NEWSLETTER :: December 10 2010
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It was a good week for… Promotional stunts, as our industry spent Monday pulling all sorts of interesting activity to help push new releases (see below)

It's been a bad week for… the snow and bad weather continued to play havoc with the trade, keeping shoppers at home, holding up deliveries and other similar problems… And HMV, which received a somewhat harsh mauling from the press over its trading figures

Fastest out of the blocks in the big release week was The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which notched up some 450,000 units on its first day of release, one of the series' most impressive outings thus far. And in a week filled with promotional stunts, eOne kicked things off with a pack of wolves (no, honestly) delivering the first copies (it says here, and who are we to argue) to HMV Trocadero. The wolves had been specially trained for the event and trekked five (yes, five) miles to get to their destination, through London landmarks and, of course, letting scores of commuters and the likes know about the release. eOne's Martin Gough said: "We decided to use wolves to bring the film into London due to their instinct to protect and defend. The film is set to be one of this year's biggest releases so what better way to ensure the safe delivery of the DVDs into the UK. After all who, besides a vampire, would take on a wolf?" Check our website for the photographic evidence (one of a number of promotional stories we've got up there).  

It might be the last Shrek film ever, but this week's release of Shrek Forever After has seen something of a first at Sainsbury's. For the first time in its 141-year history, the supermarket giant has changed its instantly recognisable logo, replacing its own iconic "S" with the same letter from Shrek's logo, with the green ears on top. It was all part of Sainsbury's big push for the DreamWorks/Paramount title. As well as changing the logo outside key stores around the country, it was also altered on Sainsbury's new entertainment website. There was a wealth of in-store activity, including face painting, staff dressing up as characters from the film and loads of exciting point of sale. Sainsbury's had also pushed the title, which it offered for £8 for the standard version, through press advertising, which joined Paramount's TV and press advertising. Sainsbury's non-food md Luke Jensen said: "Changing our logo was not without hurdles but we’re delighted to mark Shrek’s arrival by trying something green today, and for the rest of the week." Executives from the UK and US were among those who visited the stores, Dreamworks' worldwide head of franchise strategy and distribution Kelley Avery said: "We are delighted that Sainsbury’s is using its iconic logo to mark the huge celebrations taking place worldwide of our much loved Ogre. We wanted the Shrek Forever After DVD launch to reflect the excitement coming off of its hugely successful run at the worldwide box office. Shrek fans always line up from very early in the morning to get their hands on a copy of the DVD and we wanted to give them a nice surprise as they arrive at stores this week." For more pictures, see our website.

Also on our website, more from one of the week's other big releases, Inception, with a great youtube clip of a stunt dreamed up by Warner to promote the blockbuster, which has, according to the major, also started brightly. The stunt saw a magician attempting a world record attempt to spin as many tops as possible. Did he manage? Check here for more… While he was spinning, there were a group of competition winners from the Levels Of Inception promotion (run through the likes of running around the Limbo maze in Longleat with a top prize of a round the world trip. They were part of an impressive launch that included outdoor at rail stations and London Underground (including a digital countdown clock), ubiquitous TV and radio spots and high profile takeover of youtube. For more of the PR highlights too, see the story online.

And also at more My Inspiration contributions from the industry, our weekly round-up of the weekend's press coverage and loads more. Click here.

Keep an eye out for Lee Mack over the next seven days, as the stand-up comic – currently one of the success stories of this year's live crop of live comedy DVDs – is set to appear on next week's Royal Variety show on TV. The comic will receive a boost from the high profile appearance, and will further be aided by ongoing marketing from Anchor Bay. As the company's Thom Leaman noted: "In a topsy turvy gifting season that's faltered its way through snow storms, we at Anchor Bay have been really pleased with sales on Lee Mack: Going Out Live - it's on course to be not only Anchor Bay's biggest ever comedy DVD release but one of the top selling comedy releases of the year. We can't forget also the venerable Al Murray - whose Barrel of Fun DVD is also really picking up the pace saleswise as we get closer to Christmas. But we're not sitting on our laurels, we've got a weighty TV plan ongoing for both our comedy acts, more press ads going out in the vital gifting weeks a head, our fleet of Lee Mack and Al Murray branded buses across the country, and some great PR breaks still to come."

News from HMV, which has just published its annual figures and seen its share price take a hit as a result. "Weak entertainment markets" were the cause of the 16.1 per cent decline in like-for-like sales (15.3 per cent overall) across HMV UK and Ireland stores in the six months to the end of October; in the DVD sector strong competition from supermarkets was blamed for the problem. Visual media was the least drastic decline, with games being singled out as the worst area, due to the lack of hardware or software. And the recent bad weather could affect the next six months, the company said, although it was hopeful for Q4 thanks to the likes of Toy Story 3. Ceo Simon Fox said: "The increased seasonal loss reflects the tough trading conditions in HMV UK, where good progress in growing new product categories was not sufficient to offset weak entertainment markets. In Waterstone's, the recovery plan is on track, and in all businesses we are very well prepared for the important weeks ahead, with a strong line-up of offers across all product categories and a focus on delivering high quality service both in-store and online." The announcement caused HMV shares to slide and a lot of hand-wringing from analysts in the media, similar to the flak it received a few years ago in the era before current ceo Simon Fox. Some of the crowing about the end of retail seems a tad premature, as does writing someone off ahead of the busiest trading time of the year. Let's see what happens in the run-up to Christmas…

How journalism works, part 365: The Guardian (which, incidentally, along with its partners, has some interesting tax measures of its own) is continuing to seemingly criticise our business. After last week's "DVD slump" story, it had it in for any retailers doing business from the Channel Islands this week. Once again, it used emotive language (accusing, for example, HMV's operation of being "tucked down a tiny, unsignposted track" (ignoring that it was a sorting office acquired by the company for its facilities). Wisely, none of the companies mentioned, taking in most of the grocers, online retailers and other companies, chose to talk to the newspaper, which once again may have decided its angle, before it started. For example, it chose not to look aT TV boxsets, surely one of online retail's big growth areas, most of which is priced above the £18 threshold. Let's face facts, until the government does anything to change policy, then nothing is going to change, despite one journalist filing most of his copy about offshore fulfilment or low value consignment relief (LVCR).

How journalism works (again): More from poor old HMV, which has had an undeserved proverbial kicking off the press this week. This time it was the Sunday Telegraph, assembling a piece about different prices charged in different parts of the country for the same goods. It highlighted HMV and TV boxsets, choosing to ignore the fact that some of the stores visited still had stock from promotional activity, while others had sold through, nor, for that matter, was it clear if it could distinguish between different seasons or complete series boxes. Never, as the old saying goes, let the facts get in the way of a story…  

Interesting news from the theatrical world, as Curzon Artificial Eye has announced plans for its Curzon On Demand service. The offering kicks off this week and is being effectively viewed as another cinema in the Curzon chain, with its own programming, as well as exclusive offerings and special events. The site is here, this Friday (today) sees the launch of two titles day and date with their theatrical release, On Tour and In Our Name. The move follows last week's LOVEFiLM and Momentum announcement of their strategy for Catfish, and once again sees the independent sector starting to innovate in its release strategies and ways it is exploring how to bring films to the consumer. Curzon Artificial Eye chief executive Philip Knatchbull said: "With Curzon On Demand we are now able to offer film lovers their own cinema experience at home, or wherever they like - they can watch films at the same time they’re released in the cinemas.  It’s a totally new service that has never been provided before by a UK cinema operator, and we can use the technology to provide our audiences with a whole range of benefits – films programmed specifically for the site, private screenings and premieres, as well as special events with actors and directors – this really is an exciting opportunity for us to continue to be at the centre of bringing independent film to the widest possible audience by use of the latest technology."

Another company investigating different online options is Revolver, which has consistently innovated in this sector. Its latest plan will see Myspace hosting the world's first ever online commercial film premiere on a social media platform for theatrical release Chatroom next week. The event has been put together by Revolver and agency MarketME and will be available for the first 200 fans to visit on December 13. MarketME's head of digital marketing Angelique Schierz-Crusius said: " Within entertainment we are expected to embrace innovation and create fun, engaging online events for films.  Revolver, Myspace and Livestream are the perfect partners within the industry to partner with as we approach this milestone of streaming an entire feature film online." Revolver's Andrew Woodyatt added: "This is a hugely exciting partnership, Revolver is always looking for ground breaking ways to promote our films utilising the latest available technology, and this online streaming premiere fits the social networking message of Chatroom perfectly." See the trailer here.

Big news from ever-growing independent Kaleidoscope, which is ramping up its slate for next year. In one of its biggest deals thus far, the label has acquired worldwide rights for Lord Of The Dance 3D, the return of Michael Flatley. The dancer's sold out London and Dublin shows were filmed by no less than 40 3D cameras. Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment will release 2D versions in the UK in the second quarter of 2011, with its first full 3D Blu-ray later in the year. These will follow a 3D theatrical release on St Patrick's Day. Sister company Kaleidoscope Film Distribution will be handling worldwide distribution and licensing rights too. Flatley is video gold – the original Lord Of The Dance sold 1.7 million units in the UK alone. Kaleidoscope's Spencer Pollard said: "Lord Of The Dance is a global brand. Michael Flatley has been dazzling millions of people for the last decade. The global distribution potential of this title should help grow Kaleidoscope’s business both in the UK and internationally over the next 12 months and beyond. We are finalising our global distribution partners for this project and other titles, which we shall announce shortly." On the UK release, new marketing director Adam Sergeant added: "Lord of the Dance is a huge brand with a phenomenal track record. It is a uniquely magical, electrifying and highly creative show. We are looking forward to making it the must-have special interest title for 2011."

At the opposite end of the spectrum from Flatley, Kaleidoscope has also inked a deal that will see it releasing Ride, Rise, Roar, a live concert film from former Talking Head David Byrne. And it will be putting its full weight behind the release, with a major theatrical launch that will include a live Q&A with the singer, which will also be beamed around 50 cinemas nationwide. The event, at the Brixton Ritzy, organised in conjunction with Arts Alliance Media, will launch the release, with a DVD and Blu-ray to follow later in the year (September has been pencilled in) and a further 3D Blu-ray beyond that. The film documents Byrne's most recent tour and was shot on multiple cameras at different dates and features behind the scenes footage, rehearsals and other elements. Byrne's Talking Heads, of course, were behind what is acknowledged as one of the finest live concert films ever, Stop Making Sense; The Raygun witnessed Byrne's live shows and is positively salivating about the impending release… Kaleidoscope's Pollard said: "David is coming to the UK to support the theatrical release. We plan a heavyweight PR campaign supported with media spend and the theatrical event where the film is played nationwide followed by a live 'in conversation with' David Byrne will be a must for all fans. Ride, Rise, Roar is an excellent film with critical praise already from South By Southwest.   It should be our biggest box office release to date and we plan to roll the film out following the live event." See you down the front…

More on Catfish and release plans for the Momentum title. We announced the multi-tiered plan, taking in theatrical, video on demand, rental and retail, last week and Momentum has now unveiled some of its marketing strategy. The campaign kicks off from December 10, with what Momentum said will be "event-style marketing", with outdoor, including London underground LCD panels, and online running right through the various stages of its release, supporting all the different aspects. Sites included will be Channel 4, Gorilla Nation, The Guardian, Facebook, You Tube and MSN Messenger. Press advertising will appear in the Guardian Guide, Evening Standard, Shortlist and the Metro. Momentum's Clare Dundrow said: "PR has been phenomenal for this release too which will carry on right through to DVD -  Catfish is certainly capturing the imagination of everyone."

Some interesting research from the BVA, which has been looking into how best to explain the multi-format versions of films in one package – DVD, Blu-ray and digital copy – to consumers. Its findings reveal that the Double Play and Triple Play definitions and an on-pack explanatory sticker are the best method not only to help punters understand the offering, but also to help them feel they are getting real value for money. The BVA is aiming to make this formula the industry standard and is making templates available for all distributors and labels. The BVA's Blu-ray Partners campaign director Simon Heller said: "This research has provided us with a great insight into what multi-format packaging should look like.  he consumer needs to have utmost clarity when making a purchase and the BVA’s findings will help distributors to produce the most effective packaging as part of the marketing mix. With video content coming on to the market in an ever more diverse range of formats, from physical to digital, it’s increasingly important for the industry to help consumers find their way." For more information and talk about the templates, call Simon Heller at the BVA or email
Independent anime specialist MVM is continuing to widen its scope, spreading its wings beyond its Japanese animation roots after signing up a couple of new titles for release in 2011, the pair blend some classic martial arts names with a newer generation of action heroes. Wushu is billed as being presented Jackie Chan and stars his old spar Sammo Hung alongside Liu Fenchao and Wang Wenjie, both rising martial arts stars and being tipped as future icons in the mould of Chan and Hung. Gallants offers up some more hugely popular Kung Fu names such as old Shaw Bros stars Bruce Leung, Chen Kuan-Tai and Teddy Robin Kwan. The former is due in April, the latter in June. MVM has already moved into live action Japanese cinema, with titles such as 252: Sign Of Life (January), a live action take on Japanese comic Death Notice: Ikigami (March) and bug budget Pandemic (May). MVM's Tony Allen said: "After more than 15 years promoting anime in the UK it was time spread our wings. The natural step was a sideways move into Asian cinema which we expected to perform about the same as anime. When our release of Sinking Of Japan shipped equivalent of more than half a year's anime it was an eye opener to say the least and our first title ever to hit supermarket shelves. A similar move into US-produced horror gave equivalent results with Backwoods Bloodbath. By now the writing was on the wall and we have not looked back since. MVM will not ditch anime and has already acquired some new titles for 2011 and relicensed many old favourites. But going forward we will be building a far more diverse catalogue."

Not a lot to say about this, but we picked this up on Twitter and it tickled us. User comment of the week:

Bad news of the week: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows is going to be the most pirated gift of the Christmas season, according to a survey by Microsoft. And, worringly, almost 70 per cent of those asked said they were considering buying snide goods to save money. Perhaps less of a surprise was the fact that men were 20 per cent more likely to buy counterfeit films, music, games and software. Microsoft's own Windows 7 software, and the company believes that some counterfeiters were even raising prices to try and convince punters their wares were genuine.


The Raygun was lucky enough to attend the premiere of Tron: Legacy at the weekend, and we were wowed by the state of the art special effects and truly game-changing 3D. Last night saw us celebrating Christmas with Elevation Sales and its assorted labels and various industry types, while all around the venue, somewhere between Piccadilly and Regent Street, students were running amok…

"We’ve raised a generation that feels everything should be free. No business model we create can compete with 'free'." DGA president Taylor Hackford at an anti-piracy conference in the US.

We've eulogised about Momentum's strategy for its Girl films, or rather the Millennium Trilogy, and if you head to our website you can see a fantastic image of its theatrical DVD poster that includes mention of its DVDs) but, with the January 10 release date for The Girl Who Played With Fire on the way, we thought it warranted a closer look at some of its plans. Here's Momentum's Kristin Ryan, outlining its plans. "Our marketing campaign for The Girl Who Played With Fire continues the strategy to activate the dedicated fans of the books and then hit the mainstream action film fan via National TV advertising including Channel 4, ITV, Five and Sky, press ads in both broadsheets and weeklies, online activity with various sites including Facebook, MSN and Guardian, as well hitting our London/South East bias with an outdoor campaign on London Underground and National Rail commuter stations."

Megamind couldn't dislodge Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows from its position atop the UK box office chart. The former took almost £2.83 million on its debut, but Potter's £3.8 million earnings were enough to keep it at number one, it has now taken almost £40 million. Monsters took almost £350,000, not bad for a film that cost a lot less to make… The Warrior's Way was the other new entry in the top 10 with a shade over £100,000 in receipts.
Sometimes we stumble across stories and think "surely this must be some kind of hoax?" And that's just how we felt when we read the story that children's TV series Rentaghost (for younger industry types, ask your parents) is being turned into a film. Weirder still, the role of Fred Mumford, the man who dies before his time but ends up working with a group of spooks for hire, is set to be taken by Russell Brand. Warner will be releasing it and is said to be planning to turn it into a Beetlejuice-style romp. No news yet on who'll play Mr Claypole or McWitch. (That is a sentence we thought we'd never write…)  

Good news of the week: We love Will Ferrell. We love Zach Galifianakis. So the news that they are teaming up with comedy director Jay Roach for a film which focuses on politics was warmly welcomed by us. The dup will play rival presidential candidates and the release is being timed to coincide with the 2012 US elections. Its writers wil include Shawn Harwell, who includes the excellent HBO series Eastbound & Down among his credits. Warner has won the bidding war to release the film.  

Wikileaks news of the week: we've been poring over the US embassy cables on Wikileaks and all over the place looking for entertainment-related news, and, by George, we found one. Films such as Michael Clayton and TV programmes Friends and Desperate Housewives are, according to US officials, as useful in pushing US ideals and messages to citizens in Saud Arabia as any form of propaganda. The programmes and films are screened illegally in the states such as Saudi, and are said to be useful in putting forward the inherent values of the American way of life. Michael Clayton, for example, in showing "heroic honesty in the face of corruption". Those lucky Saudis obviously don't have to watch some of the rubbish foisted on us. That'd soon put you off Hollywood, we can tell you.  

So, all those posters and other ephemera we have isn't junk, it's a future collectable. For those that have a few minutes to spare, have a look through this catalogue of old film (and music) memorabilia up for auction at Bonhams.

Christmas giveaways galore at the minute: were this week giving away every DVD they'd released this year and we also liked Universal imprint indi VISION's 12 days of Christmas giveaway which has just kicked off Follow us on   

There's a good buzz about this, according to those in the know, as Mel aims for rehabilitation on and off screen:

More alien invasion gear:

We've been watching this week, Showbox's Cine Asia imprint has it for UK release early in 2011:

Aaah, so that's what it's all about, following the teaser, here's Fox's next animated blockbuster:

Despicable Me is out on DVD in the US next week, here's a look at some of its extra content from the double disc and BD edition:

And from the creators of Despicable Me, here's a trailer that may not show too much, but, boy, does it look fun:
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