronets."

More restoration news, as the BFI prepares to release a whopping four-disc box set of the earliest works of legendary comic Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin At Keystone will arrive on December 6 and is the culmination of eight years' work from the BFI and other organisations, which have painstakingly reconstructed the films, made from 1914 onwards, as well as adding new musical accompaniments. BFI's James Blackford said: "
It has truly been a combined effort to restore and release the amazing 34 surviving films that Chaplin made at the legendary Keystone studios. This pioneering release has seen the BFI team up with the very best in international film preservation – from the UCLA Film and Television Archive to the L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna." Speaking of the BFI, The Raygun was also down at the BFI Southbank this week to see the launch of its latest documentary strand, This Working Life: Tales From The Shipyard, which will form a touring project and accompanying DVD due on February 14. It celebrates our shipbuilding heritage and features footage dating back more than 100 years and also includes Sean Connery's one and only turn as a director, The Bowler And The Bunnet, about shipbuilding on the Clyde.

Last week's newsletter, we were talking all about Doctor Who's in-store appearance, this time round, it's been another old TV favourite, The Goodies, appearing at the retailer's flagship London store in Oxford Street. The trio, Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor, were reunited to sign copies of Network's new release featuring the comedy legendy. Network's Tim Beddows said: "The Goodies has been one of our most successful comedy brands at the label and we are delighted to have renewed the license with BBC Worldwide. The reaction from fans of the series has been fantastic and we are also hoping that a whole new generation will discover the slapstick humour of The Goodies which is revered by many of today’s top comedians and actors including Mark Gattiss, Reece Shearsmith, Phill Jupitus, Noel Fielding and Martin Freeman."

Also signing at HMV: John Bishop appeared at the retailer's Liverpool ONE store to sign copies of this week's 2 entertain release, the comic's first. Some 400 or more fans queued up to see the stand-up, and there was resulting coverage in both the Liverpool Post and the city's Daily Echo. 2 entertain sales director Brian Hill said: "
It’s been a good week for us, we’ve launched three of our biggest titles in to the market – John Bishop Live, An Idiot Abroad and Clarkson: The Italian Job – and we’re delighted with the initial sales figures coming through. John Bishop went down a storm with his home crowd at HMV on Tuesday following a day of PR on launch day.  So far, John is really leading the stand-up pack which is exactly where we wanted to be. It’s also been a great week for Karl Pilkington and the launch of An Idiot Abroad – we expect this title to build from here as gifting grows and be one of the big Q4 sellers.”

2 entertain have been keeping us at The Raygun busy; this week we were at the Cineworld cinema in London's Haymarket for the premiere of next week's Eddie Izzard documentary Believe. The film played not only at this cinema, it was beamed to cinemas around the country and Izzard, director Sarah Townsend and Phill Jupitus took part on a Q&A which followed. And, naturally, the release of the DVD, which has been nominated for an Emmy in the US, was heavily plugged. The film itself chronicles Izzard's career and is, by turns, funny and moving. It also looks at the Watchdog controversy, in which the campaigning consumer show berated Izzard for including similar jokes on his DVDs and live stage shows.   



With the high profile marketing – we've seen the TV spot loads this week – and PR elements (a big giveaway in Sunday's News Of The World), you can't have failed to notice that the Extended Collector's Edition of Avatar was released this week, but there was one element of the campaign that really caught our eye. Sat nav manufacturer Garmin has produced customised directions for its kit, which includes the similarly titled nuvi, in the Na'vi language spoken in the film. The directions (or rather "tikan"), which can be downloaded here and added to consumers' sat navs, were put together by the UK's self-styled number one Avatar fan Richard Littauer, aka Taronyu. Garmin's head of communications Anthony Chmarny said: "The Na’Vi voice is a bit of fun to help celebrate the release of the Extended Collector’s Edition of AVATAR. It’s great and I’m sure it will bring a smile to your face when trying to get from A to B whilst using your Garmin nüvi sat nav."

Last week we reported on Arrow's acquisitions at this year's AFM and the independent has this week confirmed that it has signed one of the most sought after horror titles around after inking a deal to release Hatchet 2 in the UK. The first film, from Adam Green, one of the brightest genre talents around, has sold more than 60,000 units to date in the UK, and the sequel has already proved to be hugely controversial in the US – it is rated as one of the best slashers of recent years. The title will be released next year.  

Also from Arrow: the company is hosting a special screening of its forthcoming release Demons at the next Midnight Movies event at London's Curzon Soho cinema next Friday (November 26). As ever, the event will be more than just a film, with free drinks for early arrivers, and a (fancy) dress code of 80s fashion, with Arrow DVD giveaways for the best. As Midnight Movies' Michael said: "Midnight Movies have become great launches for cult DVDs, giving them the big screen treatment that restorations or rediscoveries deserve, complete with themed bar, live music and fancy dress de rigeur. Working with enthusiastic home entertainment departments at Revolver, Arrow and Eureka has been a joy, and reciprocal marketing has seen a healthy rise in pre-sales and orders. Midnight movies has returned to London night life and offering cult movie connoisseurs a uniquely cinematic experience."

So, what's the best gift to get this Christmas? Not a blender, coffee machine, shaver or bread-maker, according to a new survey carried out by the BVA. Rather, it suggested this week in an announcement aimed at driving interest in new technology and formats, consumers should be looking for Blu-ray players, BD-friendly Sony PlayStation 3 consoles, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, 3D TVs, iPod Touch devices and the new MacBook Air. The survey suggested that one on three people have received electronic gifts they hardly ever, or never use. The BVA enlisted The Gadget Show TV presenter Jon Bentley, who said: "While the perfect gadget gift is a personal thing, there are some general rules of thumb to getting it right. A product that’s worthwhile and likely to be satisfying rather than a gimmick that seems clever at the time is a good bet, such as games consoles that let you play Blu-rays and DVDs as well as games, or internet-enabled mobile phones." The BVA's Simon Heller added: "Many of the gadget gaffs cited by our study are gifts that have a lot of novelty appeal, but perhaps a limited shelf life. A candy-floss maker is great for beating those Boxing Day blues, but a games console or 3D Blu-ray player are future-proof. They’re gifts you’ll go back to all year round."

As anyone with under-fives will willingly testify, kids love trains. So it's no surprise to see Universal inking a deal with twofour54 that will see it releasing Driver Dan's Story Train, a relatively new franchise that is already earning fans on UK TV screens. The deal will see the first Driver Dan DVD being released next year, as part of a consumer retail roll out (it has also inked a master toy deal). The brand is notable as creator twofour54 is an Abu Dhabi government-backed initiative aimed at making it a cultural and media hub in the Middle East. It is headed by former UK video industry executive Wayne Borg, who said: "Our aim with the brand was to demonstrate to the Middle East media industry how to build a global children’s brand and create a successful business through 360 degree exploitation of the IP. With the range of books at retail, a fully interactive website in both English and Arabic languages, a master toy deal and home entertainment projects, we are well on our way to creating a case study to show how the region can play a part in the development of global children’s characters." Universal's Eddie Cunningham added: "Driver Dan’s Story Train is a unique brand that has already established itself with TV audiences and consumers alike. We are thrilled to be bringing Driver Dan to the DVD and to be working with such ambitious partners." See the character here:

And we'll end with some recruitment news from Metrodome, which has appointed Martina Ternstrom to the role of acquisitions executive. She will work alongside acquisitions manager Giles Edwards and under head of acquisitions and production James Brown. She has previously worked for The Works in the UK and Magnolia Pictures in the US.


"I think one of the keys to Warner's success is the Harry Potter film franchise which they have been making. There is a great tip and key for film-makers here. That is, we have got to make films that people want to watch and films which will benefit beyond themselves as they will also encourage people to come and visit our country." David Cameron, responding to a query at Prime Minister's Question Time, tells the British film industry what it should be doing.

The second series of Channel 4's Misfits continues to pull in new audiences and 4DVD is now gearing up for the December 27 release. The work has already begun, as 4DVD partnered with its broadcast publicity team to hold assorted interviews across magazines and newspapers, both tabloid and broadsheet. It will also be jointly hosting an Apple in-store Q&A, which follows a similar event hosted by Jonathan Ross at the BFI South Bank. And, continued 4DVD's Karla Berry: "We have planned an extensive online advertising campaign across MSN and Spotify which worked really well last year, and added further coverage across Facebook, Channel, and 4OD as traffic is particularly high in the period directly after Christmas."

Momentum's Skyline, part of a wave of alien invasion films, had a strong opening, taking £1.2 million in its opening weekend,although it was not enough to displace Due Date, which held on to the top slot and has now taken £5.75 million at UK cinemas.

Still riding high at the UK box office is Paranormal Activity 2, which has now taken more than £10 million. And with a performance like that, with a still relatively low budget for the film itself (although not nearly as small as the cost of the first film in the franchise), it's no surprise to see a third film is now being talked about. And it'll follow the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" formula, with the same low budget feel as its predecessor and the same team behind the camera. The film is due from Paramount around Halloween 2011. The DVD and Blu-ray of the current hit is due from Paramount in the first part of next year.        
Most intriguing story of the week comes from Amazon, which is getting into the movie-making business. Its Amazon Studios launched this week, asking writers and film-makers to upload scripts and test films to the site (here). And if visitors to the site like them, and there's enough interest, then they could be turned into the real thing, Amazon has inked a first look deal with Warner for the initiative. Rumours are circulating that Netflix wants to get into the same game too…

 Our favourite story of the week doesn't include any thing relating to forthcoming product, but it tickled us anyway. Director Tom Shadyac, behind the likes of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty and Liar Liar has, according to reports, ditched his career, moved into a trailer park and started giving away all his hard-earned loot. He's seen the light and, in producing a documentary rather than his normal blockbuster comedy fare, denounced society's obsession with the self and making money. Like his comedies and, er, Hollywood. So that could be it. Now we loved Bruce Almighty, but despite Steve Carell's presence Evan Almighty was the most expensive comedy ever and, to put it kindly, not the best. And we're still annoyed at being manipulated by Patch Adams, which made us cry on a plane. But you've got to admire his honesty…  
The Oscar race is now properly up and running, as the shortlist was unveiled for the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award this week. Among those in the running are Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop (Revolver) and Restrepo (Dogwoof), as well as Waste Land, due next year from eOne (see above).  
The Crimestoppers organisation has launched a new website aimed at persuading the public about the dangers in buying fake, pirate and counterfeit goods. The site lists the reasons for not buying these and pays close attention to DVD piracy, after working in conjunction with the Federation Against Copyright Theft. Have a look here FACT's Eddy Leviten said: "FACT has been a partner with Crimestoppers for three years and the benefits are immense especially in delivering high quality intelligence that can help build investigations."


Now we're getting our flashy new phone sorted, expect us to be tweeting while we're sat in cinemas waiting for the stars to turn up at premieres and the likes… Follow us at

Danny McBride, comedy genius.

This has caused a fair amount of Internet chatter this week…

As has this, check the CGI suit…

And on the eve of Toy Story 3, arriving on DVD and Blu-ray, here's another big Pixar franchise.

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