ENGLAND VS SLOVENIA, WHERE WERE YOU?
BUDGET BLU-RAY BOOM?
THIS WEEK ON THE RAYGUN.CO.UK
AMERICA'S GLOBAL WAR ON PIRACY
FACT SMASHES UK FACTORY
ICON SWITCHES ON TO TV...
...AND BD STRATEGY PAYS OFFMANGA GOES LIVE
ZOMBIE QUEEN LIVES...
LOVEFILM INKS WARNER DEAL
FOUNDER EXITS OPTIMUM
QUOTE OF THE WEEK (IF NOT THE YEAR)
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
AT THE MOVIES
TWEET OF THE WEEK
SITE OF THE WEEK
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
COMING SOON ON DVD AND AT CINEMAS
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It Was A Good Week For... Er, England? Not for many others. Although Lionsgate celebrated a number one at the UK box office, and Kaleidoscope sees its One Night In Turin keep on selling...
It Was A Bad Week For... Did anyone see how empty the streets were yesterday? The perfect storm of nice weather and football is upon us...
3pm, Wednesday afternoon: where you you? The industry, it appears, logged off for at least part of the afternoon, to allow staff to watch England's at times tortuous progress to the next round of the World Cup, where, of course, they will face Germany on Sunday afternoon. So where did the industry hang out? Some timed it to coincide with other events – Momentum, for example, held its annual staff summer party at The Hospital in Covent Garden and thus got to double up with watching England; similarly, Spirit chief Robert Callow took his team down to Soho House to view the proceedings, partly to thank them for their hard work while he was off celebrating his recent nuptials. As Callow said: "Office phones were diverted to mobiles but not one call was received. Everyone was also on Blackberry watch throughout the game but very few emails were received either." Some decamped to boardrooms or meeting rooms. Acorn's Paul Holland said: "At Acorn Towers the team gathered in the boardroom with beer and crisps. Everyone works really hard and it's good for morale. Then later we all gathered back in the boardroom at 8pm for Inspector Lynley on BBC1 to immerse ourselves in the brand prior to the release of the series complete box set."
And then, of course, there was always the pub. Kaleidoscope chief Spencer Pollard said: "We watched the football in The Green Man on Berwick Street – and it was a true One Night In Turin affair with the Kaleidoscope team joined the Organic Marketing team who did a great job on the film’s PR campaign and the Arts Alliance Media team who handled the theatrical release for the film. We all shared the joy of the result – topped off with the news later that evening that next up are Germany – the first time we have met them in the World Cup since that fateful night in 1990 in Turin." That re-run of the night 20 years ago could prove to be a further fillip for Kaleidoscope's One Night In Turn, which has already sold more than 20,000 units in its first three weeks of release... Spencer Pollard added: "Hopefully it will provide a nice shot in the arm for the title."
One of our favourite stories involved an executive trapped in an important meeting with senior management, who strained to listen through the wall to a broadcast from a TV in the office next door. But best of the lot, however, concerns one industry person who snuck away from their desk to watch the game on the sly yesterday afternoon, thinking they'd executed the perfect plan... only to see their picture splashed in press coverage the next day, sat in a hostelry with other England supporters. We will continue to protect their identity to save them further problems, however...
This week on The Raygun website, we've had an update on Revolver's zombies (to be seen to be believed), had a report on the weekend's DVD-related press coverage (as part of an ongoing new feature) and more, with new features up regularly and more to come this week alone. Bookmark it now...
Meanwhile, in the middle of this whole World Cup mularkey, there was the trifling matter of a budget, an emergency one no less, as the new coalition government set out its stall for the next five years. Unsurprisingly, there was a VAT hike, with the tax going up from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent. The rise will not happen until January, which could, in many ways, benefit our industry. How? Well, it means that it won't impinge on Q4, there's plenty of time to prepare and, furthermore, it could give consumers a few months to stock up on high ticket items, such as high definition home entertainment sets, taking in televisions and, of course, Blu-ray players, increasing penetration and potentially leading to an uptick in sales for the format. On a more practical note, retailers were this week investigating how the change will affect prices. On a £10 (or £9.99) title, the rise adds around 2o pence to the price. But will selling prices stick at a convenient pound of 99 pence price point, with retailers either taking the hit or adding a full pound to what they sell titles for? Or will "odd" prices become the norm? An HMV spokesperson this week gave a guarded response, saying: "At least this time retailers will have more time to prepare and consider how to implement this change, although having such a quick turnaround after Christmas may still pose a bit of a challenge, as will trying to keep regular and rounded price points that customers have become used to. Obviously, you can't be sure how the public will respond to the increase, which for low-ticket items may not be viewed as being that substantial. However, past experience suggests there could be a bit of a last-minute rush to beat the deadline, and it will be interesting to see if that happens on this occasion, coinciding, as it will, with the busiest time in the trading calendar."
Just as this week's budget included nothing for the film, DVD or even games industries – the coalition government has dropped a Labour scheme to offer tax breaks to the games industry and the proposal to merge the BFI and the Film Council has also been shelved – it appears as if the US government is taking the matter of piracy extremely seriously. Vice-president Joe Biden this week unveiled plans to create an anti-piracy task force to tackle the threat across film, music and even book markets. Aimed at dealing with the problem both at home and overseas, it will co-ordinate authorities and efforts in the US and abroad, targeting pirates as far afield as China. The newly-appointed Intellectual Property Enforcement Co-ordinator (a first in the US), Victoria Espinel, published a report that suggested that film and video piracy cost the US some $25 billion annually. The move was welcomed by the major film studios. Its efforts are admirable, but let's just hope it's more successful than the US government's war on drugs and terror... You can read the full report here, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/intellectualproperty/intellectualproperty_strategic_plan.pdf, and while some of it is couched in the language of Washington DC, the cover page alone made us feel like Jack Bauer reading a secret report.
Speaking of piracy, there was a flurry of activity this week as police, in conjunction with Federation Against Copyright Theft officers, made a number of raids and arrests, swooping on what officers believe was a major illegal DVD operation including a factory. One man was arrested at a printing premises in North London, where a whopping 1.4 million printed sleeves, and 10,000 DVDs, were seized. FACT officers said the haul had an estimated street value of £2.5 million. A simultaneous raid on a home saw burning trays capable of producing 70,000 pirated DVDs a week seized. Two further arrests have been made. FACT director general Kieron Sharp said: "City of London Police and FACT are working closely together to identify those organised criminal gangs which control the illegal trade in counterfeit DVDs. This involves the whole supply chain, from the 'burning' of the DVDs to the printing of the artwork that goes in the packaging and the subsequent sale on the streets of London and other parts of the UK and then identifying the criminal profits and seizing them."
Right, on from politics and piracy to another P word, product. Thriving independent Icon is moving into the television sector with the August 23 release of Leverage. The programme, starring Timothy Hutton as a former insurance investigator who is now part of a motley bunch of rogues who exact revenge against corrupt and exploitative big businesses and executives on behalf of the underdog, is currently airing on Bravo and drawing both impressive viewing figures and notices. What's more it will shortly be moving over to the freeview Virgin channel, trebling its reach and audience, which should help it bring it in more than 500,000 viewers. It represents Icon’s first significant TV launch, as it builds upon its strong reputation for film in the UK. Icon's Ian Dawson said: "The success of the show with its strong production values and great ratings made Leverage a natural fit with our film slate in the UK. With Season 3 already shooting in the US we look forward to working with both the Production team and Bravo to develop build the Leverage brand over the coming years." Icon's Rebecca Burns added: "We're excited to be launching this TV franchise, to which we’re committed to three seasons and are working closely with our partners at Bravo/Virgin 1 to secure some great cross-promotional marketing activity."
Meanwhile, with a slew of big releases under its belt in recent months, Icon believes its policy of price parity between DVD and Blu-ray is continuing to pay off. Last week week its latest release, Edge Of Darkness, was the week's biggest Blu-ray seller, further vindicting its strategy. Icon's Ian Dawson said, on the back of ither recent biggies such as Precious, A Single Man, The Road and the likes: "Blu-ray performance continues to exceed expectations - last week giving Icon the number one selling Blu-ray in the UK (Edge of Darkness), the highest Blu-ray to DVD mix of any UK distributor and made Icon the number two UK Distributor of Blu-rays in the UK by both value and volume. We will continue with our strategy offering a clear option for customers to trade up to the superior format, thereby helping to maintain long term value and build a viable momentum of sales on Blu-ray while avoiding the mixed messages, lost sales and additional costs inherent in three format Blu-ray/digital copy/DVD packages."
Another company moving into a new sector is Manga, which is officially launching a live action brand under the banner of, logically enough, Manga Live Action. The imprint will have a similar feel to its bigger anime sibling, with the emphasis on the word "action". Its titles will include features from South East Asia, taking in not only its traditional source of Japan, but also territories such as Korea, Hong Kong and China. Obviously Manga will use its impeccable credentials across the region to acquire titles, and its not inconsiderable marketing nous in this field will also help. All the titles will be recognisable by their hefty budgets, giving them a high quality threshold, and are all inherently commercial and mainstream releases. First titles include Bangkok Ninja, due at the end of July, and, into August, Kamui: The Lone Ninja, and September's By The Will Of Genghis Khan. Manga's Jerome Mazandarani said: "The DTV action film market is strong, and the market for Asian action films [within that] is quite strong. With our contacts in the Asian film market, we felt it was was a good opportunity for growth."
Over to The Cobden Club, where Revolver held its zombie queen beauty pageant to mark this week's release of Zombie Women Of Satan. For a full report, including picture and a most certainly not safe for work highlights reel, see our website... Needless to say, and as the pictures will testify, this riotous event was deemed a great success and it looks like the event could become a regular on the calendar...
Deal of the week has seen LOVEFiLM ink a long lasting pact with Warner that covers the online rentailer's different platforms, taking in rental by post as well as its streaming service. The multi-pronged deal will see Warner's subscription based video on demand service, WarnerFilms, being offering through LOVEFiLM's own player; Warner's titles being made available through LOVEFiLM on a transactional video on demand basis, as well as all new DVD and Blu-ray releases being available to rent "physically". WarnerFilms offers 24 hour on demand access to 28 films a month, with seven new titles added every week. The transactional vod service will see titles being offered to watch by LOVEFiLM members day and date with the retail release, while the rental by post offering for DVD and Blu-ray wil kick in 28 days after the retail release. Warner Bois UK md Josh Berger said: "This terrific deal underlines our commitment to providing consumers with as many opportunities to view our world class content as possible. LOVEFiLM subscribers will now enjoy long term, multiple access points to a fantastic selection of new release and catalogue titles, many of which will be available at the touch of a button, 24 hours a day." Simon Calver, CEO of LOVEFiLM, added: "We're delighted with this new agreement as it adds significant streamed content to our ever-expanding 'Watch Online' service. It also cements a highly valued long-term relationship with Warner Bros. in the DVD rental space and will help us to expand LOVEFiLM into a hybrid film delivery service that gives our members the titles they want, in the way and time they want to watch them."
If that represented the biggest deal of the week, then the biggest news of the week on the job front was the change at the helm of Optimum, where founder Will Clarke is exiting the company to launch a new production outfit. Stepping up to the role of ceo at the company is Danny Perkins, who has also been at the company since its inception and through its growth and subsequent acquisition by StudioCanal. Perkins, who has been overseeing all aspects of distribution since 2007, will report fo Olivier Courson, chairman and ceo at StudioCanal. Clarke, meanwhile, is leaving at the end of the year to launch his as yet unnamed "media company", along with business partner Paul Higgins. It will include a production operation, Clarke has been closely involved with the development of Optimum's film-making arm and worked on its forthcoming Brighton Rock remake. Both the popular Clarke and Higgins will work closely with StudioCanal, an agreement is on the cards and both will become special advisors to the company. Clarke said: "I'm extremely proud of what has been achieved at Optimum and have loved every minute of this wonderful journey. I particularly want to thank my friend and colleague Danny Perkins who with Paul has been involved in this with me from the very beginning. We also want to wish our friends at StudioCanal every success and would like to thank Olivier Courson and Romain Bessi for their belief in our little company. Paul and I also look forward to continuing to work with StudioCanal in the future. We specifically want to thank everyone who has worked at Optimum over the last 11 years, we couldn't have done it without you and we will miss you very much. It is now time for a new adventure and we look forward to sharing details of our plans in the coming months." Perkins added: "I am extremely honoured to be taking on the role of Chief Executive of Optimum Releasing at such an exciting time for the Company. With the support of StudioCanal we have seen Optimum develop phenomenally in the last few years and I am incredibly excited about the opportunities that leading the UK operation of Europe’s biggest film company present. I could not ask to work with 2 better friends then Will and Paul and I am looking forward to continuing the journey that we started in 1999."
Some fascinating figures from Fox, which has passed the $2 billion mark in foreign – ie non-US or domestic – box office receipts for the year so far. Some 70 per cent of that total is Avatar-related, which contributed $1.4 billion this year, with Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel at number two. With more strong releases slated through to the end of the year, up to Gulliver's Travels in December, Fox is looking to best the highest ever foreign box office total, a record of $2.26 billion the studio recorded last year.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"If you are living a middle class lifestyle and your income goes down by 10 per cent you have plenty of options... You can discover home entertainment to keep the leisure bills down." Senior Tory backbencher John Redwood does his bit for the industry following the budget.
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
It's arguably the book of the year, required reading for any train or tube journey (look at any carriage to see just how many people are reading it) and, come July 19, the home entertainment sector will be able to get a slice of the cake, or rather its fair share of ink, as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, first part of a trilogy, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of Momentum. With more than £2 million taken at the UK box office, on top of 3 million plus book sales, Momentum has, as the company's Kristin Ryan noted, got a "tremendously strong platform" to build on. And build on it Momentum will, with a TV campaign taking in Channel 4, E4, Film4, Five, Sky, Dave, Virgin, Bravo, Watch, 4Music, ITV2 and ITV4 for a mainstream audience and More 4, Sky's Arts and News channels for the ABC1 audience. That mixture of mainstream and arthouse continues for its online elements, ranging from the Guardian and Telegraph through to Total Film, Handbag and Cosmopolitan, as will its press spots (it's worth noting that the film is being made available in both subtitled and dubbed version, the latter created with the home entertainment release in mind). It is also taking the campaign outdoor, via poster sites on the London Underground and National Rail. Timing is a key element, with the next instalment, The Girl Who Played With Fire, opening six weeks after the DVD/BD release, Momentum is going to, Kristin Ryan said, "whet the fans' appetite and direct them right from the DVD viewing to the cinema queue", courtesy of an exclusive five minute clip". Ryan concluded: "With book sales still strong week to week and word of mouth continuing to grow, more and more people being drawn into Larsson's fascinating world. The anticipation for our release is incredibly high, it really is the most exciting film adaptation since The Da Vinci Code."
AT THE MOVIES
Lionsgate was celebrating this weekend, after its impressive bow for Killers, the romcom thriller starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. But it's worth noting that not only was box office unsurprisingly down year on year, but worse still, was down on the same week four years ago during the World Cup... In the US, of course, Toy Story 3 drove all the headlines, with a whopping $110 million taken at the box office.
Flush from its success with StreetDance 3D, interesting to see that UK independent production powerhouse Vertigo has announced its next production – a filmed adaptation of Horrid Henry. The franchise – Britain's second bestselling character after Harry Potter – is big business and comes complete with a built-in audience. Filming will take place in the autumn ahead of a release next year and it will be 3D, natch. Abbey, owner of UK DVD rights for the ongoing television series, must be rubbing its hands at the prospect...
Trolls. Although these have been the next big thing since they first appeared – was it the 60s? Or 70s? The infernal little creatures with their sticky-uppy brightly coloured hair have been used as gonks, mascots and trinkets for years – and after the odd guest appearance in films, they are now coming to the big screen in their own film, according to reports out this week. DreamWorks is developing a script from the Happy Dam toy franchise (see here http://www.damworld.dk/9986282) about the creatures. We're having slightly weird dreams about this film already...
Apes update... (or should that be UpdApes?) Anyway, the latest news from Fox's "reboot" of the Planet Of The Apes franchise. With filming set to start next month ahead of its planned 2011 release, the cast is taking shape; this week both John Lithgow (who will be star James Franco's dad), and Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto have both signed up to star. We're excited, although we're not sure that we can take Franco seriously any more after his recent cameo, alongside side his Japanese love pillow, in the current series of 30 Rock...
SITE OF THE WEEK
The whole webternet thingy is going Scott Pilgrim crazy ahead of the theatrical release of the film. We particularly liked this site – http://www.scottpilgrimthemovie.com/avatarCreator/ – that lets you create your own Pilgrim-related avatar you can then put up on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. A quality promotional site.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Check out #toystory3 to see Disney Pixar's exemplary use of the medium for a theatrical release (albeit in the US). And follow us on http://twitter.com/theraygun
TRAILERS OF THE WEEK
Lo-fi music, poor little rich kids struggling with, you know, like, problems... Yup, Sofia Coppola's back in town.
More of that kind of business here, looks intriguing...
This week's new kids' CGI-animated trailer... http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/fox/rio/
Former arty snapper and Control director Anton Corbijn's ditches the black and white for a Clooney thriller...
Hollywood's obsession with the adult industry continues, we're looking forward to this...
OUT NEXT WEEK ON DVD
Antonio Das Mortes (Mr Bongo Films)
Backs To The Land The Complete First Series (Network)
Being Erica (4DVD)
Breaking Away (Second Sight)
Can’t Stop The Music (Optimum)
Chiko (E1 Entertainment)
Chop Socky Chooks (2 entertain)
Double Take (Soda)
Drop Dead Diva (SPHE)
Everybody’s Fine (WDSHE)
Fireman Sam Danger By the Double (HIT)
Flash Gordon (Optimum) (Blu-ray)
Jack Cardiff Cameraman (Optimum)
Lennon Naked (2 entertain)
Love Goddess Of The Cannibals (Shameless)
The Lovely Bones (Paramount)
The L Word (Fox)
My Name Is Khan (Fox)
Never Mind The Quality Feel The Width (Network)
No Greater Love (Soda)
Puss N Boots (Optimum)
Raw Deal (Optimum) (Blu-ray)
Red Heat (Optimum) (Blu-ray)
Red Sonja (Optimum) (Blu-ray)
Resurrecting The Street Walker (Kaleidoscope)
Roger And Val (Lionsgate)
Sammy Going South (Optimum)
Solomon Kane (EV)
Soul Eater (Manga)
Spoils Of War (Lionsgate)
Vengeance (Optimum) (DVD and Blu-ray)
Warehouse 13 (Universal Playback)
OUT THIS WEEK AT CINEMAS
The Collector (Icon)
Get Him To The Greek (Universal)
Good Hair (Icon)
Villa Amalia (Peccadillo)
Whatever Works (Warner)
When In Rome (Disney)
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