NEWSLETTER :: July 8 2010

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It Was A Good Week For... The summer blockbuster season gets back to business... Oh, and anyone involved with Inception, massive home ent potential here, we reckon
It Was A Bad Week For... Everyone as the Digital Economy Act may be stalled... 
Perhaps the most widely reported news of the week is the publication of the annual BBC Worldwide review. It boasts some impressive figureS, with sales and profits both up, the former rose by seven per cent and broke the £1 billion for the second year running, while operating profits increased by more than a third to £145.2 million. In among those figures was the fact that 2 entertain contributed more than a quarter of those, £38.2 million, following the acquisition of Woolworths' remaining 40 per cent stake of the business. Its top titles were David Attenborough's Life, Gavin And Stacey and old favourites Only Fools And Horses and Jeremy Clarkson. The aforementioned Life, along with Clarkson's Top Gear were, along with Planet Earth, Being Erica and Doctor Who, the top five programme brands globally. BBC Worldwide delivered dividenD payments of £73.6 million to the public service arm of the BBC – highlighting the value of 2 entertain's contribution into creating new programming. Worldwide chief executive John Smith said: "BBC Worldwide continues to give consumers around the world more and more content from the BBC and other British production companies. This allows us to re-invest in more great content and return more cash to our parent organisation, the BBC."

Universal became the latest major studio to unveil its wares for the latter part of 2010 to The Raygun this week, and, as ever, the line-up runs the whole gamut from children's through to stand-up comedy, fitness and feature films, taking in everything from self-purchase titles through to the essential gifting sector. As ever, the presentation came armed with research and analysis to back up the company's beliefs (the British public will spend three times what they spend on turkey on DVD this Q4, people buying DVDs as gifts are prepared to pay 10 per cent more on DVDs than they would elsewhere in the year, with the obvious impulse purchase becoming more prevalent and, our favourite, 1.7 million units sold on Christmas Eve alone). The company traditionally excels in the live, stand-up field and this year will be no exception, its Q4 2010 slate bolstered by the return of two of its comedy superstars, Billy Connolly and Ricky Gervais. As ever the special interest arm's side of the presentation featured scores of specially filmed messages from the talent and was even narrated by Ross Noble (the section featuring his own November release, Things Live, was a highlight). And it featured, deep breath here, titles from Noble, Russell Brand, Sean Locke, Victoria Wood, new titles from old faves Chubby and Jethro, Kevin Bridges, Simon Amstel, Reginald D Hunter, Tim Minchin, Chris Addison, Bill Bailey, Dara O'Briain, and the aforementioned Connolly and Gervais. And if that wasn't enough, there's repromotions, compilations, Best Ofs and box sets including the likes of Jason Manford and Michael McIntyre.

On the feature film side, October sees the release of, the Noel Clarke-helmed thriller made very much with the UK home entertainment market in mind (sales from his Kidulthood and sequel Adulthood have topped the 1 million mark), with a marketing campaign that will range from TV spots to the all-important social media, including the chance to win a part in a forthcoming Clarke film; as well as Ben Stiller in Greenberg; the comedy MacGruber and current box office sensation, Get Him To The Greek, which has performed strongly in spite of the World Cup and, in a summer relatively devoid of theatrical laughs, will keep going for some time. Further down the line comes Step Up 3D, adding to a franchise that has already sold 2 million units in the UK;  Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (the eagerly-awaited comic book film from Edgar Wright likely to land after Christmas), and a DTV sequel, Death Race 2. Also on the feature film side, indi VISION (see previous newsletters), Universal's boutique imprint for independent film, continues its charge forward, with acquisitions such as vampire film Suck and a director's cut of The Lawnmower Man on the way. On the television front, as Universal Playback's Eleanor Fraser noted, "Q4 used to be about House and Heroes for us, but now it's a lot bigger". Titles include the fourth and final season of Heroes, the first full season of Battlestar Galactica spin-off Caprica; crime series Whitechapel; Lip Service; costume drama Downton Abbey and, in the post-Christmas slot, Any Human Heart.

In terms of catalogue and campaign, there are a couple of key October campaigns, one loosely tying in with Back To The Future (see below), entitled Back To The 80s and a major Halloween promotion. Beyond that there are the perennial favourites, It's A Wonderful Life, given a new lease of life last year and now set to get another TV-supported reissue; Holiday Inn now given the same kind of treatment, and Love Actually, which Universal wants to turn into a similarly seasonal bestseller. Fitness was represented by Step Up Dance Out, and celebrity-themed titles from Debbie Rush and Nadia Sawalha. And more special interest, including a best of Michael Ball and a Les Miserables anniversary show, completed the line-up.

 We've just mentioned Back To The Future and it's been an interesting week for the franchise. Just as Universal announced its impending release for the first time on Blu-ray as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, one of those Internet rumours about the film spread like wildfire, claiming that this week marked the original date that Doc (aka Christopher Lloyd) was going to travel to before the terrorists turned up and things went awry. Turns out the whole thing, despite photoshopped pictures, was somewhere between a hoax, an over-enthusiastic error and a "misremembering" that arrived via Total Film (which has just had a rather nice redesign, more on that next week). Although all the furore (almost all on Twitter, see below in our Tweet Of The Week section), only gave more publicity to the title, which rocketed to the top of assorted pre-order charts at the likes of Amazon ahead of its October 25 release (and preceding 150 to 200 print theatrical outing). It will be available in three different SKUs, one featuring a die-cast De Lorean car.
On The Raygun website this week: the weekend's DVD and Blu-ray coverage; Manga's move into live action; more trailers, including the excellent Possession; a retro store signing and the Iron Man 2 Audi that we desperately want... See more at

Perhaps the grimmest news of the week came as Internet service providers BT and TalkTalk came together to call for a judicial review of the Digital Economy Act. The pair, who had previously voiced concerns, have filed papers calling for the high court to clarify as to whether the contentious legislation, which will see persistent illegal filesharers being disconnected, is lawful under existing EU legislation. Furthermore, both companies claim the Act was rushed through Parliament ahead of the election, with only two hours given over for debate. A government spokesperson said they'd be no going back on the act, issuing a strong statement: "The Digital Economy Act sets out to protect our creative economy from the continued threat of online copyright infringement, which industry estimates costs the creative industries, including creators, £400m per year. We believe measures are consistent with EU legislation and that there are enough safeguards in place to protect the rights of consumers and ISPs and will continue to work on implementing them."  However, Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats had, pre-coalition, stated that they had done their best to prevent it becoming law and that it needed to be debated properly. This week's news could throw a spanner in the works and may even set the introduction of the legislation back two years...

Back to product, and stand-up comedy in particularly, television channel Comedy Central UK is to launch it own DVD label this autumn. Its first two releases, distributed by Lace, will be from the excellent Stewart Lee (we still love his last 2 entertain outing) and Aussie stand-up Jim Jefferies. The former's If You Prefer A Milder Comedian Please Ask For One is due on October 11, the latter's Alcoholocaust is out four weeks later on November 8. The label has been launched by Sarah Farrell, director of content at Comedy Central, with comedy expert Colin Dench (who has worked with Ross Noble, as mentioned previously) acting as producer and A&R. It is promising "extensive marketing and PR support" and is looking to sign a further three acts next year. Comedy Central UK's vp for business development Tony Crowe said: "The launch of our own DVD label enables us to reach out to our current viewers and customers whilst at the same time taking the Comedy Central UK offering to a new and diverse audience. Having signed up fantastic comedy talent in Stewart Lee and Jim Jefferies in our launch year we have major plans in place to build upon this exciting start in 2011."

More on the autumn release front, although in a slightly different vein. Soda Pictures has acquired the rights to SoulBoy, which has all the makings of a superior Britfilm (and one we at The Raygun are desperately excited about already). Set in 1974, it focuses on the Northern Soul scene, stars a host of rising homegrown talent (from Martin Compston from The Disappearance Of Alice Creed through to Alfie Allen and stars of StreetDance and Cemetery Junction), features an ace soundtrack (due from Universal, including the wonderful Northern stomper Gloria Jones, among others) and is due out this autumn as part of a multi-platform release, including theatrical and, of course, DVD. The independent, which acquired the film via its new Soda Film Fund distribution pot, is building a buzz by screening the film at assorted festivals and events throughout the summer, with a planned all-night event in Stoke. Soda's Eve Gabereau said: "We are very excited about the possibilities of reaching people for this film via other channels than just cinema screens. Although the traditional theatrical space will be a vital component of the film's success, we think that given the avant-garde nature of Northern Soul it makes sense to also position it as alternative content and get it out along the lines of gigs and club nights, and through digital  
platforms such as iTunes and FilmFlex." Check the trailer at



More too on 4DVD's acquisition of the TV series based on Shane Meadows' excellent This Is England, as mentioned in last week's newsletter (and if you didn't see the trailer, go here immediately This Is England 1986 is due on October 4 on DVD and will comprise of the four hour-long TV episodes that charts the ongoing adventures of the gang of young skinheads who featured in the original BAFTA-winning feature. Set three years on, it features familiar faces and is set in a time when England were getting dumped out of the World Cup, millions were unemployed and Chris De Burgh was number one (much the same as today, albeit without the Chris De Burgh bit, which makes it more bearable). It's a landmark launch for Channel 4, and will air throughout September on the network. The mercurial Meadows is working on the DVD, and there will be, among other things, a commentary.

Another label busy signing deals has been Network Releasing, which has acquired a brace of world cinema titles, one from Mexico, the other Canada. The first is Abel, the directorial debut of Y Tu Mama Tambien star Diego Luna. The tale of a nine-year-old boy who takes on the role of head of the household after his father walks out represent Mexico's highest grossing opening theatrical frame. The other is Hearbeats, a film about a group of teenagers from Xavier Dolan, helmer of the acclaimed I Killed My Mother. Network's Tim Beddows said: "We are delighted to have picked up some world cinema gems and look forward to adding these to our diverse and ever expanding release slate."

It really has been a busy week for acquisitions news, with news that E1 has inked a deal with AMC (home of, among others, Mad Men), that will see a new series Hell On Wheels, being produced by the company in partnership with Endemol. Hell On Wheels looks at the construction of the first transcontinental railroad in the US after the Civil War. A pilot is being developed with a view to a further series and it continues E1's commitment to creating – and distributing – television programming alongside its existing film business. E1 will have global home entertainment rights, spanning DVD and Blu-ray, vod and digital distribution. E1 Television chief John Morayniss said: "This deal further illustrates how E1 has become the go-to studio for U.S. and international broadcasters seeking an independent production partner."

Eclectic world cinema label Mr Bongo Films, which grew out of a record shop and label in London's West End, has rebranded its catalogue to mark its 25th release. The new look sees the label's distinctive hand-print logo on the front, with an image at the top and logo at the bottom. Once the catalogue is replaced in-store with the new look sleeves, which will occur as stocks run down and the label replenishes, Mr Bongo will then be able to promote its entire range and look at price-related activity, aided by the generic look. Mr Bongo's David Buttle said: "The rebranding allows us to communicate a new message to our customers and new customers, that having started 5 years ago we have evolved into a leading arthouse film company. In that time we have also been able to acquire better source material for some of these films so we can create a new film master. With the new template for our DVD covers we hope to increase awareness and consumer memory to show that Mr Bongo Films is a brand that can be trusted for high quality and sensible pricing. For the retailer the aim is that they can display the new branded film designs together in-store as part of any upcoming campaign."
Forthcoming titles from the label include the excellent boxing documentary  Sons Of Cuba on September 20 and, beyond that, both Susana and The Brute in October and a pair of Bunuel titles, The Devil And The Flesh and El Bruto.

It’s been a busy week for Revelation, as the company’s persistence paid off with the release on Monday of Chimera, the classic TV series that it had wrought from the ITV archives after a campaign by the company (and fans too) to get it released on DVD for the first time ever. The release was marked by a special screening at the BFI, as part of its Future Human season of film and television. Revelation flew in creator Stephen Gallagher for a Q&A and signing at the BFI bookshop. Revelation's Alice Dyson said: "After several years of digging we’ve finally managed to pull Chimera out from the ITV archives, having never previously been released on DVD before. With other thrillers, like Edge Of Darkness performing so well with retailers, there clearly is still a place in the market for quality TV dramas from this era. We also worked hard with the writer Stephen Gallagher to put together a great DVD extras package for fans, which includes printable scripts, behind the scenes with Stephen Gallagher, an interview with Stephen Gallagher, and the original press kit."

We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when organized criminals traffic in stolen movies for their profit." US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's John Morton, speaking after the authorities and studios in the US launched Operation In Our Sites, aimed at closing down websites offering up pirate films. The war on the illegal sites kicked off shutting down,,,,,,, and One, Movieslinks, boasted 3.3 million viewers a month, with 37,000 watching Sex And The City 2 on one day.

Next week sees the release of the excellent Life During Wartime, complete in a sumptuous sleeve (one of our favourites of the year thus far), from Artificial Eye via Fusion Media Sales. Directed by Todd Solondz, its a part sequel to his earlier Happiness, albeit with a completely different cast. Artificial Eye can boast something of a coup too, in that it is stealing a march on the rest of the world too. The company's Paul Diment said: "We are delighted to be releasing Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime on DVD. He's still as relevant and controversial  as ever and the film fits perfectly within the Artificial Eye stable. We also fortunate to be the first territory in the world to be releasing this film on DVD, and have received great support from Todd and cast members to help launch the title with a national PR and press campaign throughout the week of release."

Shrek Forever After sat proudly atop theUK box office chart, taking in almost £9 million in its opening weekend in another relatively quiet week at the UK box office. I Hate Luv Storys and Heartbreakers were the week's other new entries. Over in the US, it was all about the latest in the Twilight saga, Eclipse, which took a whopping $176 million in its opening weekend.
News on the impending Mad Max reboot/new sequel/reimagining/relaunch (call it what you will, no one seems to know). The film, Mad Max: Fury Road, which stars Tom Hardy as the eponymous hero (Mel Gibson is busy insulting different ethnic groups), may actually be two films, the second entitled Furiosa. Uncomfirmed so far, but it would be doubly good news, especially as we love Tom Hardy. And this weird quote, talking about his preparation for playing Max, made us feel kind of scared and excited (expletives deleted): "Imagine a hungry wolf. Or like when you put a cat in the bath. You grab a cat by the throat and stuff it under the water. You know what it looks like? That’s what I’m going to look like. But like a puma. Very hungry and very dangerous."

July 24, 2010. A date that will see every budding home movie director and idiot with an iPhone wandering around filming everything they see. Why? It's the day that's been set aside for an intriguing project created by director Kevin MacDonald (Last King Of Scotland) and producer Ridley Scott, entitled Life In A Day. An experiment in social film-making, they're inviting amateurs everywhere to film some stuff and stick it on youtube. All the good bits will be editing down into a film to premiere at next year's Sundance. We're reserving comment, but we sympathise with Macdonald and Scott, because if you've spent as much time on youtube as we have, you'll know they're going to have a ton of rubbish to wade through. More details here     

And, finally, weirdest story of the week: Rob Lowe might be buying Miramax. As you may be aware, the once independent studio, now part of Disney, is on the block and suitors, including founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein, now in charge of The Weinstein Company, are circling. We at The Raygun haven't written much about it, mainly because it's all speculation and conjecture (what, unlike normally?), but the fact that Lowe, along with a few business partners, is rumoured to be interested was enough to make us do a Laurel And Hardy-sized double take. Lowe is said to be forming a DreamWorks-style multimedia company with an estate agent (Tom Barrack), a restaurant owner (Guiseppe Cipriani), Formula 1 magnate Flavio Briatore, among others, to launch the company and now some of the gang are said to looking at acquiring Miramax from Disney, as one of their opening gambits. All of which means Lowe may end up more like his character in Wayne's World than his former playboy self...   


Two things have kept us engrossed this week – one a lengthy retweet and constantly updated, moving feast, the other a mere mention... First up was the whole Back To The Future furore (see above). On a slightly lower key note, there was also the matter of a mere mention dropped by director Edgar Wright (whose Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is arguably the year's most anticipated film). In his 140 character tweet he announced he was off to do a commentary. The inference being this was for his trailer for Grindhouse. And putting two and two together, that must mean, surely, that s special edition DVD and Blu-ray is on its way? Doesn't it?

You can say what you like, but you can't tell us that a)this isn't a smartly cut trailer and b) you don't want to see this...

Disney appears to have its tongue tucked firmly in its cheek here:

This trailer was doing really well until Lady Gaga turned up:

Some of the comments are given to hyperbole, but this does look good:

And come on, surely we don't need to put this up, but just in case you haven't seen it:
Bananas (Dogwoof)
Baseline (Optimum)
Bob The Builder The Can Do Crew (HIT)
Bubba Ho Tep (Anchor Bay)
A Celebration Of Classic MGM Musicals (2entertain)
Clayhanger – The Complete Series (Network)
Confessions From The David Galaxy Affair (Odeon Entertainment)
The Dinner Party (Kaleidoscope)
Doctor Who Dominators (2entertain)
Eric Rohmer Six Moral Tales
Fear Island (High Fliers)
The Firm 500 Calorie Workout  (Clear Vision)
Gantz Complete Collection (MVM)
Ghost Month (OMG)
Green Zone (Universal)
Grown Ups Series 3 (2entertain)
The Headless Woman (High Fliers)
Hotel (Artificial Eye)
In Sickness And In Health Series 5 (2entertain)
Landfall (Optimum)
Leap Year (Optimum)
Life During Wartime (Artificial Eye)
Lourdes (Artificial Eye)
Lovely Rita (Artificial Eye)
Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly (Odeon)
My Father Pablo Escobar (Brightspark)
Razen Maiden Traumend 1 (MVM)
Silent Invasion (Optimum)
Storm (Soda)
The Storm Warriors (Cine Asia)
Treasure Hunt (E1)
Trucker (High Fliers)
UFC 111 (Clear Vision
The Unpolished (Second Run DVD)
Valentine’s Day (Warner)
Waking The Dead S8 (2entertain)
Youth In Revolt (Momentum)
Frownland (ICA)
Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema (Anchor Bay)
Leaving (Metrodome)
London River (Trinity)
Predators (Fox)
Milenge Milenge (Eros)
The Seventh Dimension (Kaleidoscope)
Twilight: Eclipse (E1)
Went The Day Well (bfi)
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