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It Was A Good Week For... The BVA unveiled its impressive #MovieWeekender promotion…
It Was A Bad Week For… Netflix users in the UK using sneaky methods to log on to the service in the US and other territories…
Barely days after announcing the 2015 year-end figures, the BVA was busy again this week with another major announcement. For the organisation has helped marshall a major cross promotion which will see its members working with Bauer Media and its assorted channels for 11 weeks. The cross-distributor promotion represents a six-figure investment from the industry and sees members including Fox, Warner, Universal, SPHE, Disney, Paramount, Lionsgate, Studiocanal, eOne and Koch working with the organisation and Bauer to push both physical and Digital HD formats. The campaign comes under the banner (and hashtag, natch) of #MovieWeekender, and, from Thursdays onwards, will be using Bauer Media’s assorted outlets to persuade consumers to think about their weekend film viewing and purchases. The industry first takes in the likes of Kiss, Absolute, Magic, Heat and Empire and will hammer home the message to some 22 million Bauer readers and listeners. As well as activity across radio (live presenter-endorsement, film discussions), digital (working with and press, including a monthly DPS in Empire, it will further offer up a prize to offer Bauer consumers the chance to have a perfect MovieWeekender. Commenting on the promotion, the BVA’s Liz Bales said: “We wanted to create a campaign that increased penetration amongst new and lapsed buyers of home entertainment and to re-ignite the weekend as the perfect occasion to buy new movies on Blu-ray, DVD or Digital HD to enjoy at home. With winter creeping in, now is the perfect time to be launching this campaign and Bauer is the ideal partner. The campaign uses the power of new release video content and the strength of Bauer’s audience network to re-engage consumers in buying video content to enjoy again and again. This is a significant initiative from the BVA and its Members, it is the biggest cross industry video campaign of this nature and our aspiration is that #MovieWeekender will become a standalone brand that consumers connect with and that further drives demand for owning content.” 
Further comment on the initiative came from Bauer executives, client sales director Krissie Ford said: “Bauer Media’s flagship brands are some of the biggest in entertainment and our audiences’ interest in this area fits perfectly with the aim of BVA - to amplify UK consumers’ love for home entertainment. We’ve worked closely with BVA and its members to provide them with insight from brands that are rich in pop-culture knowledge and to deliver a campaign that resonates with our audiences in order to maximise engagement.” On the distributor side, Fox’s head of publicity and promotions Liz Silverstone said: “The #MovieWeekender campaign demonstrates a clear commitment to collective working from across the home entertainment industry and enables us to continue to build and drive the overall category together yet also maintain control of individual title releases. In addition to the halo effect of the promotional campaign, coming together in this way allows the studios to unlock economies of scale and demand a greater editorial share of voice. Fundamentally this is an industry first approach with a large media voice that will deliver a strong ROI and set up opportunities for further activation.”
Before we move on to other news, sticking briefly with FindAnyFilm, and the service has further improved as EST release dates are being added to the site. It’s not comprehensive yet, with information now starting to come through from distributors aimed at making it even more complete. After EST, the next stage will include vod and UHD dates… You can see more here

On to our weekly sales update from the Official Charts Company, and Universal looks to have kicked off 2016 much the same way it ended the previous year. As we reported last week, the major finished 2015 as the leading distributor, dominating the market share. And according to the Official Charts midweek bulletin, its latest biggie, Straight Outta Compton, the NWA biopic, is leading the way this week with sales of more than 33,000 up to Wednesday. It heads up a raft of new entries, with both No Escape and Sherlock The Abominable Bride, at numbers two and three respectively, both shifting units into the five figure mark (more on Sherlock below). Fitness titles are again booming, with Lorraine Kelly and Davina McCall at numbers four and five and Zumba at nine. 45 Years (again see below) is in at six, while the first Star Wars films have enjoyed another boost too, up to number 10. Outside of that, other notable new entries include And Then There Were None, True Detective and Labyrinth, the latter propelled by the tragic death of David Bowie…
Back to Universal then, and Straight Outta Compton marks another achievement for the company, which also sees some of its fitness titles in the top 10. And Monday October 18 is another busy day for the studio, with titles such as Everest and M Night Shyamalan’s The Visit both arriving in stores on physical formats. Commenting on its continued run of success, Universal’s Vicki Davis said: “It's great to be starting the new year with two very different biographical dramas - the amazing story of NWA, Straight Outta Compton, which we've been supporting this week with TV, radio and Vevo activity, getting a fantastic response from consumers, and the action-packed Everest, which we're hoping will reach new heights next week due to brilliant retail support, a breathtaking 3D Blu-ray and gripping TV ads, plus a partnership with the National Geographic Channel.”
Sherlock The Abominable Bride’s home entertainment sales, above the 10,000 mark in its first few days on release, mark another hugely impressive achievement for BBC Worldwide’s Benedict Cumberbatch-led adaptation. The Christmas special, already crowned homegrown TV hit of the season, pulling in 11.6 million viewers, has been a huge success on a global level. It’s been seen by some 5 million people across territories such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where it was released at cinemas. In China, its box office haul totalled more than £13 million, in Korea it was approaching £5 million. Similar theatrical releases saw it scoring big across the board – in the US it bested even Star Wars The Force Awakens in terms of its per screen average. There were further similar stories from Australia, Poland Russia and even the UK, where a simulcast at cinemas as it aired on TV drew 18,600 fans at 127 cinemas. Worldwide’s head of drama brands Sally de St Croix said: “The intention was always to give Sherlock: The Abominable Bride a limited release to amplify the TV moment and create a piece of event cinema for fans to enjoy.  We never expected it to outshine major Hollywood franchises at the box office and couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.” Commenting on its UK performance, BBC Worldwide’s Katie Hibbs added: ”After topping the Christmas viewing figures it's great to have one of the nation’s favourite detectives back. Support for the franchise has with our home entertainment retail partners has been fantastic.”

As you must all be aware, Oscar nominations were announced this week, and many observers saw what was considered a major wrong being righted, as Charlotte Rampling was given a Best Actress nod for her role in 45 Years. Both this and the BAFTA announcements tied in neatly with the film’s release through the Curzon Artificial Eye set up, with the film’s plaudits and appearance on numerous year-end Best Of lists helping it to an impressive showing in its first week. It marks a busy first quarter for the company too, one that this week alone saw the wildly differing 45 Years and Love coming out, the latter in a 3D Blu-ray SKU too. Commenting on the release, the company’s Paul Diment said: “Following on from its colossal performance at the UK box office, 45 Years was released on DVD and Blu-ray this week and benefitted not only from the recent BAFTA nomination for Outstanding British Film, but also yesterday's Oscar announcement, which included a Best Actress Nomination for Charlotte Rampling's breathtaking performance. We supported our release with a national press and social media campaign which will continue to run throughout this week. We're the fourth highest new entry in this weeks official charts, and we'll easily pass our week one forecast. Support from retailers has been strong, especially from the supermarkets, plus HMV and Fopp where you see some eye catching window posters. Sales have also been strong on vod platforms. Also released this week is Gaspar Noé's  controversial Love, which is also proving to be a sales winner, even with limited distribution. The Oscar winning Still Alice is still present in the official UK charts after 28 weeks, and now becomes the fastest selling title in the company's history. January 25 we'll be re-releasing  another Oscar winning hit – William Hurt received his Best Actor Oscar for the classic  Kiss Of The Spiderwoman, which will be released as a two-disc DVD set and and Blu-ray which will be making its UK debut. Both formats feature nearly three hours of bonus material.”
As the awards season moves into top gear, with nominations announced over the past week, music documentary Amy – which, as we noted last week here, was the bestselling music release of 2015 – looks like it’s getting a second wind. The film sold 123,000 copies in 2015, but has this week been given a further boost thanks to its nods in the best documentary category in the Oscars, as well as helping Ms Winehouse pick up a posthumous nomination for the Best Female gong at the Brits. This latest round of nominations adds to the two last week for the BAFTAs for both best documentary and British film. Channel 4’s transmission of the film last week has further helped spark a revival in sales and all this activity will keep the film in the public’s eye for weeks to come, helping extend its sales. Altitude Films’ James Warren said: “It’s been an incredible week for Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees and the team with a slew of well-deserved nominations. We always planned for a long-running campaign and hoped it would encourage a reevaluation and celebration of Amy Winehouse and the Brit nomination feels like an affirmation of this. For the film to still be resonating with people eight months later, and to an even wider audience through our partners Channel 4, is phenomenal"
A pirate who sold counterfeit box sets of popular TV programmes such as Breaking Bad, Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire has been found guilty of copyright infringement after FACT joined forces with PIPCU. Investigators discovered Adeel Arshad, of Birmingham, was selling snide DVDs on the Internet and accruing cash totalling more than £100,000 through various PayPal accounts.  PIPCU detective Peter Ratcliffe said: “Had it not been for the identification and swift intervention by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and Federation Against Copyright Theft, many more unsuspecting customers would have been duped by Arshad into believing that the DVDs were genuine. We know that the money generated in the fake goods industry also funds gangs who are often affiliated with serious organised crime. Whilst the majority of web based sales are legitimate, PIPCU monitor a multitude of sales sites to ensure that online shoppers are dealing with vendors who are selling genuine goods. Protecting British consumers and the creative industry from criminals who break copyright laws and exploit the public’s trust remains a priority for the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and the Intellectual Property Office.” FACT’s Kieron Sharp added: “The creative industries support more than 1.8 million jobs in the UK, however criminal operations such as Arshad’s counterfeit DVD business, deprives the film and TV industry of revenue and puts the livelihoods of those working in it at risk.”
The government’s plans to introduce a 10 year sentence for online copyright infringement aren’t going down too well with the Great British public. For according to the results of a consultation published this week, only a handful of people, most from organisations, supported the plans to increase the maximum sentence from two years in jail up to 10. Some 98 per cent opposed the terms. Most of those, however, came from a form put together b the Open Rights Group. The Intellectual Property Office’s report concluded: “Ten years is too high; copyright infringement is not a serious crime.” It did, however, add: “Change would act as a powerful deterrent to those engaging in IP crime.” It further noted that it could lead to some naive file sharers being unnecessarily punished. It concluded: ““This proposal has clearly struck a chord with many stakeholders, which is reflected in the high number of responses. As a result, the Government is now carefully considering the best way forward. However, the Government remains committed to tackling those engaged in online criminality.”
Our last piracy story comes up with the magic number: 560,000,000. That’s more than half a billion. And that’s the number of takedown notices processed by Google in 2015, according to figures put together by the TorrentFreak website. It represents a 60 per cent rise on the previous year. For more key numbers from 2015, see our website

Off to a busy start this year is Manga, which already has a high profile theatrical release under its belt for 2016. It gave a January 6 bow to Yakuza Apocalypse, due out on DVD and Blu-ray on May 2, with the release garnering plenty of coverage and awareness. Commenting on the release, Andrew Hewson said: “Directed by prolific and controversial director Takashi Miike (13 Assassins, Audition, Ichi The Killer), Yakuza Apocalypse was produced by the team behind The Raid 1 and 2 and also features its breakout star Yayan Ruhian, who recently appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Raid connection and the passionate fanbase Miike has in the UK will be key in our overall marketing campaign. After the successful theatrical on January 6, it currently has a lot of hype surrounding it which we intend to build upon with heavily targeted above the line support and a very creative PR plan for social in lead up to its release. Last year, Yakuza played at a number of highly acclaimed film festivals around the world including two sold-out showings at the London Film Festival – the film had a fantastic reception at both.”
Also off to a busy start this year is BBC Store, which has been in the headlines again over the past week or so, thanks in no small part to a raft of big announcements. This week it has marked the 40th anniversary of the first transmission of Mike Leigh’s wonderful Nuts In May by making the British director’s output from the BBC available exclusively through BBC Store. The range on offer includes his first full-length TV drama, Hard Labour, as well as The Permissive Society, the aforementioned Nuts In May, arguably his most famous outing Abigail’s Party, Kiss Of Death, Who’s Who, Home Sweet Home, Grown-Ups and Four Days In July. Leigh’s been supporting the titles with a PR push, including a hefty Guardian interview. Also receiving much coverage was the announcement of an episode of Dad’s Army, unseen for years after the tapes went missing believed destroyed. The audio has been discovered, with BBC Worldwide animating the soundtrack and making the resulting episode available through BBC Store to tie in with the release of Universal’s big budget new feature film. Commenting on the exclusive, BBC Store director Jonathan Green said: “As the UK renews its love affair with Dad’s Army we’re delighted to be bringing fans an exclusive chance to buy this brilliant lost episode which has been missing from the Dad’s Army portfolio for nearly half a century.”
One of the certainties of January is the raft of awards handed out to Arrow and its assorted imprints, most notably its Arrow Video label, which year after year earns various Label Of The Year gongs and plaudits by assorted esteemed home entertainment publications. And, as with previous years, the company has scored well again this year, winning itself across the board respect from those in the know. Arrow Films’ Hard To Be A God fought off competition from much higher profile titles to win Best Film Of The Year from critic Robbie Collin, while it earned Best Of awards for 2015 from Home Cinema Choice magazine in Best Remaster, Best Boxset, Best Packaging and Best World Cinema categories for titles such as The Long Good Friday, Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box and The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne. It boasted a whopping five titles in DVDBeaver’s Best Blu-rays chart, as well as coming second in its Best Label poll and earning scores of Best Artwork plaudits. It came top in no less than three polls on Bloody Disgusting, also winning Dread Central’s Best Release of the Year award. There were further awards from The Arts Shelf, Rue Morgue, DVD Savant, DVDTalk, Video Watchdog,, 10k Bullets, EurocultAC and There was another Distributor Of The Year award from DVD Compare too, as well as featuring in the Sight & Sound poll (more of that below). Commenting on its success, the company’s Alex Agran said: “I am extremely proud and humbled that so many people have nominated Arrow and our releases for the end of year awards and round ups. There’s a lot of passion and hard work that goes into curating and delivering each release , I am blessed to have such a talented team at Arrow whose appetite for bigger and more ambitious projects seemingly knows no limits.”
Tracey Ullman returned to British TV screens this week in a new series for BBC, touching down in a blaze of PR and publicity to promote Tracey Ullman’s Show. It landed on BBC One complete with her take on characters such as a Dame Judi Dench with a penchant for shoplifting and an egomaniacal Angela Merkel. It earned itself some strong reviews – The Times said "It's as if a prodigal daughter - last seen mucking about with French, Saunders and pop producers in the mid-1980s - has returned to the UK from 30 gap years in America and wrapped herself instantly round British hearts and funnybones", with the Telegraph adding: "She might be 56 and rich enough to never need work again, but Ullman's lost none of her youthful bite. Welcome home” – and has been commissioned for a second series already, on the back of strong viewing figures (almost 3 million) despite its relatively late night slot. RLJ Entertainment’s Acorn imprint is releasing a DVD of the series on February 22. Commenting on the release, the company’s Joint Head of Marketing, Gareth Brown, said: “We’re thrilled to be among those welcoming Tracey back to the UK by releasing this new series on DVD.  Even more because Tracey has allowed us to include an exclusive Blooper Reel not seen by the public which will give us great insight as to what it’s like to be on set with Tracey in character.  We think fans old and new are going to love this.”

Studiocanal’s busy start to the year continues apace, as the presses on with a raft of releases. The latest that we viewed this week is the rather excellent Nina Forever. Rated as one of the highlights of last year’s Film 4 FrightFest, as well as scoring big the BIFAs, it is a homegrown comedy horror that features some of the brightest young talents working in the UK, and, we’re pleased to say, comes in a fine physical package that includes its young directors, brothers Ben and Chris Blaine’s talking through deleted scenes and other elements. It comes with our seal of approval and really is a gem of a film. Studiocanal’s Kristin Ryan said: “Undoubtedly one of the stand out films on last year's festival circuit, the award winning Nina Forever will be released on DVD and Blu-ray February 22. The release will be supported with an above the line campaign across press, online and social alongside a series of Q&A events with the filmmakers to further publicise and engage with the audience. The film has a number of high profile champions with publicity coverage a key component of the release and will include high profile features on the filmmakers and cast, full review coverage and a dedicated social campaign through our strong Horror Vault channel. Nina Forever is a brilliant, sexy, scary and wildly original film from the very talented Blaine Brothers and appeals to both horror and film festival fans.”
Over to the world of svod now and Netflix has this week upset scores of not-quite-illegal but slightly questionable subscribers in the UK and other territories who use VPNs and proxy servers to access the service in other territories with more titles available. It’s a popular scam among UK users of the svod service, as they get to access different titles, some ahead of their UK release. But it can damage UK distributors looking to sell titles they have rights to to Netflix. In a statement, Netflix’s David Fullagar said: “Some members use proxies or ‘unblockers’ to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies. We are making progress in licensing content across the world and, as of last week, now offer the Netflix service in 190 countries, but we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere. Over time, we anticipate being able to do so. For now, given the historic practice of licensing content by geographic territories, the TV shows and movies we offer differ, to varying degrees, by territory. In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location.” Whether Netflix does come good on its promise is another matter – it had threatened similar action last week. There were, of course, predictable howls of outrage from UK users…
Far from preventing people from watching its programmes, Amazon was opening up the doors of its Prime service to allow potential customers to watch two seasons of its Golden Globe winning Mozart In The Jungle for free. The offer was due to last from Friday January 15 to Sunday January 17. Commenting on the deal, Amazon Studios vp Roy Price said: “What an incredible honour to be recognised by the press for two years in a row. We are incredibly proud of Gael, Jason, Roman, Paul and everyone involved in the making of Mozart in the Jungle – it’s gratifying and exciting to see the success of this series.” It further announced a couple of other series due to arrive, namely New Yorker Presents, set to arrive on February 16 and Bosch Season 2, due on March 11. 
But arguably the biggest news of the week comes from Mubi, which has effectively won the race to become the first svod service to arrive in China. It has inked a pact with Huanxi Media Group, an Asian media company. It will invest $50 million in Mubi, 80 per cent of which will go towards setting up the Chinese take of the svod service, with Huanxi owning 70 per cent of that. The further $10 million will be invested in Mubi’s service in other territories, where it will take an eight per cent stake. It means Mubi will become the first svod service in China. Mubi founder Efe Cakarel said: “We are thrilled to launch MUBI in China this year. The foundation of MUBI has always been to ensure film fans have access to the best films around the globe, from London to Beijing, wherever and whenever they want. Through our partnership with Huanxi, we will be able to do just that; introduce a curated film offering in the country with the largest population in the world - and soon the largest film market in the world.” Huanxi’s Dong Ping added: “As China’s movie market grows rapidly, the online video and movie sector is also expanding quickly. As a result, there is a growing demand by Chinese audiences for quality content online. Our Joint Venture with MUBI would allow us to combine our deep expertise in creating, acquiring original, event-driven content in China with MUBI’s powerful, user-friendly platform.”
And last call for  our year-end Q&A for Raygun readers. We’ll be posting them on our website in a week or so’s time, so please, answer these simple questions and fire them over to us at the usual email address for us to build a picture of what the industry really thought about 2015 and its hopes and fears for the future…
Favourite three releases of the year:
Highlights of 2015:
Lowpoint of 2015:
Event of the year:
Biggest challenge in 2016:
What I’m looking forward to in 2016 

“In reality, Hive’s free advertising justification for The Hateful Eight leak represents a fundamental lack of understanding about the film business and the creative industries in general. If marketing a new film, album or book was as easy as leaking it online, movie studios, record labels and book publishers would do it themselves. However, when releasing new creative works, the success of these works depends on creating new markets and consumer awareness, which requires far more than just dumping content online. We live in a world where consumers have never had more entertainment choices. While this competition is great for the creative community and for consumers, it also means that connecting with consumers is more difficult and expensive than it has been in the past, and requires a level of creativity and ingenuity far beyond just simply leaking the creative work online. The notion that a faceless group of Internet outlaws drives audience buzz – more than a creative team’s marketing campaign, advertising, and promotions – is patently absurd. It’s time for the claims that piracy is free advertising and good for creators to fade to black.” 
Keith Kupferschmid of the Copyright Alliance, on last week’s claim by the release group behind the Hateful 8 leak that it had helped Quentin Tarantino’s film…

After all last week’s kerfuffle, The Hateful Eight still earned almost £2.8 million in its opening weekend, making it the highest, in fact the only, new entry in the UK box office top 10, bested only by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Here’s those Oscar nominations in full, in case you’ve missed them for some unknown reason…  
Film title of the week goes to Guillermo del Toro, who has revealed he is adapting spooky tales Scary Stories  To Tell In The Dark, a bestselling trilogy, into a feature length outing. He is a big fan of the books… Reboot of the week goes to The Chronicles Of Narnia series, with CS Lewis adaptations being thin on the ground in recent years, but they will return in the shape of The Silver Chair. The last outing, The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, was six years ago… Jumanji is also set to get a new lease of life, with Jake Kasdan at the helm…
And in a week when the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations has hit the headlines again, interesting to note that a director has been announced for Marvel’s Black Panther flick, with Creed director Ryan Coogler (a film that didn’t score as well as some thought it would in the nominations) set to helm the film…
The other big news of the week concerns the forthcoming Avengers film Infinity War, set to appear in two parts, the first landing in May 2018, the second a year later. For directors Joe and Anthony Russo have revealed they have lined up potentially 67 different characters for the films… Well, the films won’t be getting any shorter than those lengthy Marvel outings then…
Talking of length, the new force behind Star Wars JJ Abrams has this week revealed that the Blu-ray and DVD SKUs of his newly revived franchise, The Force Awakens, due some time in the second quarter (April according to most) will not come in lengthy director’s cuts. There is good news, however. As the director said: ““There will be deleted scenes, but not an extended version.”
This, with loads of swearing, is part of Curzon’s campaign to save its cinema from being swallowed up by Crossrail…
Part Network, part Dog Day Afternoon …
It;s taken a while to get here, but this is a real goodie…
“No woman could truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins…”
This week’s most talked about trailer…
And the animated fare for this week…
A second, and outstanding, trailer for the next Coen brothers…
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