NEWSLETTER :: May 20 2010

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It Was A Good Week For... Sherlock Holmes. Not only did it start briskly, but, better still, it didn't go as low as many anticipated...

It Was A Bad Week For...
Well, we've scoured it, and apart from discussion about broadband and increasing its penetration, the new Programme For Government document issued this week by the coalition fails to even mention piracy...

As the weary troops start the long homeward journey to the UK from Cannes, the ink was beginning to dry on assorted deals and announcements were beginning to filter out from the Croisette. Icon is reported to have signed UK rights for the eagerly awaited (and decades in the making) movie version of Jack Kerouac's On The Road, which boasts the involvement of Francis Ford Coppola. Kaleidoscope has been busy too, signing Fireball Begins, the prequel to Fireball, from Golden Network Asia, with a release slated for next summer. Other signings include The Living And The Dead, Midgets Vs Mascots (no, really, it is called that), Kill Speed, Universal Squadrons and the World War II series Apocalypse. Liberation's Spencer Pollard said: "We have had a busy market and are very happy with the acquisitions we can announce. These titles are excellent additions to what is already becoming a strong slate for 2011. Apocalypse's terrestrial TV platform in the UK with Channel 4, coupled with its sales success in France of more than 500,000 copies sold in its first 6 weeks, goes to show our commitment to acquiring and exploiting mainstream commercial titles." More next week on the newsletter and website...

*Shameless self-plugging alert* Also on The Raygun website this week: a major report profiling WDSHE's Q4 titles, a look at Icon's Precious, 10 things we learnt from reading the BVA's annual yearbook and more, with daily updates over the next week... Click here We've also added a new archive of old newsletters, click here:

Speaking of Cannes, The Guardian stepped away from the red carpet to investigate the real business of the festival, putting together an interesting video report on the Cannes film market itself. It includes a hefty plug for Revolver's forthcoming Zombie Women Of Satan (June 21) and an insight into some of the piles of rubbish that fearless acquisitions people have to wade through... (Message to the reporter, however – smarten yourself up.)

When we reported from markets earlier this year, we joked about finding a horror film with Danny Dyer and assorted East End gangsters in it. That throwaway line has, somewhat inevitably, become a reality. Dyer, the king of DTV who seems to have shrugged off any controversy following his Zoo column, appears in Dead Cert, alongside the likes of Steve, Berkoff, Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Craig Fairbrass and Billy Murray, as a bunch of East End gangsters asked to sell their club to a bunch of businessmen. It turns out, however, that the shadowy group are, in fact, vampires. The title has been snapped up by Momentum for September release, and the company is weighing up limited theatrical options. "It's got two bestselling genres in one DTV," quipped Momentum's Clare Dundrow.    

Dead Cert is part of an impressive Q3 line-up from the company, which boasts top end DTV product alongside theatrical successes. The company is currently celebrating a strong early performance for Cockney swearathon 44 Inch Chest and Valhalla Rising (as featured on last week's newsletter and our website, with its outstanding TV spots which, when we spotted them this week, really blew a hole in the breaks) and its forthcoming slate, as unveiled to The Raygun this week, gives cause for further optimism. More will be appearing on our website in the next week, but highlights include the Michael Cera smart comedy Youth In Revolt (in a gorgeous looking sleeve, out in July), The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (the first in the carefully timed trilogy and backed with TV spots on its July release), and strong family fare in The Spy Next Door (also July, to coincide with the first week of the holidays) and the £5 million plus box office grosser Dear John. Its DTV and limited theatrical slate is equally impressive. It includes July's The Bleeding (Vinnie Jones and vampires); Goemon, an epic martial arts tale from the director of Casshern (also July); August's Burning Bright (a tiger on the loose film that is building a buzz with horror aficionados); The Torment, also due August and a strong British mockumentary that again has strong word of mouth and anticipation among the cognoscenti; The Passion Within, starring Penelope Cruz and Adrien Brody French zombie flick The Horde ("Like a film version of video games such as Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising," said Momentum's Adam Eldrett) and Manson Girl, a based on a true story tale of some of cult leader Charles Manson's acolytes. "There's such a broad range of product there," said Momentum's Louisa Mitchell. "We've got some real premium DTV fare. It's our best slate ever for the third quarter."     

It was one of the most talked about TV programmes of the week and now Universal Playback has unveiled its release strategy for the thoroughly entertaining Boy George docudrama Worried About The Boy. The feature length programme, which aired on Sunday night on BBC2, drawing an impressive 2 million plus viewers, charts the early days of George's career and offered a fascinating look at the late 1970s, early 80s London scene. It garnered acres of coverage both before and after the event – the latter illustrating why Playback's July 5 release should perform strongly. The release will not only feature the film and a whole host of extras, but also a full-length George and Culture Club greatest hits CD. It also represents the first DVD release following Universal's acquisition of Carnival Films, which is not only a television production powerhouse, but is now acquiring rights too, for television and DVD release. The coming months are set to see an increased product flow coming through Universal's Playback imprint. Commenting on the release Universal's Eleanor Fraser said: "Worried About The Boy is a prime example of our commitment to acquire and promote home grown content. We’re delighted to be releasing the DVD as a two disc set that also includes Culture Club’s  At Worst:  Best Of, as this will further promote and enhance a drama that features top UK talent and production values. We are highly confident the success of the BBC 2 broadcast will be repeated with our July 5 release."

Metrodome has signed a deal with vod platform Projector.TV to show some of its titles over the online service. It will take in new titles such  as I Am Love and Lebanon on their respective vod dates and catalogue goodies such as Shifty and 50 Dead Men Walking. Commenting on the deal Metrodome's Mark Webster said: "We are delighted to be supporting Projector TV by entering into this non-exclusive selected title deal. At Metrodome we pride ourselves on supporting New Media platforms and growing future revenue streams, and this has led to us being one of the front-running independent distributors in the field of on demand home entertainment."

Plenty of toing and froing around the industry over the past week or so, with a clutch of new appointments and the likes. The biggest moves came in the heart of Soho. Last week saw Fox unveil at new md, Robert Price. The new chief at the UK arm of the studio arrives from publishing giant Future, where he was chief executive. He joins with Fox currently holding the crown as biggest studio across retail and rental and, further buoyed by Avatar, theatrical too. Commenting on the deal Steven Leighton, Fox senior vp overseeing Northern Europe and Asia Pacific said: "I couldn’t be more delighted to have Robert join the team during this exciting time, and with his exceptional business skills, ensure Fox remains at the forefront of the UK’s home entertainment market."   

Changes afoot over at HMV, with a reshuffle that sees Gary Warren transferring over to its newly owned MAMA group and Steve Napleton moving into the commercial director role. This will see Napleton, who has been at HMV since 2007 and was formerly at Blockbuster and Amazon, among others, overseeing all product as well as supply chain, customer services, e-commerce, digital and tickets. Meanwhile Warren will take the title of managing director of content and talent at MAMA, with responsibility for its acts and venues. Comment on the moves, group ceo Simon Fox said: "Both these appointments are of strategic importance to HMV and potentially of significant value to our suppliers and their artists. In taking on this exciting new role at MAMA, Gary can play a key part in bringing our live and retail businesses more closely together, with all the benefits and synergies this will create. Similarly, in combining HMV Product with e-commerce and digital, Steve now has the opportunity to develop a powerful commercial platform within the business that will further support our multi-channel aspirations."

At 2 entertain, meanwhile, Brian Hill has stepped up to the board at the company, with a new sales director role enabling the former EUK and Woolies staffer to be entirely customer focused. The company has also strengthened its marketing team by appointing Julia Mallinson, formerly at BBC Worldwide and Entertainment Rights, as head of marketing. Commenting on the moves, Paul 2e ceo Dempsey said: "Brian’s extensive insight into both the home entertainment sector and the UK retail marketplace makes him perfectly placed to support the future development of our business. Julia brings extensive understanding of marketing and communications to 2 entertain. Her knowledge and experience will be key in ensuring the greatest impact for our releases amongst UK consumers, driving both physical and digital sales to further expand our leading position in the TV market."

Lastly, Lace Digital Media Sales (LDMS) has unveiled its new Irish operation, headed up by Eoghan Burke in Dublin, The former sales manager at Sony Ireland has been in the industry for 16 years and will offer independent labels sales and distribution opportunities in Ireland. As well as looking after LDMS' UK customers across the sea, he will also be inking deals for Ireland with other distributors from the UK and signing homegrown product and labels too. He will have direct relationships with all Irish retailers, with physical distribution being handled by Sony DADC. Lace Group md Adam Lacey said: "The Irish market is close to five per cent of the volume of the English market yet we only achieved one per cent last year. We need focus and expertise in this area and having a dedicated office in Dublin, run by someone of Eoghan’s experience, we hope to generate substantially more revenue for the labels we represent." Burke added: "Lace has a diverse range of products that haven’t been presented to our discerning Irish accounts, this coupled with the expertise and support that Lace has to offer we can’t fail. I am very much looking forward to developing and growing Lace’s business to its rightful place within the Irish market."

Back to Wardour Street, where HMV was also celebrating winning an award for its purehmv scheme. It picked up the CRM (customer relationship management)  Loyalty Programme gong at Marketing Week's Engage awards night. Purehmv, which offers "money can't buy" rewards for purchases in stores and online,   beat off challenges from a shortlist that included O2, Coca Cola, Barclaycard, Dove and Walker's Crisps. The award was picked up by HMV's head of CRM Matt Button and purehmv rewards planner Katie Aust.

Last news of the week from HMV: its HMV 5-A-Side Industry Challenge event held at Wembley raised almost £15,000 (after costs) for its chosen charity CLIC Sargent. Notable industry entrants included Paramount, Fox, Disney, ITV and Fremantle.   

More charity news, as this has come our way and is well worth mentioning. Action For Children FIFE Committee (it stands for Film Industry Football Event, in case you were wondering) has launched a new online film auction to raise money for Action For Children. Information here and the ebay site is here  Get bidding, or get donating to them now. Or, better still, do both.

The Raygun has already covered Rhod Gilbert's sophomore DVD from 4DVD due this November (and its marvellous title, Rhod Gilbert And The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst) and even had one of our roving reporters review it, but this week the official announcement landed in our in-box and we loved Gilbert's quote so much, we'll give it to you here. "I'm really happy to be working with 4DVD again, after the success of my debut DVD. This latest show is a journey through my life, generally upsetting people, and basically ranting and raving for an hour. It seems to have worked before and I’m sure it will again." Head of 4DVD David Root added: "Rhod is one of comedy’s hottest rising stars and it’s great to be working with him again. 4DVD is committed to developing new comedy talent and we look forward to building on the fantastic success of his debut DVD."

Fresh from announcing its imminent release of the "new" version of Metropolis (see last week's Newsletter), Eureka Entertainment has signed a deal with Bounty Films to release a range of titles under its Queer Culture Cinema banner.

Boys and men will be in mourning this week at the news that Megan Fox, star of the first two Transformers films and a woman who regularly tops most beautiful/gorgeous babe type polls, but has yet to trouble the Academy Awards, is unlikely to appear in the third toy-related blockbuster outing. It appears that Michael Bay, the brash director of the equally brash and hugely successful films, has personally decided not to cast the stunning yet slightly orange starlet in the next sequel. Apparently sourced indicate that they are looking for a "new love interest" to help move the plot forward, and this snub has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Fox compared Bay to Hitler during promotional activity for the sophomore Transformers film last year...

Meanwhile, the rumour mill now has Gemma Arterton, Gravesend girl made good, to take on the female lead in the forthcoming film. Probably the first in a million Internet rumours...

We at The Raygun love Flight Of The Conchords, as any right-thinking person would, so we were pleased to see that star Jemaine Clement has signed up  to play a villain in Men In Black III. Given that he joins a list of former MiB baddies that includes the wonderful turn by Vincent D'Onofrio in the first, we reckon this can only be a good thing.    

Meanwhile, among the welter of 3D related news from Cannes, interesting to see the wonderful Battle Royale is being rejigged and given a new 3D look. Apart from asking the question "why?" we are still quite excited by this...

Once again, we've been glued to Cannes updates, #cannes . Also keep an eye out for buzz building on Universal's DVD friendly

We've spent the last day or two having a good peer around the newly relaunched Film24 website, over here at after being sent information on its revamp. We'll let you have a good look around for yourself, but there's loads of film-related goodness here and more than its fair share of home entertainment-related stuff too, with consumer downloads soon to come too via its vod service. As joint head at Film24 Andrew Burns said: " We’ve been researching what film fans want to see online and have responded with a fun, informative site with a clean, easily navigable format. We believe we have been able to digitally recreate the atmosphere of Film24, making this an essential site for all film lovers."

As mentioned in our Momentum story (see above), this is ace:

Some brilliant animation from DreamWorks, with a wonderful voice cast...

More kids' business, this looks ace:

Currently building a buzz, opening shortly. Eagle-eye readers will spot some familiar names among the executive producers...


2.22 (Momentum)
Afro Samurai Complete Murder Sessions (Manga)
An American Affair (Scanbox)
Are You Being Served Series 9 (2entertain)
Axis Of War My Long March (Metrodome)
Behind Closed Doors (Demand DVD)
Bob The Builder Legend Of The Golden Hammer (HIT)
Capitalism: A Love Story (Paramount)
City Of The Living Dead (Arrow)
Danny Baker’s The Game (Revelation)
Did You Hear About The Morgans (SPHE)
Dorothy (Optimum) (Blu-ray)
Dragon Storm (Revolver)
Facejacker (4DVD)
Game Of Their Lives (Metrodome)
The Good Life Series Two (Acorn)
The Guitar (High Fliers)
Heartless (Lionsgate)
iCarly – iGo To Japan (Paramount)
Instant Swamp (Third Window Films)
I Know You Know (Network)
Lions’ Den (Axiom Films)
National Geographic: Britain's Greatest Machines: Series One (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Triumph of Life (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Search for the Afghan Girl (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Mysteries of Egypt Box Set (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Into the Great Pyramids (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Egypt Underworld: Pathways to Eternity (Fremantle)
National Geographic: King Tut's Curse (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Megastructures Box Set (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Supercopters (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Super Rigs (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Super Subs (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Dinosaur Discoveries Box Set (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Dino Autopsy (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Dino Deathtrap (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Reconstructing T-Rex (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Sea Monster 2D (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Big Cats Box Set (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Cheetahs The Deadly Race (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Stalking Leopards (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Super Pride: Africa's Largest Lion Pride (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Sharks Box Set (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Hammerhead Highway (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Tiger Sharks (Fremantle)
National Geographic: Ultimate Shark (Fremantle)
Normal (Matchbox Films)
One Way Out (Demand DVD)
People Like Us Series 2 (2entertain)
Pimp (Revolver)
Precious (Icon)
Princess Of Persia (Revolver)
Robin-B-Hood (Cine Asia)
St Trinian’s 2 (EV)
Scott Walker: 30th Century Man (Verve Pictures)
Sharman The Complete Series (Networl)
Slaughtered (Scanbox)
Something Special Out And About (2entertain)
Spiral (Universal indi VISION)
Still Walking (Drakes Avenue)
Thomas And Friends: Thomas And The Runaway Kite (HIT)
UFC 109 (Clear Vision)
Unrivalled (E1)
Up In The Air (Paramount)
Van Diemens Land (High Fliers)
Vanishing Views Of Great Britain (Demand DVD)
Waterloo Road The Complete Series Three (Acorn)
WWE Shawn Michaels My Journey (Clear Vision)


Armored (SPHE)
Astro Boy (E1)
Ben 10 Alien Force Complete Season 1 (Warner)
Ben 10 Alien Force Volume 3 (Warner)
Benny Hill Annual 1982 (Network)
Benny Hill Annual 1983 (Network)
Blitz Street (2entertain)
Bodyguards And Assassins (E1)
The Book Of Eli (EV)
Daybreakers (Lionsgate)
The FA Cup Final 2010 (Spirit)
The Graves (Anchor Bay)
Happy Birthday Fifi (2entertain)
Holy Water (Centurion)
In Tranzit (Universal Pictures)
Jack Cardiff Cameraman (Optimum)
Lewis Series 4 (ITV Studios)
London's Burning: The Complete Series 14 (Network)
The Miracle Of Saint Ralph (Revolver)
Money (2entertain)
One Night In Turin (Kaleidoscope)
Satan’s Baby Doll (Shameless)
The Seasons With Alan Titchmarsh (2entertain)
The Sky Crawlers (Manga)
Twentieth Century Boys Trilogy (4 Digital Media)
Vengeance (Optimum)
Winter In Wartime (Kaleidoscope)

Bad Lieutenant (E1)
Cop Out (Warner)
Heartless (Lionsgate)
Kites (Reliance Big Entertainment)
Pimp (Revolver)
Prince Of Persia (Disney)
Streetdance 3D (Vertigo)


Fish Story (Thrd Window Films)
The Happiest Girl In The World (Soda)
The Losers (Optimum)
Rec 2 (E1)
Sex And The City 2 (Warner)
Space Chimps 2 (Entertainment)
Tooth Fairy (Fox)

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