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It Was A Good Week For... Universal, top dog for 2015…
It Was A Bad Week For… Physical sales were down over the past year……
And so, as the hangovers and December 31 parties fade from view, the industry surveys if not the wreckage, then the untidy mess that is 2015 left behind us, and one thing has become clear – the video business as we know it enjoyed a seismic shift last year, one that appeared to accelerate in December. It was, it appears, a digital year, with consumers migrating from physical formats and on to digital ownership and rentals. And while the narrative that physical sales are declining is certainly an underlying theme, let’s not forget that DVD and Blu-ray sales are still worth more than £1 billion. Top line figures from the BVA and across the rest of the industry – smartly marshalled by a co-ordinated announcement from ERA, as well as the BPI and UKIE and assorted charts bodies such as the Official Charts Company, showed that the entertainment business, taking in video, games and music, was worth more than £6 billion across the three strands in both the physical and digital worlds. That alone is a figure worth celebrating, especially when you consider it represents a rise of some £1 billion in three years form the post-EUK, Woolworths and Virgin 2012 low point of just over £5billion. And let’s not get into the which of the three was biggest (we’ll leave that to the games industry). Our business, the video industry, or home entertainment sector, was worth £2.24 billion, which represents a growth of 1.5 per cent. There was a growth of more than 30 per cent in digital services in 2015. Both digital and physical sides of the business boasted revenues of more than £1 billion, while almost 120 million physical discs were sold. We’ve got a full breakdown of the figures and a snazzy illustration from the BVA on our website as part of our first look back at 2015, but here’s some reaction to the figures, followed by assorted comment from some of the leading distributors. 
So, what was the opinion of the powers that be in our business? Let’s start with the BVA. Commenting on the year-end figures, the organisation’s Liz Bales said: “These figures show that the audio visual industry has evolved its business to remain ahead of the unprecedented changes in the way people want to access content.  The industry is now truly multichannel providing outstanding experiences for consumers be that in cinema, on DVD and Blu-ray, or through a multiplicity of digital services. Despite the much suggested decline of discs, these latest figures also show that the category continues to be popular with consumers who are buying more than 320,000 discs every day and accounting for £1 in every £2 of spend on entertainment in the home. These figures, while lower than previous years as people now access content in many different ways, suggest there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the success of both DVD and Blu-ray for years to come.” BVA chairman and Fox md Robert Price said: “The audio-visual industry has a brilliant record of constant evolution to meet the needs of its customers and that is never more true than it is today.  Despite unprecedented change, and a troubled economic climate, the industry has continued to grow making it a major contributor to UK Plc and an incubator and promoter of the brilliant talent we have on our shores.”
Over at ERA, the organisation’s Kim Bayley said: “Ten years ago the entertainment business was on the edge of a precipice. Piracy was rampant and there were few legal alternatives. Thanks to huge investments by the likes of Apple and Steam and Netflix and Spotify, there has been a significant turnaround. From indie record stores to video on demand, from High Street chains to streaming services, internet retail and supermarkets, there has never been such a wide variety of ways for people to get the music, video and games they want.” And from some of the experts who helped put the figures together, Futuresource Consulting’s David Sidebottom said: “The UK has one of the most dynamic digital video sectors globally and its growth momentum is set to continue. EST film sales growth is on track to reach 50 per cent in 2015, with another strong slate further driving the market to new levels in 2016. Total spend on digital video services (including subscription video on demand services) will break £1billion in 2016.” Richard Cooper, from IHS said: “The digital market continues to grow strongly and new service launches such as DisneyLife and BBC Store will help to ensure that this sector sees continued growth. 2016 will see the release of a number of strong titles, including Batman V Superman, The Jungle Book, and follow up to Finding Nemo: Finding Dory. Combining these with 2015 release; Star Wars, should ensure that 2016 sees strong consumer spending on home entertainment transactions.”

The year-end figures and the co-ordinated way the industry announced them made for some strong PR too, with ERA’s Kim Bayley appearing on BBC Five Live, Liz Bales writing for Retail Week and, beyond that, coverage in the Guardian, The Independent, Digital Spy and more. It reached almost 16 million people and boasted an equivalent media spend of £25,000… You can see the coverage here here and here.
Perhaps one of the key figures for 2015 going forward for our business is the theatrical receipts for 2016. The total was £1.31 billion, up more than 15 per cent year on year and the biggest box office haul ever in the UK and Ireland, more than 11 per cent on the previous all-time high from 2012. Commenting on the figures, UK Cinema Association’s Phil Clapp said: “The UK cinema industry entered the year on the back of what had been a challenging 2014, but with high hopes that we would now see a substantial re-engagement of audiences with the big screen experience. In fact 2015 exceeded all expectations, with clear signs that we have further re-ignited the British public’s love for cinema.”
If anyone company could be said to own 2016, then, despite a late rally from Disney with Inside Out topping the Christmas week chart and Star Wars The Force Awakens dominating at cinemas, you’d have to say that Universal was far and away the winner. Its figures alone highlight its dominance, with a 21.3 per cent share of the market, the highest since 2008 (a record held, again, by Universal. It dominated film, with three of the top five; had the number one fitness title and helped the market grow by 90 per cent year on year; the three top selling live comedy titles (Michael McIntyre beat rival challenges from Kevin Bridges and Mrs Brown’s Boys), outstanding documentary performances (from Ronaldo and I Believe In Miracles) and Downton Abbey. Oh, and there was the not inconsiderable matter of the deal inked with Paramount, which added Terminator Genisys and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Commenting on its outstanding Q4 and the year as a whole, Universal UK md Ian Foster said: “2015 was a truly monumental year for Universal. The most high profile success came from our record breaking film slate; however we also enjoyed success across a wide variety of special interest and TV titles and I believe it is this diversity of slate that greatly contributed to our incredible achievements. On the film side, we are thrilled to have had three of the top five titles with Jurassic World, Fifty Shades Of Grey and Minions, more than any studio since 2001 when Universal last had three titles in the top five. The new release share achieved was extraordinary, with 21.3 per cent, the highest of any studio since 2008 where Universal reached 23.2 per cent (the year of Mamma Mia). UK consumers flooded into stores the week that Fifty Shades Of Grey released, making it the biggest week one of the year and showcasing their insatiable appetite for this new franchise. Key to our film sales success has been the investment in these exceptional franchise titles from both an in store set up and ATL campaign perspective. We wanted to ensure that we delivered campaigns of a theatrical scale for home entertainment releases to excite consumers about our titles but also the category. Within special interest, we started the year off with a break out fitness sensation with Charlotte Crosby’s 3 Minute Belly Blitz.  Charlotte was the number one fitness title of 2015 with 379,000 units sold and is the number one new release fitness title of the last 14 years. Charlotte rebooted the new release Fitness market into 91 per cent growth, the first time this market has been in growth since 2008. Also within the special interest segment, we were proud to remain at the top of the comedy charts with Michael McIntyre, Kevin Bridges and Mrs Brown Live selling 798,000 units in just seven weeks. Equally impressive were the results on our two Sports documentaries, Ronaldo and I Believe In Miracles ranking number one and two in the OCC film documentaries chart of 2015 with 93,000 and 82,000 respectively since their release in November. 2015 also saw the final broadcast of Downton Abbey, a series we have loved being a part of over the years and we were pleased to see fans still so engaged right to the end, with the Christmas Special (released on Boxing Day) seeing year-on-year growth of 60 per cent by the end of the first full week. If all of that wasn’t enough, 2015 also saw us take on distribution of Paramount from July which has been an incredibly exciting addition to our slate. Therefore when looking at the full picture, Universal’s total share for 2015 was 19.2 per cent, and in Q4, where we released the action franchise hits Terminator: Genisys and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, our share increased to 24.5 per cent and this is the biggest Q4 share since 1999. It is unlikely we will see a year like this for some time to come and we are absolutely thrilled with the results achieved and grateful for the support of all of our retail partners.”
Second biggest distributor of the year – and one that has vied with Universal for the crown in recent years – was Warner, which boasted more than 15 per cent in terms of overall market share and, thanks to high definition friendly titles such as The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies and Mad Max: Fury Road, enjoyed the highest Blu-ray market share too. Commenting on its success, the major’s John Stanley said: “'All at WB were delighted with our over all performance in 2015, where we managed to grow our value shares in Catalogue and New Release whilst also enjoying market leading positions in Blu-ray, TV and family entertainment sectors... So we're happy to report another strong year for our company in amongst the mountain of fantastic product that was released across the industry. As a total market we're obviously still going through a lot of change and uncertainty as consumers come to terms with and make their choices across the many different platforms now available to them. From a physical standpoint, the week in week out 100,000-plus unit sellers continue to show the UK publics satisfaction with DVD and Blu-ray as a convenient and 'easy to understand' way of owning filmed entertainment. That said, transactional Digital growth is moving at a headline grabbing pace and has developed into a really substantial part of the UK home entertainment market.”

Plaudits must go to Studiocanal too – the company’s Paddington was the year’s biggest seller, no mean feat, while it had another year-end Top 10 bestsellers in the shape of The Imitation Game. The family film is a title we’ve oft covered here, charting its trajectory from early pre-theatrical screening, marmalade sandwiches and all, through to its status as the year’s biggest. It sets the seal on a sterling year for the company across all sectors. As the company’s Kristin Ryan said: “2015 has been an outstanding year for Studiocanal. Paddington continues to be a phenomena with strong sales right through the gifting period and we're incredibly proud that it's been the highest selling title of the year. The success of The Imitation Game is equally satisfying and shows the continuing appeal of one of Britain's most bankable leading men. We start 2016 with a bang with the release of the UK smash hit Legend later this month.”
Another company enjoying a strong Q4 was BBC Worldwide, which presented not just a diverse selection of titles, but, in the shape of Joe And Caspar Hit The Road, the travelogue feature length outing of two popular YouTubers, presented a genuine new video publishing concept. It enjoyed success too with Peter Kay’s Car Share, Top Gear: Greatest Hits and John Bishop’s latest stand-up title. It presaged another winning Christmas for the BBC, one whose hits, such as Luther, the newest Sherlock and a Doctor Who Christmas special, will be making their way to DVD in Q1, alongside a slate that includes its big new year programmes too, such as War And Peace. BBC Worldwide director of consumer products Andrew Moutrie said: “The BBC works with the best talent to create programmes that the British public love and want to own, or give as gifts – so it’s little surprise that these titles have performed impressively this Christmas.” Worldwide’s head of sales for consumer products Rhidian Bragg added: “We’re pleased with our Q4 results on both new release & catalogue and we’re now looking forward to a strong Q1 with the release of a brilliant array of drama titles, such as Luther Series 4, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, Dickensian and War & Peace.”
We’ve got a Year In Numbers look at 2015 on our website, with more to come in the shape of Top 10s of 2015, more on Universal's year and loads of other features. Keep checking back in the coming days, as we’ve got tons of editorial due, including a look at recent and forthcoming releases we’ve been viewing and even some book reviews…
And what of the post-Christmas sales period? There have been a few notable successes since December 25, chief among them being another winner for Signature, with its Rise Of The Footsoldier Part II sitting pretty near the top of the Official Charts Company’s top sellers. It’s shifted some 45,000 units across the assorted SKUs in its first 10 days on sale, which means Signature is coming good again on its promise and beginning 2016 in much the same way as it kicked off 2015. Commenting on its success, the company’s sales director Gemma Stockley said: “Everybody at Signature and Carnaby are delighted with the impressive week one performance of Rise of the Footsoldier Part II. The fantastic results show that the hunger for quality British gangster movies has been reignited which was not only reflected in the impressive sales but the outstanding support we received from our partners across digital and physical platforms.”
Another feature performing strongly is Icon’s revitalised franchise, Transporter Refuelled, which has got off to a swift start and again marks another bright start to a new year for the independent. Commenting on its success, Icon’s Chris Warrington said: “Thanks to a highly-tuned campaign, widespread retail support and an audaciously entertaining franchise that perfectly services the core DVD buying audience, The Transporter Refuelled was a great result for Icon to end the year on.”
Meanwhile, the pages of the tabloid press, newspaper colour supplements and women’s magazines have been full of fitness releases and Davina McCall, the queen of keep fit titles for the best part of this millennium, has returned to the throne with a release through Spirit, Five Week Fit. Ms McCall has been PRing the title with the same kind of energy she brings to the filming, with all the accompanying noise it makes. Spirit’s Robert Callow said: “What a great way to start the year, we are absolutely thrilled with the sales of Davina 5 Week Fit since its launch and to be going into the weekend as the market number one is a real added bonus. Thanks as ever to all of our retail partners for the fantastic level of support. Davina's marketing campaign is encompassing, heavyweight TV, poster sites, bus sides, press and outdoor projections of Davina. This combined with her prolific use of social media and key PR appearances has really driven sales and will continue to so over the coming weeks.”

Fremantle has unveiled more of its plans for its reshaped home entertainment business, with what is almost a reversal of roles between the production company and its former distributed label Network. Before Christmas, Fremantle had announced it was licensing the remaining 40 per cent of its Thames catalogue to Network as part of a new deal with the independent. And Fremantle has now exited its S&D business - with Network now handling the sales for Fremantle titles and catalogue, including its ongoing WWE releases, as well as distributed labels such as Fabulous and Mediumrare. However, Fremantle will continue to manage Distribution of their titles through Technicolor.  In addition, Fremantle will now be actively licensing out forthcoming new titles that it would previously have released. "We've had a successful home entertainment business," said Fremantle's Pete Kalhan, "but we are a production company, that's our core business and our priority. We'll continue to  license and manage our catalogue, albeit via a different business model. We've long had a relationship with Tim Beddows and Network and there was only one company that could manage this for us. We've reversed our relationship - we used to handle sales for Network and it makes sense for Network to set up sales for itself and us and distributed labels."
For Network, it's a further signal of the label's ambitious growth plans. The new sales arm will be staffed by the former Fremantle sales team, including Claire Bailey, Steve Staniland and Jerry Whelan. And with the addition of the rest of the Thames catalogue, as well as further product deals due to be unveiled shortly, as well as its ongoing deals with the likes of ITV and Studiocanal, it signifies Network and founder Tim Beddows' faith in the physical market and his ambitious plans for the company. "We've always had our own studio, which handles everything from production, authoring, editing, design and IT but we've never done sales before. It's a natural progression for us in terms of expansion and we're now completely a self-sufficient industry one-stop shop. We’ll be looking for more labels to represent on the sales side as we can offer everything. As the team settles in, we’ll be ramping up and releasing more product too.” In an official statement, Beddows paid tribute to his new team, adding: “I’m delighted to welcome Claire, Jerry and Steve to the Network family. Their knowledge, expertise and insight in this industry is second to none and, as the industry changes, we are looking forward to working with them and the labels to build something refreshingly new and significant.” Head of sales Claire Bailey further said: “We have worked with Network for many years and have long respected the company and its ability to develop its amazing home entertainment catalogue, so we're thrilled to be joining the team to build on its success and continue our strong partnerships with our third party labels.”
February 22. That’s the date that the 24th James Bond film, Spectre, will be making its way to Blu-ray and DVD, from MGM through Fox. The $850 million worldwide grosser arrives on Digital HD formats a few days before, on February 19 The film has now taken almost £95 million in the UK, no mean feat for Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as 007. More on this in the coming weeks…

Piracy reared its ugly head again over the Christmas period, as rips of high quality DVD screeners sent out to Academy Award voters ended up finding their way onto illegal download sites and were soon all over the Internet. Films included The Hateful 8 and The Revenant. One of the first people to spot a fellow traveller watching a high quality illegal download of The Hateful 8 in the UK, heralding its arrival on these shores in illegal formats, was HMV’s head of film and TV Rudy Osorio, who had to misfortune – and displeasure – to see a commuter watching the epic not as the director intended, on the big screen or high definition disc, rather on a mobile phone, on a journey. His Tweet was followed up by us at The Raygun and soon went viral. As Osorio said: “Clearly the problem is not going away. It feels like time to raise our focus as an industry on piracy again and examine if the length of theatrical windows versus the actual time films spend on screens is feeding this demand.” While the blame can be laid at the studios’ door for sending out screeners, adding weight to many illegal downloaders’ comments, the mere fact that the film has been downloaded 1.3 million times could hamper its chances around the world. It further raises the profile of illegal downloads – comments pages in, say, The Guardian, routinely direct those not in to the know as to where to find illegal downloads of films such as The Hateful 8. Furthermore, the more people using torrents, the quicker users can access pirated content. Worse still, The Martian has now joined the most torrented film list too. 
Even the release group behind the illegal download of The Hateful 8 has said sorry for making the film available to those in the know, albeit in a half-hearted way. For the full unexpurgated apology from Hive-CM8 might offer up some regret for having posted the film, but it goes on to claim that its actions might have helped Tarantino and co. (As we said on Twitter, it’s something of a non-apology apology.) The full statement (printed here verbatim, typos and grammatical errors included, they’re not ours, honestly) noted: “We didnt plan to comment at all on recent events, but we feel now that we should. Sorry to disappoint M but there was no hack or any such thing . we got the copies sold from a guy on the street, no decryption was needed. we were definately not the only ones. cpl other movies have been on the net days before, not done from us. So we wanted to share this movies with the people who are not rich enough or not able to watch all nominated movies in the cinema. Of course this files are not representing the movies how they can be enjoyed in the cinema As said in our nfo, please support the producers and watch all movies in the cinema on a big screen, like you should do anyhow. The Producers need the money from ticket sales to get back the production costs. As for Hateful Eight Movie: We feel sorry for the trouble we caused by releasing that great movie before cinedate even has begun. we never intended to hurt anyone by doing that, we didnt know it would get that popular that quickly. The Hateful Eight is an excellent,thrilling and entertaining Western that combines terrific direction,a fantastic cast,a wonderful script,beautiful photography and a memorable score. All of those elements make The Hateful Eight an unforgettable film that is Quentin Tarantino at his best. Since everyone is now talking about this movie we dont think the producers will loose any money at cinedate, and we tell you now why. we actually think this has created a new type of media hype that is more present in the news,radio and in the papers than starwars, and the promotional costs for this were free. If lets say 5% of the people planned to watch this movie at cinemadate, due to this media push we unintenionally created, we believe that now 40% of the people will watch this movie in the cinema cause everyone is talking about it and everyone wants to see the movie that created so much noise. this will push the cinema tickets sale for sure. we really hope this helped out the producers in the longrun, so that the production costs are covered and more. we also think that the hateful 8 movie is the top candidate for the awards and will win by a mile over others. thx tarantino for this wonderful movie. sorry it was around christmas we didnt plan that at all either, we wont do another movie before its cinedate, and we def wont go up to 40 as planned, we think we have done enough already.” 
He might be a master of PR, but sometimes, Quentin Tarantino can’t avoid headlines and controversy, with the release of The Hateful 8 in the UK being marred by a row between distributor Entertainment (known variously as EV, EiV, EFD and various other acronyms) and exhibitors. We’re not always ones to report on trading disputes (this writer can trace assorted rows between distributors and other parties to the rental days and, after that, EUK spats with assorted suppliers), but the argument, sparked by the exclusive 70mm presentation at the Odeon in Leicester Square, has gone into the public domain after customers started asking Cineworld why they couldn't see the film at their cinemas. As anyone in the industry knows, exhibitors often play hardball when negotiating terms, much like rental dealers in the 1980s and 1990s, but for a row such as this to become public has lifted the lid on such issues. In a statement, Entertainment said: “Cineworld had made us aware that they were very unhappy that The Hateful Eight had been booked into the Odeon Leicester Square for an exclusive 70mm Ultra Panavision presentation, and specifically that they would therefore not be able to play the film at their Picturehouse Central venue. Due to the special facilities required for the unique 70mm Ultra Panavision presentation we needed the largest theatre and screen possible in the West End and the Odeon Leicester Square was the natural choice. The technical elements and costs involved with this special presentation meant that this would need to be the exclusive West End venue. The Odeon Leicester Square seats 1680 and Picturehouse Central only seats 344 so clearly this was not a viable alternative. Cineworld had every opportunity to book the film in their other cinemas across the country on the same basis as other exhibitors and declined to do so. This is despite the fact that there is no dispute over the financial terms for this release. We feel very sorry for Cineworld’s customers and in particular their Unlimited cardholders who will be denied the chance to see the film at a Cineworld cinema using their Unlimited card - a result of this Picturehouse issue relating to a single London West End cinema.”
And, with the characteristic online reaction and accompanying brouhaha, BAFTA has unveiled the nominations for this year’s awards, the early morning announcement on January 8 ensuring most of Friday was spent discussing who’d done well and who was snubbed. The full list of nods is here, but it’s with some serendipity that a press release arrives in our inbox from Studiocanal announcing the impending arrival on physical and digital formats of Carol, which along with Bridge Of Spies leads the nominations with nine apiece. The Todd Haynes film will land in March, giving Studiocanal time to prepare a sleeve that takes in its nominations and, potentially, wins too. The Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara starred is also likely to figure heavily in Oscar nominations and statuettes too, following on from its strong theatrical performance and multiple appearances in year-end polls. Commenting on the release, Studiocanal’s Kristin Ryan said: “Todd Haynes masterpiece Carol has been one of the best reviewed films of recent years and is the standout success of this year’s awards season. We’re delighted with the nine BAFTA nominations this morning and are excited about the home entertainment release this March.”

Anyone travelling by public transport across London over the Christmas break can’t have failed to have seen the adverts for the forthcoming homegrown thriller Breakdown. It’s following a familiar route to market as many of its contemporaries, with a Digital HD and theatrical release on Friday January 15 ahead of a DVD release on Monday January 18. But it marks something of a different avenue for Soda Pictures, which is adding more DTV-friendly titles to its already diverse roster. Commenting on the release, the company’s Louise Rae said: “We have been working closely with the Fairbrass team of producer Luke and star Craig, with an eye-catching tube campaign launching awareness of the film in advance of the premiere event next Tuesday. Limited theatrical release on Friday 15th will be followed by a wide DVD release on Monday 18th, with retailers sharing our enthusiasm for the title and giving it great support across all four major grocers and HMV. Craig Fairbrass has a strong track record in the genre with prior outings such as Rise Of The Footsoldier, and in this leading role as a contract killer he truly cements his place as one of Britain's premiere hard men.”
Also landing in early January, Picturehouse Entertainment, via it’s new arrangement with Spirit, have an exciting release in the shape of How To Change The World, a documentary which looks at the early days of the eco-movement and the formation of Greenpeace, which came as tiny boats protested against dubious activities in freezing inhospitable seafaring conditions. It arrives with a high profile theatrical release and a wealth of strong reviews, many saying it plays as much like a thriller as it does a documentary. Commenting on its release Gabriel Swartland said “Recently nominated for Best Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards, this is an exceptional film that tells a gripping story. We are supporting the DVD and Digital release  on January 11 across a range of channels and also have support from both the BFI and Greenpeace. Though dealing with the early days of the modern environmental movement, the story is still very relevant today and will make for inspiring viewing for early 2016.”
Just before the Christmas shutdown, we reported on the story of the five men given hefty sentences, including jail for some of them, for their part in a release group, aiming to be the first to post illegal downloads of big films online. And, just ahead of December 25, some further information was released not just about those sentences, but further reaction to their jail terms and more. First, here’s word from Judge Nicholas Webb, who handed out the terms. He said: “The film industry is a multi-billion pound industry where a great deal of money is put at risk. Just about all the expenditure is up front and if successful the investors make a profit to reinvest into another project. Many films do not cover production costs, less than 50 per cent do, and they have to rely on the sales of DVDs and Blu-Rays. Any activity that jeopardises that reduces the chance of it making a profit. “It also means there can be less employment in the cinemas, which in turn relies on different trades and services. Most intelligent people see the economic truth in that.” And in terms of reaction, here’s UK Cinema Association chief executive Phil Clapp, who noted: “While the sector does all it can – with the support of colleagues in film distribution and FACT – to ensure that cinema sites remains as secure as possible against film thieves, we recognise that this is just one part of a wider and complex chain. The challenging work that FACT undertakes in tackling online distribution of illegally-recorded film, of which this latest successful prosecution is a great example, deserves everyone’s support and recognition.”
Amazon news  now and plenty of announcements emanating from the UK arm, its Prime Instant Video offering as well as its US parent. One interesting titbit, which came in the news that The Man In The High Castle, its Philip K Dick adaptation, has become the most streamed original series from the company. It had already earned its stripes as its most watched pilot. Commenting on its success and subsequent renewal, Amazon Studios vp Roy Price said: “We're very proud of this outstanding series created by Frank Spotnitz, Scott Free and Isa Dick Hackett, which Amazon customers around the world have enthusiastically embraced, and we look forward to the second season.”
Over at Netflix, similarly, as part of a wide-ranging keynote address at CES, Netflix’s chiefs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos have revealed, among other things that The Ridiculous Six, its Adam Sandler starring exclusive feature, had broken records in its first month on the service. Sarandos said; “The Ridiculous Six, by way of example, in the first 30 days on Netflix it's been the most-watched movie in the history of Netflix. It’s also enjoyed a spot at number one in every territory we operate in, and in many of them it's still number one.”
And before we return to Netflix, we’ve got in quite a few of these now, it’s 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 

“You are witnessing the birth of a global TV network”
Reed Hastings, at the Netflix CES keynote speech, on its expansion into what it now claims is 190 countries. 
“[Netflix] is not anti theatre. We're pro movies. International windowing of movies is a way for the studios to skim the markets. It’s managed dissatisfaction. [The Netflix model] removes one of the key reasons people resort to piracy.”
Ted Sarandos, at the same event… You can see the keynote address here… 
It’s all about Star Wars The Force Awakens, still, as the film motors on, shattering records along the way. Its weekend total to the end of January 3 it had got up to more than £97 million, that figure has now eased past the £100 million mark. In fact, as of Friday January 8, it had overtaken Skyfall’s £103.2 million haul and is now the most successful film ever in the UK… New entries at the start of January included Joy (more than £1.5 million) and The Danish Girl (just shy of £1.8 million). An impressive haul for Daddy’s Home took it past the £8 million mark too. 
Back to Netflix (see above) and the studio has unveiled a number of new dates and details about its forthcoming programmes, with a March 18 date set for the second series of Daredevil, one of its most acclaimed series thus far. And its Ricky Gervais feature film Special Correspondents, starring The Office creator alongside the likes of Eric Bana, is due to debut on April 29…
Returning franchise alert: Michael Bay has confirmed that he will be directing the fifth film in the Transformers franchise. But, the bombastic Bay said, it will be for the last time. “I have to pass the reins to someone else.” It’s due no earlier than 2017…
Here’s some rather strange Netflix-related ideas… 
Oh, and here’s us on some of the lowpoints and most annoying things of of 2015 in our other guise on The Ransom Note…
Follow us on, for regular updates and scurrilous gossip…
Forthcoming from Netflix…
A prime example of how to put together a great trailer fro Studiocanal…
Set a few miles up the road from The Raygun’s HQ…
More from Deadpool, one of the early 2016 highlights, we’d wager… Oh and be warned, it’s VERY Red Band…
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