NEWSLETTER :: May 6 2010


It Was A Good Week For... Avatar. Simple as that.

It Was A Bad Week For... Anyone who's been to any of the Cannes events, from the festivals to MIP, will have afforded themselves a wry grin at the sight of the seafront venues that were ravaged by storm this week
To BAFTA, where the first Q4 presentation of the season saw WDSHE, aka Disney, unveiling its new look structure, its slate for the final quarter and sharing its thoughts on the state of the nation. Senior vice president and general manager for retail and direct to consumer Julie Sneddon, fresh back from LA, explained the new structure and said: "This is the biggest change I’ve ever seen at Disney and I’ve been 17 years at the company." That change will see one unified retail sales team speaking to retailers to discuss any part of the Disney business. This will have a particular focus on home entertainment, games and consumer products and licensing, enabling retailers to co-ordinate activity, particularly around releases such as Toy Story 3. "One retail team will speak to you about any part of the business," she continued. "And if they can't [deal with it in full], they can introduce you to someone who can." It will prove particularly effective for titles such as Toy Story 3, the central plank of WDSHE's Q4. "From the moment the first trailer comes out," said Sneddon, it would be a case of "how can the Walt Disney Company work better for you." The restructure was, she added, an ongoing project and more would be revealed in the coming months.

Elsewhere, head of WDSHE Anthony Peet said that this Q4 things were coming in threes – 3D, three industry formats and Toy Story 3. Peet reiterated the company's commitment to Blu-ray and said that 3D will help drive BD. "Leveraging technology is key at the heart of Disney, that's why we've been relentless in our support of Blu-ray. 3D is the killer app that silences the naysayers who say DVD is good enough for them. If you want 3D, you have to be behind Blu-ray. We must continue in our efforts to drive Blu-ray." Meanwhile, the magic figure at the presentation was £300 millon – the figure that Disney believes the Toy Story franchise will be worth, with home entertainment at the fulcrum of that figure. It led off a product presentation that included a fully integrated catalogue programme that would leave "a 12 week retail footprint", delivering an estimated £60 million of retail revenue; a renewed focus on TV complete box sets in catalogue promotions; a new addition to the Buddies franchise, The Search For Santa Paws; the 3D release of A Christmas Carol in November; plenty of TV programming, including the final season of Lost alongside Greys Anatomy, Scrubs, Brothers And Sisters, Cougar Town, Flash Forward and Desperate Housewives; a clutch of new Disney Channel titles, including the eagerly awaited Camp Rock 2 (in September); a Blu-ray window for the diamond edition of classic animated title Beauty And The Beast; a new title for young girls in Tinkerbell And The Great Fairy Rescue (December), which is also being theatrically released; a new action feature film in The Sorcerer's Apprentice and, of course, a detailed Toy Story 3 presentation. More will be appearing on our website, in the coming days.

Also on the website this week: a look at post-apocalyptic movies and The Road, a field trip to the hmvcurzon in Wimbledon, some ace trailer action, a before and after look at The World At War as it's readied for Blu-ray release, how to launch your own label by Terracotta, a look at Kaleidoscope's One Night In Turin and lots more. See it here

Also presenting last week, albeit across a much wider range of media, was the BFI. The organisation previewed activity across its BFI Southbank cinemas, the Imax at Waterloo, its theatrical distribution arm and, of course, its DVD range. The latter sees some fascinating releases, taking in tons of rare archive footage, including arguably the first ever wildlife films from the early 1920s (the BFI's National Archive, from which much of the material is culled is celebrating its 75th anniversary, rarely seen films from well known names (think Tony Scott's debut, Loving Memory), more from its wonderful Flipside imprint and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, children's fare including classic Enid Blyton. The BFI's James Blackford said: "This summer sees the BFI continuing in its mission to unravel the hidden history of British cinema through its ever-expanding range of quality editions. Whether it's pioneering wildlife documentaries from the 1920s or a selection of the most exciting, yet little-seen, feature films from the 60s and 70s (including early works from such celebrated filmmakers as Tony Scott), there is a wealth of amazing material which will appeal to a broad range of viewers."

We at The Raygun are big fans of Ken Loach and we are thrilled to see it has unearthed a rarely seen, early Loach outing, Black Jack, for a June 21 release. The film has never been available on DVD and is a real treat for Loach fans. The BFI's Blackford said: "We are hugely excited to be presenting this rare and important film from one of the nation's most cherished directors, and are delighted to announce that Ken Loach has created a definitive director's cut exclusively for our DVD release."
Also on the classic film front, kudos to Optimum for its recent work on The Railway Children. The company is looking to restore and preserve many of the classic films in its massive library, with theatrical re-releases ahead of DVD and, for the first time in most instances, Blu-ray releases, and this was one of its first attempts. The film was given a gala screening at the Bradford Film Festival followed by the theatrical and latterly DVD outings. The sumptuously packaged BD garnered five star reviews and Jenny Agutter herself (The Raygun swoons) supported the new release not only by giving interviews for the package but also for publicity purposes. Other titles due to receive similar treatment include Kind Hearts And Coronets and Peeping Tom. Optimum's Candy Vincent Smith said: "[We hope we are going to] see an uplift in sales on a title that has been available on DVD from ourselves just recently, as it means we can continue to preserve and restore more of these iconic titles from British cinema in future."

Still looking ahead to the rest of the year the stand-up comedy market is really beginning to take shape now (see previous newsletters for more) and this week Anchor Bay has unveiled two major signings for Q4. The ambitious indie has inked deals with both Pub Landlord Al Murray and Lee Mack for this autumn and beyond. The former has signed a lengthy five year deal, with a new release on 2010, the latter will be releasing his second live release through Anchor Bay this autumn. Anchor Bay has become an increasingly big player in this sector and is this year aiming to move into the top three distributors in stand-up terms. The former is, of course, one of comedy's biggest names, while Lee Mack may seem to have been around for some time, but has, in the past year, become an even bigger name – he is expected to sell 300,000 tickets this year for a nationwide tour and his debut stand-up release has sold 150,000 since its 2007 release, with almost half of those coming in 2009, highlighting his growing popularity. Both will release titles through Anchor Bay on November 22 (which is already looking busy in terms of releases). Anchor Bay's Colin Lomax said: "We've gone from a standing start three years ago and we've been rapidly building our comedy roster [starting with Eddie Murphy's Delirious, taking in Pam Ann and a brace of Omid Djalili titles]. This will take us to the next level. Both releases will have massive TV, outdoor and press campaigns behind them an both artists are already lined up for major PR appearances in early December."

 Talking of Anchor Bay, parent Starz and associated companies are also celebrating this week. The company is enjoying a double whammy in sales terms – 10 Minute Solution Blast Off Belly Fat currently tops the fitness chart, showing its increasing dominance in this sector, while last week's Manga release, Evangelion 1.11, has become the company's fastest selling Blu-ray release, notching up sales of some 1,600 units in its first week, enough to project it into the week's top 20 overall BD sellers. Commenting on the fitness success Emma Nicholls said: "Anchor Bay are now serious contenders in the fitness market. 10 Minute Solution goes from strength to strength, the brand has had a sales growth of 377 per cent year on year and we’ve proven that the summer fitness market is alive and kicking." Manga's Jerome Mazandarani said: "We are very pleased with Evangelion 1.11's week one sales, particularly the Blu-ray, which accounted for more than 60 per cent of our sales. Pre-orders were incredibly strong and the momentum is building very well for next year's launch of Evangelion 2.22, which is highly anticipated by the fans. The strong sales success is testament to the evergreen Neon Genesis Evangelion anime brand, our strong festival screening programme and targeted PR and media campaign."

The summer months are the busiest time for Manga and there's loads of activity currently surrounding the imprint. Next up for the label is some high profile screenings at the BFI Southbank for the BFI's bi-annual anime weekend. It will be unveiling its big autumn release, Professor Layton And The Eternal Diva, a filmic take on the bestselling Nintendo game. This follows its recent activity at the Sci-Fi London Film. Manga's Mazandarani said: "We are very excited to be supporting the event and to have some of our films including Evangelion 1.11 and 2.0 in the programme. We are also very excited to be premiering Professor Layton And The Eternal Diva. This is a huge priority for Manga and I am looking forward to releasing it in the autumn."

Manga is of course, a major supporter of the London MCM Expo, and this year's event is coming together. For the uninitiated, it is the movies/comics and Manga event (hence MCM) that sees all manner of films, anime, games and other product being pushed to hordes of predominantly teenagers and 20 somethings, many of whom dress up as characters (known as cosplay). It takes place on May 29-30 at London's Excel Centre. Sponsors and exhibitors this year include Fox, Universal and the aforementioned Starz/Anchor Bay, as well as Manga and MVM on the anime side, with more to follow. Stars attending will include talent from the likes of Caprica, JJ Abrams' Fringe, Sanctuary and more. One of the highlights will be a panel looking at the eagerly awaited Ultramarines, the film based on Games Workshops' Warhammer 40,000 universe.

Speaking of events, this weekend sees the second annual Terracotta Far East Film Festival, launched by the fledgling Asian label to promote its own and other like-minded films from the likes of Icon among others. Label and festival founder Joey Leung talks about it here on The Raygun website, for more information see

Last week she was inadvertently thrust to the centre of the election campaign after her character – or at least an out of work actor dressed in a hot, sweaty costume – was prevented from appearing on the stump with Labour politicians lest she appear too partisan, and this week Peppa Pig is in the news again. This time, E1's Jon Bourdillon has presented creators Neville Astley, Mark Baker an Phil Davies with a gold disc to mark sales of E1's Peppa DVDs passing the 3 million mark. That milestone was passed not long after the 12th release, The Fire Engine And Other Stories, came out at the end of March. Bourdillon said: "It's a testament to Peppa Pig's popularity and the quality of the series that children who watch the show on television enjoy the episodes so much that they want to re-watch them again and again on DVD. Peppa is truly the star of E1's growing kids programming division and we will continue to focus our efforts on maintaining Peppa's dominance in the kids DVD chart and promoting the back catalogue."

It's not often that you can boast of an archbishop turning up to your screening, but that's just what Dogwoof was able to do after it organised a special preview of its Oscar and BAFTA-nominated documentary Mugabe And The White African for the Archbishop of York. The senior churchman attended and took part in a Q&A afterwards for the film, due out on DVD on Monday (May 10) following its critically acclaimed theatrical release. The film follows the plight of a family of deeply religious white farmers hounded by Robert Mugabe's despotic regime in Zimbabwe. As well as earning plaudits from the critics, the film has won fans among church-goers too for the family's strong faith even in the face of extreme adversity.

This week sees the publication of the annual BVA Yearbook, which includes comprehensive data on our industry and, for the first time this year, takes in digital data as well physical sales, breaking them down by platform (electronic sell through and video on demand). Former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson penned the foreword, saying: "Underlying the entire industry is the resilient demand for video entertainment in all its forms – via sell through DVD, rental, online, broadcast, and in cinemas. The public's appetite for long-form drama and comedy remains undimmed." BVA director general Lavinia Carey said: "The British Video Association is delighted to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a new look to our Yearbook. Our commitment to champion existing and new ways that people can enjoy video content is at the forefront of our work and our consumer research.' The handbook is available from the BVA's website,

Universal Pictures has announced a DVD release date for the much-talked about Cherrybomb, a film that had found a vast audience and scores of fans on the Internet long before anyone had even seen it. The fans campaigned for the film, which features Harry Potter star Rupert Grint in his first "grown-up" role, to be picked up after production had been completed and, after a successful theatrical release, the title is due on DVD on August 23. Universal's Tania Peres said: "Cherrybomb is very much the movie equivalent of Skins and that is how we will be positioning it.  It is edgy, cool and deals with issue and themes that are really relevant to today's young adult audience. We've had a phenomenal online reaction from fans at theatrical and we will continue to build this awareness with a robust online and social networking campaign right up to the DVD release. We have managed to secure talent support for the DVD release so expect to see lots of fan driven events and content. We will be supporting the release with a heavyweight PR campaign with broadcast appearances already secured for release, a targeted online and press campaign targeting our core
demographic through teen, female and entertainment media channels."

Quite a few changes on the jobs front recently with a number of appointments and departures. 4DVD has appointed Jess Scott to the role of product manager to work across some of its key brands, including the ever-wonderful Inbetweeners and stand-up titles such as Jimmy Carr's new outing, Making People Laugh. She was most recently at Paramount Home Entertainment as brand manager, working on TV, new release and catalogue titles. 4DVD's David Root said: "I'm delighted that 4DVD has once again been able to attract the best talent in the industry. Jess brings a wealth of experience to the team and her appointment underlines our commitment to providing artists and producers with the hands-on attention that is key to developing successful DVD product." Scott added: "4DVD is a well respected brand where I have the opportunity to enjoy a fully integrated role working very closely with all departments from acquisitions and marketing to talent management. The productions we deliver are cherry picked for their quality and this combined with a strong reputation for taking care of both artists and producers means I am able to be involved in the entire process." Meanwhile, over at LOVEFiLM, Simon Waldman has been appointed as grou[p product director. He previously worked at Guardian Media Group and had been group director of digital strategy there, working across its platforms. LOVEFiLM chief executive Simon Calver said: " Simon is truly an expert at harnessing the power of a destination website. To date LOVEFiLM customers have generated 80 million ratings and 843 thousand member reviews, and they continue to generate some 2 million trailer views a month, making a major online community for film and TV entertainment. Simon will be instrumental in taking the core product,, to the next level making it the pre-eminent European film and TV portal." And finally experienced publicist Christelle Randall has left Metrodome to pursue other opportunities in the entertainment sector and is set to open her own PR agency. 

It's one of our favourite films of the past 12 months and next week Nowhere Boy, the directorial debut of artist Sam Taylor Wood arrives on DVD an Blu-ray following its hugely successful theatrical run, which drew in more than £1.25 million in UK box office receipts. Buoyed by TV spots which are going after the often male music fans, with a slightly older bent, the campaign is aiming to capitalise on the publicity and positive buzz surrounding the film. Press ads will be appearing on the day of release alongside music magazines and Icon has also put together promotional activity with Merc Clothing and Richer Sounds. And director Sam Taylor Wood is putting her weight behind it, appearing on radio and, next week, Later With Jools Holland.  
Somewhat predictably given its impressive marketing support and event status, Iron Man 2, the first summer blockbuster, stormed to the top of the UK box office charts, with some £7.66 million in receipts. The only other new entry was The Last Song, which drew £679,698 on its bow.

Most intriguing news of the week concerns the possible collaboration between Hollywood's most successful director and multi-hyphenate Steven Spielberg and new kid in the block JJ Abrams. The former needs no introduction, while the latter, thanks to the ongoing success of Lost, among other things, is no slouch when it comes to making credible, commercial fare either. The two are now said to be working together, with Spielberg reportedly working in some capacity with Abrams on a project that will, effectively, be a homage to Spielberg's early works, such as Jaws. Like Abrams' Cloverfield, the film is shrouded in secrecy, little more is known by way of script or even title. If the film does arrive – filming could be starting this autumn for a release next year – expect this modestly budgeted effort (a la Cloverfield) to land at Paramount.

Also at Paramount, the studio was this week understood to have won a fierce bidding war to release the next Sacha Baron Cohen film. And how did it manage to succeed where five others failed? Well, as rumour has it, it was all down to a couple of goats. Ås the bidding war for the film, which follows a goat-herder and a deposed foreign president in the US (honest) and is being described as akin to Eddie Murphy pics such as Coming To America and Trading Places, entered its final stages, Paramount was said to have sent a goat to Cohen and his agents' offices, complete with handler and Paramount branding, to persuade them that this studio was right for them. It may too have had something to the money being offered to Cohen and his collaborators, a trio of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm veterans – reports suggest they will rake in the dough if the film performs. And given its track record, it should.

Quick diary date: July 20. Not this year or even next – but 2012. That's the scheduled release date for the next Batman film. There's no full title yet (Batman 3 is its current moniker), although Christopher Nolan is once again attached. The weekend is the same that hosted the last, record-breaking outing, so, as Warner must be thinking, if it ain't broke and all that... We'll see you in the queue.
Well, come on, as well as our own tweets and those of our pals, all we've been doing is looking at the election. Oh and a couple of industry related ones from Icon – – and Manga –  

WDSHE's Q4 event was as good as ever – we stayed out far later than we should have in the bar of BAFTA with assorted retailers and staffers from the Mouse House. Boy did we feel it on the plane for a weekend break the next day...


What started off as a spook trailer between the two Grindhouse films becomes a reality, courtesy of Roberto Rodriguez and the wonderful Danny Trejo:

The Internet explodes as the second trailer appears:

Saturday Night Live-related fare, notable also due to Val Kilmer's ever-increasing size.

With a title like Death And Cremation, it as hardly going to be abundle of laughs, was it:
44 Inch Chest (Momentum) (DVD and Blu-ray)
The Abducted (Lionsgate)
Adoration (Drakes Avenue)
Agatha Christie Hour box set (Fremantle)
The Ape (ICA Films)
An Audience With Ken Dodd (ITV Studios)
Autumn (Brightspark Productions)
The Babysitters (High Fliers)
Battlestar Galactica The Plan (Universal Playback) (DVD and Blu-ray0
The Bellydance Series (Acacia)
Boot Camp (High Fliers)
Caligula The Blu Edition (Arrow) (Blu-ray)
Callan: The Colour Years (Network)
The City Season 1 (Paramount)
Dear John Series 1 (Acorn)
Diamonds Of the Night (Seconrun)
Doctor Zhivago (Warner) (Blu-ray)
Dorothy (Optimum) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Eric Rohmer Moral Tales (Artificial Eye)
The Essential Eric Rohmer (Artificial Eye)
Exhale Core Fusion (Acacia)
The Final Storm (Scanbox)
The F Word (IMC)
The Great Dictator (Park Circus) (Blu-ray)
Grown-Ups Series 2 (2 entertain)
Hannah Montana Season 3 Part 1 (WDSHE)
Harpoon: The Reykjavik Whaling Watching Massacre (E1)
Harry And His Bucketful Of Dinosaurs (Abbey)
History Of Football: The Beautiful Game (Fremantle)
Horrible Histories Series 1 (2 entertain)
How I Met Your Mother Season 3 (Fox)
It’s Complicated (Universal) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Joanna Lumley’s Nile (2 entertain)
John Morrison Rock Star (Clear Vision)
The Kid (Prk Circus (Blu-ray)
Largo Winch (Optimum)
Lockjaw (Metrodome)
Machan (Yume Pictures)
Margaret (2 entertain)
Margaret Thatcher The Long Walk To Finchley/Margaret (2 entertain)
Midsomer Murders box (Acorn)
Mugabe And The White African (Dogwoof) (DVD)
Mutants (Momentum)
Nowhere Boy (Icon) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Ouran High School Host Club Complete Series (Manga)
Phobia (Icon)
Rendezvous In Paris (Artificial Eye)
Robin Hood Beyond Sherwood Forest (Anchor Bay)
Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors (Artificial Eye)
South Park The Hits Volume 1 (Paramount)
Story Of St Kilda (Demand DVD)
Story Of Tweed (Demand DVD)
Tchaikovsky Uncovered (Demand DVD)
Toy Story.Toy Story 2 (WDSHE)
Two Evil Eyes (Arrow)
The Unloved (ICA Films)
The Upper Hand: The Complete Second Series (Network)
Where The Wild Things Are (Warner) (DVD and Blu-ray)
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)
The Back Up Plan (Sony)
Cameraman: The Life And Work Of Jack Cardiff (Optimum)
Four Lions (Optimum)
Furry Vengeance (E1)
Hot Tub Time Machine (Fox)
Just For The Record (Metrodome)
A Nightmare On Elm Street (Warner)
One Night In Turin (May 11) (Kaleidoscope)
Psych 9 (Galaxy)
Room And A Half (Yume Pictures)
Sus (Independent)
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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