NEWSLETTER :: May 13 2010


It Was A Good Week For... More good news for Avatar (see below), let's hope that next week's release of Sherlock Holmes gives us something else to cheer about...

It Was A Bad Week For... Private Ryan. Not only does he have the war to contend with, but there are also a few technical issues with Saving Private Ryan on Blu-ray. Thankfully, these are now being resolved...

This week on the website: Loads of new features up, including a look at Nowhere Boy an rock biopics, Birdemic, Valhalla Rising and loads more. See it here and remember, we update daily. We've also archived all previous Raygun newsletters, check here if you missed any:
Another week and it appears as if Avatar is once more dominating the proceedings. Fox has this week announced that the film has notched up another record, making it the biggest selling Blu-ray title EVER in the UK, outstripping previous record holder The Dark Knight's lifetime sales of 490,633 in less than two weeks. Avatar has now sold more than half a million units on the format. On a global scale, it has now sold almost 20 million units, with almost a third of these on Blu-ray. It is now halfway towards worldwide bestseller Finding Nemo's lifetime sales. Fox svp for Northern Europe an Asia Pacific Steven Leighton said: "Blu-ray is the ultimate way for fans to enjoy Avatar at home and experience Pandora in all its awe-inspiring clarity in high definition. It’s no surprise that viewers are choosing to own Avatar on Blu-ray and with 22.2 per cent of our overall sales to date, this clearly demonstrates that UK consumers are embracing Blu-ray as the format of choice. The BVA's Lavinia Carey added: "It's fitting that Avatar is the title that inspires consumers to buy into Blu-ray and lift it to the next level of household penetration as the best way to watch high definition content."

Meanwhile, AGI has been celebrating its own involvement in the release after using two UK facilities and one in Austria help produce a whopping 4.5 million O-rings, 7.5 million sleeves, 10 million inserts and lenticular artcards for 11 different territories. AGI account director Ainara Rubenach said: "It was a real team effort between the Fox and AGI teams project managing from style-guide stage and the many localised versions through to hitting all deadlines. We are delighted to see Avatar breaking UK records for the opening day sales of Blu-ray."  

Dateline: Cannes. Our sources tell us that a strong UK contingent was in the south of France this week for the opening festival, most of whom could be seen watching Fulham nearly winning that Europa League-thingy last night. "The great and the good here in force," our source said, noting that it was still early days, before adding, "but strangely there doesn't appear to be one major film dominating here or many films of any significance debuting." Current hot topics and rumours revolved around why Ridley Scott wasn't at the Robin Hood premiere and why the Weinsteins put back their party until Saturday night... Expect to see everyone crowded into Morrisons for Millwall in the play offs, sorry, the Cup Final on Saturday.

On the deal front, the usual suspects were keeping busy around the Croisette, with a slew of announcements hitting our desk. E1 took the opportunity to unveil a couple of titles it had already inked deals for. Fair Game is directed by Doug Liman and stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn and is based on the memoirs of CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose tales of hush hush goings on behind the scenes embarrassed the Bush administration, while The Runaways stars Twilight's Kristen Stewart alongside Dakota Fanning and tells the tale of real life US new wavers Joan Jett and The Runaways. The deals were negotiated by E1's svp for worldwide acquisitions Lara Thompson, among others. E1's director of film Alex Hamilton said: "E1 is thrilled to be bringing these terrific River Road Entertainment productions to UK and Irish audiences. As a leading independent distributor in the UK, we’re committed to bringing premium theatrical releases to market and firmly believe that both of these quality pictures will resonate with our audiences." Both will be out later this year.

Metrodome, meanwhile, has picked up the latest from DTV king Danny Dyer. The Last Seven teams him up with real-life pal (and Millwall supporter) Tamer Hassan and is a "post-apocalyptic London-based thriller". Dyer has the magic touch when it comes to home entertainment – Dead Man Running has notched up 100,000 units in some two months. Metrodome's Jezz Vernon said: "Danny and Tamer have a massive fan base who are always eagerly awaiting their next release. We are very excited to be releasing The Last Seven, an all-action British thriller that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats."

Another key British independent, Revolver, has also inked a major deal, signing up The Kid, the Nick Moran helmed adaptation of the bestselling true crime tale of the same name, which follows the exploits of a boy growing up on a poor London estate and, abused by his parents, bullied at school and ignored by social services, ends up falling into a brutal life of crime. The book has already sold more than 500,000 copies in the UK; the film stars, among others, Rupert Friend, Ioan Gruffudd, Alfie Allen and Bernard Hill. 

Back to football (a paragraph or two above – do keep up) and  congratulations to Chelsea on winning the Premier League trophy this season. And with the FA Cup Final taking place this weekend, Spirit Entertainment and its partner Pitch International were further hoping for more glory from the blues. The DVD of this season's campaign at Stamford Bridge is due out on June 7, with Spirit handling the sales and distribution. Spirit's Robert Callow said: " We are delighted to be working with Pitch International and Chelsea FC on this exciting release. Chelsea have enjoyed an incredible season which saw them scoring over 103 goals, a Premiership record, Drogba securing the Golden Boot and of course winning the Premiership title. Fingers crossed for the double on Saturday."

Talking of football, there was fevered activity on Tuesday night as Kaleidoscope's One Night In Turin played at cinemas around the country as part of the indie's groundbreaking theatrical launch. A live Q&A from Newcastle was beamed to selected cinemas around the country (with sell outs in London and Newcastle) and, according to Kaleidoscope, the evening, which grossed some £40,000 with further bookings through into next week, has set things up nicely for its May 31 DVD release. The company's Spencer Pollard said: "We're delighted to achieve the box office number we did from a one off event and the audience who came along were very much who we targeted our focus on, so it’s an excellent result for us. The film is shaping up incredibly well – we have had reports from cinemas that there were rounds of applause at the end of our live streaming and Q&A session – and I think it really strikes a core with anybody who remembers that fateful night in Turin in 1990. We've had fantastic retail and rental support for the film and we think our marketing campaign across London Underground, TV, national press, online and great PR and press coverage already received give us every chance of hopefully having our own memorable June and July. Come on England!"
Sports of a different kind, comes from Lace. Clint Eastwood's Invictus, the filmed version of the story behind South Africa's historic Rugby World Cup victory in 1995, is on its way to DVD (Warner has slated a June 14 release) and the same date will see Lace releasing the real-life version of events in The Story Of The Rugby World Cup 1995 South Africa. Former Springboks fly-half Joel Stankey, whose exploits helped his team to the trophy on home turf, will be giving interviews to support the release. Lace's Andy Lyon said: " This is a very exciting project for Lace DVD, Invictus has been a huge success at the UK Box Office and looks as though it will go on to be a massive release on DVD. This fantastic documentary will allow sports and film fans alike to see the real events the film was based upon including rare interviews and footage of Nelson Mandela. This release shows exactly what happened during the controversial sports event and will allow consumers to relive one of the most famous rugby world cup finals in history."

For those not interested in sport, there's always stand-up comedy and if you weren't watching any end of season shenanigans, there was always the opportunity to see Lee Mack performing at the HMV Apollo as part of his Going Out tour. This week's event was filmed by Anchor Bay for its autumn DVD release (see last week's newsletter). Our reviewer this week was Blockbuster's Duncan Stripp who said: " For those who only know him from his many TV appearances (Have I Got News For You, Not Going Out etc) his stand up act may come as a bit of a shock. While his humour is a lot more Eric Morecambe than Eddie Izzard, it is littered with expletives which certainly shocked the elderly couple sat in front of me. If you can handle the language however this is a very funny show with a lot more hits than misses, and he throws jokes out at such a rate that if you are left cold by one, you'll be sure to be laughing a few minutes later. Lee Mack proved this week that he will be around for a long time to come, and that's good news for lovers of great stand up."

And now for something completely different. Internet sensation Birdemic: Shock And Terror – said to be among the worst films ever – has caused a storm over the web and, latterly, in the US. And now it's heading to the UK. The no-budget film, directed by first-timer James Nguyen, is fast becoming cult viewing, thanks to its creaky special effects, wooden acting, poor plotting and all manner of other faults – it is, as CBS television in the US noted, "the best worst movie of all time". The title was picked up by Severin Films after helmer Nguyen drove around at Sundance in a customised bus trying to drum up interest. It is currently touring the US, pulling in big audiences and attaining a Rocky Horror-style following. It will follow a similar pattern in the UK, debuting at the Curzon in Soho on May 28 before touring cities and towns ahead of a possible September or autumn DVD release. Severin ceo an co-founder Carl Daft said: "Severin Films has received countless emails and phone calls from fans across the world, demanding that Birdemic: Shock And Terror be brought to their town. We are very happy to announce that the greatest avian-based romantic thriller since THE BIRDS will be getting its proper debut in the UK. Our only concern is… who will survive?" To see it in all its glory, go to the trailer on The Raygun website, here.  

It drew rave reviews after the people behind it released it themselves theatrically and now boxing documentary Sons Of Cuba has been signed for DVD release. The film, from first time director Andrew Lang who was behind its bow at cinemas along with its producers, had a hugely well received brief theatrical release and is now slated to arrive on DVD early in September after it was signed by enterprising record label turned DVD distributor Mr Bongo Films. The label's David Buttle said: "We are very excited to be working with such an inspiring film, it's a great opportunity for us to show we are more than just an arthouse film label and can release some contemporary documentaries as new and vital as Andrew Lang's first feature."  

Next week sees the release of Momentum's epic Norse tale Valhalla Rising and as its marketing kicks off, the company has shared its shocking creatives with us. The 10 second TV spot was initially given a post-11pm watershed rating, before being carefully trimmed to allow it to air after 9pm and thus increase the campaign's scope. Keep an eye out for it during The Lord Of The Rings and elsewhere across terrestrial and digital channels. The 30 second online version, currently at sites such as Metal Hammer, is even more shocking. For more and to see it, check The Raygun website here...  

More product news and after starring at this year's Berlin Film Festival and after already receiving plenty of UK press coverage, Eureka has confirmed its release strategy for the "reconstructed and restored" version of Fitz Lang's classic Metropolis. It features almost 30 minutes' worth of additional footage, lost for more than 80 years but recently discovered on the other side of the world. Eureka will be releasing the title theatrically on September 10 ahead of a DVD and Blu-ray bow on its Masters Of Cinema imprint later in the year. Eureka's Ron Benson said: "We'll be rolling the film out theatrically in London and selected prestige art house cinemas around the country.  We anticipate the restored Metropolis breaking theatrical box-office records for the present-day revival of a silent film. On the home- ideo front, given that the previous version of Metropolis has been one of the best and most consistent sellers among all the titles available on our label, we expect that the Blu-ray and DVD releases of this restoration will, over time, exceed in sales both the former iteration of the release and most of the other titles that we're positioned to market in 2010. All of this speaks to the incredible sense of anticipation around the release (in both cinephile and mainstream/pop-cultural circles) – fostered not only by the film's stature and enduring reputation, but also by the miraculous rediscovery of all the footage considered lost for 80 years. The event of the Metropolis restoration has the quality of a fairy-tale happy-ending."

Stories are circulating that as many as tens of thousands of illegal downloaders are about to be hit with legal action from the producers of The Hurt Locker. Voltage Pictures, the company behind the Oscar and BAFTA-winning film, have joined forces with the US Copyright Group, a pressure group that has already initiated legal action against BitTorrent isers. And now they are said to be readying a lawsuit against scores of people who were involved in the online piracy of the film. The letters, which could ask for a payment to let the matter drop, are set to go out shortly.

In other copyright-related news, Viacom has enlisted the help of a trio of other majors in its ongoing battle against YouTube and Google. Disney. NBC and Warner have all filed documents in support of their contemporary's ongoing battle against the Internet giants for copyright infringement.   

Weirdest piracy news of the week was Russell Crowe's comments made during the promotional rounds for his current blockbuster Robin Hood. If the myhtical hero was alive today, Crowe said, he would be "looking at the dissemination of media as the greatest injustice in the world", taking on the likes of Disney and News Corp. Many observers are taking it to mean that Crowe thinks the Lincoln Green clothed character would be running some kind of BitTorrent site for illegal downloaders... We're saying nothing, as we were once on the wrong end of a Crowe diatribe

News from Japan: DVD an Blu-ray sales fell by almost 10 per cent in the territory in 2009, to $3.5 billion. Rentals also dropped by 1.6 per cent to $685 million. Box office was up almost 6 per cent, to $2.21 billion.

"This is very good news for Netflix, Redbox, Blockbuster and GameStop, in that order." Edward Woo, media analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in LA, discussing the closure of 1,900 Movie Gallery rental stores in the US following the company falling into bankruptcy. Stores are due to shutter from this week.

Icon continues its incredible run with the May 24 release of its latest awards-friendly title, following on from the likes of this week's Nowhere Boy, Precious. Icon is aiming to widen the film's audience beyond the upmarket crowd who saw it on its well-received theatrical release and to a more mainstream audience. This means going after the kind of women who read true stories. "The real conversion will happen with readers of Heat and magazines such as that," said Icon's head of marketing Chris Warrington. So it is targeting these sort of magazines with its campaign; OK, Reveal, Closer and the likes will feature full page ads. The presence of "celeb-friendly" Mariah Carey helps. This will be supported by a major online presence and press ads come release date.

So in a week when the latest Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy comes out on DVD, it was interesting to note that another Beatles biopic is in the works. Curiouser still is the involvement of Fab Four acolyte Liam Gallagher. The Oasis frontman owns the rights to the memoirs of Apple press officer Richard DiLello, who documented life around The Beatles in the latter part of their career. So The Longest Cocktail Party is now being developed by Gallagher alongside Revolution Films, director Michael Winterbottom and producer Andrew Eaton's production company.    

Last week we were musing over Steven Spielberg's planned collaboration with JJ Abrams, but it seems as if Spielio (as he was called by one industry character a few years ago) is going to be busy with that and a whole lot of other projects too. He's just announced his plans for the next year or two and, in addition to the aforementioned Abrams project, he will also be directing an adaptation of The War Horse, the hugely popular book turned stage play. It will be penned by familiar Brit names Lee Hall (Billy Elliott) and the ubiquitous Richard Curtis. It will even land ahead of the already announced The Adventures Of Tintin film (potentially the first in what could be a lengthy and lucrative franchise), The Secret Of The Unicorn. Both are due in 2011, alongside Super 8, his Abrams collaboration (see below).   

Buyers were said to be currently circling the wonderfully titled I'm Still Here: The Lost Year Of Joaquin Phoenix, directed by Casey Affleck. So what's it about? The film follows Phoenix's attempt to become a rapper. So far so relatively normal, but then it starts to get weird, as it features getting up to all kinds of shenanigans, involving lines of white powder, consorting women of, ahem, loose women, trying to blag a record deal and meeting with with stars such as P Diddy and Ben Stiller as his life seemingly begins to fall apart. It is true warts and all and is, at times, truly sad and bizarre, according to reports, as you watch his life "unravelling". The thing is – no one is entirely sure if it's real, or not. Some believe it's a spoof, others, frighteningly given his fragile mental state, believe that Phoenix really has lost it. Whatever, it's attracting interest, mainly because the "is he or isn't he nutso?" debate will attract even more interest on its release...

We've been sat in north London, enviously reading everyone else tweet about Cannes... Total Film and Empire's stuff has been interesting, keep an eye out for former industry trade press hack Matthew Leyland's observations...

It's already been much talked about and, after seemingly leaking out, the trailer for the Spielberg and JJ Abrams collaboration, Super 8, has now been officially released. Like Abrams' Cloverfield, it's not showing its hand just yet...

Megan Fox and a disfigured Josh Brolin make a lovely couple in this DC Comics adaptation.

We had this the other wek, but this is now more detailed trailer. And despite this looking great, we can't help thinking "Doesn't Adrien Brody look a bit cloned?"

Another biggie, another in fuller, newer form. Like wow, man.

For more trailers see our bespoke section within the Raygun website:
Age Of Consent (SPHE)Ah My Goddess Series 2 Part 1 (Manga)
All About Steve (Fox)
American Chopper Series 6 (Demand DVD)
A Bit Of Tom Jones (Tred)
The Boys Are Back (WDSHE)
Broken Lizard’s The Slammin Salmon (Anchor Bay/Starz)
Bunny Lake Is Missing (SPHE)
Casanova (Mr Bongo Films)
Earth (Mr Bongo Films)
Everyman’s War (Metrodome)
Father Brown (SPHE)
Footsteps In the Fog (SPHE)
Give Em Hell Malone (Momentum)
High Lane (Optimum)
Kim Newman’s Guide To The Flipside Of British Cinema (BFI)
The Man Who Would Be King (SPHE)
Ninja Assassin (Warner)
The Party’s Over (BFI Flipside)
Platoon Of The Dead (OMG)
The Pleasure Girls (BFI Flipside)
Racing Through Time Racing Years 1960s (Demand DVD)
The Road (Icon)
Shameless Series 7 (4DVD)
Shameless Series 1-7 (4DVD)
Sherlock Holmes (Warner)
Slayers Try box set (MVM)
Spread (Optimum) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Take A Girl Like You (SPHE)
True Blood Season 2 (HBO)
Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll (EV) (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Slammin Salmon (Anchor Bay)
Starstruck (WDSHE)
Thomas And Friends Classic Collection (HIT)
Valhalla Rising (Momentum)
Whale Wars Season 2 (Demand DVD)
World On A Wire (Second Sight)
The Wrong Box (SPHE)
Zee And Co (SPHE)
American The Bill Hicks Story (Verve)
Eyes Wide Open (Peccadillo)
Lebanon (Metrodome)
Pandora And The Flying Dutchman (Park Circus)
Petropolis (Dogwoof)
Robin Hood (Universal)
Triomf (Contemporary Films)
Vincere (Artificial Eye)

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