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It Was A Good Week For... Deadpool still on top, while Universal's Dad's Army result is the best for a film of its size for years…
It Was A Bad Week For… Executives nervously eyeing the referendum result…

Just two weeks ago, we were here celebrating the success of the BASE awards, now, a fortnight later, the industry woke up to far more sobering news as the Leave campaign had its way, with the UK voting to get out of the EU. Acquisitions executives and most distributors were left counting the cost already – the plunging pound effectively added an extra 10 per cent on to the cost of films. Worse still is the prospect of UK distributors losing out on MEDIA funding, which has helped cover distribution costs. One acquisitions executive said: “Well, the dollar and pound plunge makes it difficult to be as competitive in a purely straight forward capacity. But the spectre of losing MEDIA funding is terrifying. It could knock out a quarter of our theatrical acquisitions or at least make them necessarily safe and less risk taking than we like to think of ourselves. I can think of a number of high profile films we've done in the last 12 months that we wouldn't have been able to release in the meaningful way they deserved without the contribution from the MEDIA subsidy to assist in broadening the marketing activity.” Another added: “Certainly at the moment the price for European /US has shot up by about 10 per cent. Ramifications are unmeasurable right now but needless to say the ripple effect is far and wide and will hit productions and acquisitions across the board.” Look at the number of homegrown productions that have secured European funding to help complete, with other production-based funding also under threat. Expect loads more on this in the coming weeks. 
BASE, the British Association for Screen Entertainment has also issued its own statement about the vote on Thursday June 23, with the trade organisation saying it will be closely monitoring the plans for their impact on our business. The statement said: “In light of the EU referendum outcome, there will be many questions from across the industry concerning the economic uncertainty that will follow this decision and its potential impact on the home entertainment market. In this immediate period the business implications of an ‘out’ vote are unknown. We will continue to monitor further announcements and developments very closely. BASE will provide a steady pair of hands and ongoing support to all of its members providing evidence to support in the transition and offer stability as the UK withdraws its membership of the EU. In addition the organisation will continue to play a positive role in Westminster and within our wider European creative community to promote and protect the interests of the British video industry, along with our industry colleagues. “

 We reported in full on Deadpool last week on the newsletter and after its first week on sale, with 400,000 or so units shifted, the title became the third fastest seller of 2016, bested only by Spectre and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, no mean feat. It’s sold another 60,000 units up until the midway point this week according to the Official Charts Company’s midweek bulletin. The highest new entry is Alvin And The Chipmunks Road Chip at number four, with Icon’s The Forest at number 15 and The Hollow Crown The Wars Of The Roses a number 17, swiftly followed by Trumbo at 10. 
Back to the number two slot, where Universal’s Dad’s Army is sitting pretty for the second week running, and Universal has enjoyed a remarkable success with the comedy, selling more than 200,000 units in its first week, a strong performance from a film with less than £10 million at the UK box office. Commenting on the title, the company’s Lisa Penna said: “Dad’s Army marched into the market last week in a bid to capture the Father’s Day audience….and that it certainly did.  Off an £8.4 million Box Office, we managed to deliver a staggering 206,289 units in the first week. This is the biggest Week 1 for a title under £10 million since December 2013 and it’s the second biggest Week 1 outside of Q4 since the start of 2010.  We are absolutely thrilled with the result. We delivered a marketing and PR campaign that paid homage to the beloved franchise and it was wonderful to witness to such positive social sentiment from the fans.  We paraded our way up to the East Riding of Yorkshire, where much of the film was shot, to co-launch a Dad’s Army exhibition and a film trail, as well as sending journalists in the air in WW2 Spitfire planes.  All in all, a triumph for the Home Guards of Walmington-On-Sea.”
It’s been described as the finest box set release of not just 2016, but the decade, it’s something we’ve been banging on about since it was first announced and now, at last, the marvellous Dissent And Disruption set from the BFI, an authoritative collection of British director Alan Clarke’s television output, is on the shelves. After a last minute hiccup that saw its release held up over a rights issue, the lavish single Blu-ray box and the two separate DVD SKUs hit the shelves this week and the high ticket item is off to a bright start – some 60 per cent of the limited edition BD collection has sold through, while the single release of Clarke’s folklore tale Penda’s Fen has sold out and is currently being repressed. It joins recent strong sellers from a revitalised BFI Flipside collection too, making for a strong year for the label. Commenting on its success, the BFI’s Sam Dunn said: “We couldn't be happier with the responses to our Alan Clarke box set. Initial feedback suggests that customers are very excited by the way the package looks, along with the quality of the restorations and the extras. But most importantly they're finally getting the opportunity to watch these exceptional works after decades of unavailability. We're delighted that the sales have been so strong; this one's destined to be a collector's item before too long."

 There’s been a huge shake up in sales and distribution side of the independent sector, with the Curzon Artificial Eye owned Fusion Media Sales being at the centre of the changes. The S&D arm of the operation, which looks after its own company’s sales as well as a number of other labels, announced that md Murray Dibbs was exiting the company and that it had appointed Elevation staffer Phil Davis as head of sales. Dibbs had been at the company since it rose from the ashes of the old Jointly owned World Cinema Ltd sales arm, a joint venture between Artificial Eye and Tartan, which had collapsed, overseeing titles which have achieved sales totalling more than 10 million units. Commenting on the changes, Curzon ceo Philip Knatchbull said: “Over the past eight years, Murray has played an integral role in building Fusion into a successful independent sales and distribution provider. His hard work and professionalism will be missed and we wish him the very best in his future endeavours. We are delighted to have appointed Phil Davis as head of sales, who greatly impressed with the calibre of his career achievements, ability and enthusiasm. Phil has exciting and innovative plans for Fusion Media Sales and we are excited about what he and the incredible Fusion team can achieve in the future.” Dibbs himself added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Phillip and the team at Curzon for all their support during my time as Managing Director at Fusion Media Sales. Over the past 10 years we have achieved excellent sales results across all genres despite an unpredictable and ever changing market. Our market share has consistently remained in growth, bucking the trend and proving the strong demand of independent films from UK consumers. I wish Fusion and Curzon all the best for the future as I look forward to the next exciting chapter in my career.” And Phil Davis himself commented: "After 10 hugely rewarding years at Elevation I am incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to join such a dynamic and forward thinking organisation. Fusion Media Sales has a fantastic line up for the rest of 2016 and beyond and we look forward to discussing our plans with all of our business partners in the very near future.”
And within hours, Dibbs had unveiled the “next chapter” he’d referred to: a new sales and distribution operation, going under the name of Wildstar Sales. The new company launches on July 1, with a roster of 10 labels taking in word cinema, Asian films, LGBT and horror titles. Imprints signed up include 88 Films, Bounty Films, Drakes Avenue, Left Films, Matchbox Films, Terracotta, Third Window Films, TLA Entertainment, Tricoast and Verve Pictures. Like Fusion, Wildstar is partnering with Sony DADC for replication and and distribution. It said it will have a “boutique approach”, offering up a “compact but stronger slate of titles”, offing each focus and support. Dibbs said: “I’m very excited to be able to offer the trade such a strong collection of independent labels with a great mix of genres that will service and compliment all areas of retail.”
And there’s more too, as Network has bolstered its own roster of distributed labels after signing on the dotted line with two imprints this week. Arthouse and LGBT operator Peccadillo Pictures is moving over on July 1, with documentary specialist Dogwoof joining on August 1, the pair joining the likes of Medium Rare, Fabulous, WWE titles and Network’s own vast selection of titles. Network’s head of sales Claire Bailey said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Dogwoof and Peccadillo Pictures to Network and start working on an incredible array of titles from both labels, comprising an already established catalogue and some very exciting new releases.” Daniel Green, home entertainment manager at Dogwoof, added: "Network's fresh approach to the ever-changing market consistently proves the value of home entertainment, and it's just one of the many reasons why we're looking forward to working together. We’ve had a fantastic year so far with the release of Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next which has been this year's most successful documentary at the UK box office, and will be our first title released through Network on DVD and Blu-ray on August 8.” Tom Abell, chairman at Peccadillo Pictures, said: “We’re very excited to be working with Network on our home entertainment sales and distribution. The team’s invaluable knowledge and expertise along with a natural synergy between our two companies will ensure that Peccadillo continues to build on its ongoing success and market growth.”
Meanwhile, more from Network and fans of the rather marvellous TV sitcom Count Arthur Strong can rejoice, for the label has inked a deal that will see the company releasing both the second and as yet unaired third series series of this fine comedy series. The series, penned by Graham Linehan and Steve Delaney, has won plaudits and awards nominations, with Network lining up Series 2 for a September release. Don’t just take our word for it, here’s a sample review from the Guardian: “Steve Delaney and Graham Linehan’s old-school comedy must surely be given a third series, and ought to be slap bang in primetime. This run has edged diffidently towards greatness, with several moments where plot and character have meshed to make something sublime. The finale has bittersweet jeopardy as Michael (Rory Kinnear), a sitcom character who isn’t trapped, considers leaving, while Arthur (Delaney) finds success as an unorthodox TV psychic. The transitions from stupid to serious are remarkably deft.” The release will include all seven episodes, with special features including newly commissioned extras. 

 And back to another of the labels we’ve mentioned, 88 Films. We’re big fans of the label, which has looked to innovative strategies to get its ambitious releases out there, including its recent crowdsourcing initiatives (see recent newsletters for more). And word reaches us that it is launching a new imprint, 88 Asia, which will focus on classic martial arts and more from South East Asia from the heyday of the 1970s and 80s (and more). 88’s Richard Elliott said: “We’re launching with four classic Shaw Films. Two have been officially announced, Hex and Five Element Ninjas, and two more, Black Magic and House of Traps, were let slip as part of our indiegogo campaign. These are all terrific looking prints and we will have English and Chinese audio and also some pretty cool specials features lined up. We hope to emulate the success of our Italian Collection with 88 Asia as we know the fans have been crying out for great editions of these classic titles. If these first few titles do well, we have some pretty big plans… watch this space.”
Another label we’ve touched upon this week is Dogwoof, which on Monday June  through its existing Fusion deal, is releasing Versus, the film looking at the life and times of director Ken Loach, one of the finest living Englishmen, if you ask us. Dogwoof launched the film in cinemas with a pioneering run of Pay What You Can screenings, encouraging audiences to dictate their own ticket prices. Commenting on the DVD release, Dogwoof's head of home entertainment Daniel Green stated: "The Pay What You Can screenings, supported by the BFI, proved a great way of building awareness for Versus. We can't wait for the film to find an even wider audience on DVD and on demand. In these uncertain times we need filmmakers like Ken and Louise more than ever.”
Out on Monday June 27 is one of the best titled films of the year, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, due from Lionsgate, which blends the best of Austen and the undead. Commenting on the release, the company’s Ben Grunbaum said: “We’re ‘deathly’ excited to be releasing the fun and action packed Pride + Prejudice + Zombies on DVD, BD and digital formats. Giving the artwork a fresh zombie look while our marketing is focussing on the great cast, action and horror in the film. We’re having a lot of fun on this title across vod, social and online.”

To the Vue cinema in Piccadilly for a special screening of Signature’s big theatrical and pvod release The Colony, out on July 1 ahead of its  DVD and Blu-Ray bow on August 22. The film, retitled from Colonia and starring Emma Watson and Daniel Bruhl, is a tough tale about a strange cult in the middle of nowhere in Chile in the 1970s and lives up to the promise shown in early trailers. Director Florian Gallenberger was in the UK to promote the release, first at the Edinburgh film festival, where it received its UK premiere, then for a Q&A after the London screening too. The Raygun chatted to the amiable director, who said he was taken aback at the strong response to the film. “So far the reaction has been great,” he said. “People are shocked that something like this happened and it’s not really been talked about. They’e been stunned and speechless.”
Signature’s been as busy as ever, with more news coming out of the company’s busy onion HQ, as it this week announced that it has picked up the UK rights to distribute the eagerly awaited film The Hatton Garden Job, based on the high profile raid carried out by an elderly team of gangsters (aka the Enfield Expendables). Voltage Pictures is looking after worldwide sales, and the news of the film and the first still from the production, showing EastEnders star Larry Lamb as one of the gang – another former TV soap star Phil Daniels also stars – earned it acres of coverage. Commenting on the film, Voltage’s John Fremes said: “We’re excited to work on this wildly interesting project and are confident that the film will resonate the world over.”

 Warner is unrelenting in its superhero activity this year, with the major carefully timing a raft of releases, and not just the two blockbuster films (Batman V Superman and the forthcoming Suicide Squad) either, all under its DC Comics banner. While the former arrives on digital HD on July 18 and physical formats on August 1, and the latter at cinemas on August 5, there’s plenty more too. The studio has recently seen some of the stars from its live action US DC series such as The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Lucifer over here for an HMV signing and PR tour and this week it has unveiled plans for the animated adaptation of one of the most notorious Batman tales, The Killing Joke. Penned by legendary comic book scribe Alan Moore, it’s feted among aficionados of the genre. The feature length outing will, warner has announced this week, get a one night only theatrical release on July 25 ahead of its EST release the next day, with a physical bow on August 8. Commenting on the release and activity, Warner’s Jon Kluger said: “The Killing Joke is one of the most popular Batman comic book stories amongst DC fans, so we're really excited to be bringing it to EST and DVD  as an animated feature.”
More acquisition news, and Animatsu has been busy, picking up worldwide rights to the forthcoming Japanese anime In This Corner Of The World, a coming of age drama set in the city of Hiroshima during the Second World War. It previewed at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France as a work in progress and Animatsu’s Jerome Mazandarani said: “There have been previous anime films set around the devastation in Hiroshima, but none with the ultimately uplifting and positive message of In This Corner of the World, so we can’t wait to bring this beautiful film to Annecy. We believe the rest of the world will share our enthusiasm for this story.” The film will be released in Japan by Genco, with Animatsu looking after the rest of the world. The film is directed by Sunao Katabuchi, a former colleague of anime legend Hayao Miyazaki. 
And Studiocanal has been busy too, this week announcing that it had acquired both Paddington And Company Limited, which owns all intellectual property rights for the character apart from books, and The Copyrights Group, which is a licensing agent for the loveable bear. This effectively gives Studiocanal control of Paddington throughout the world and it now plans to exploit it through games, theme parks and live entertainment. Commenting on the deal, the company’s ceo Didier Lupfer said: “We are particularly proud and happy that [Paddington creator] Michael Bond, [Paddington and Company owner and md] Karen Jankel and their family have chosen to trust us with Paddington Bear, who will be welcomed at Studiocanal as one of our family. We have maintained a very close relationship with them since the release of the first film, which was one of the highlights of Studiocanal’s recent development. Following this success, we shall continue to develop Paddington, who is already a familiar feature in millions of homes worldwide. This will start with a second chapter of Paddington’s movie adventures, the shooting of which is to start this autumn. Paddington will benefit from the full strength of a media and entertainment group of Vivendi’s size, with a presence in television, music, live entertainment, video games and the digital world. Paddington is a 58-year-old classic brand and we shall continue to make it grow still further.” Paddington has been one of the success stories of the past few years, with Studiocanal selling an impressive 1.25 million copies over here. 
Internet pirate Paul Mahoney has failed in his appeal against a four-year sentence imposed for running an illegal download site out of his bedroom in Northern Ireland. His legal team appealed, claiming their client was not running it as a money-making operation – even though he had made hundreds of thousands of pounds in advertising revenue, employed staff and claimed benefits while he was offering up illegal downloads of fins and TV programming. He played the sympathy card, claiming his medic and psychological problems weren’t considered in the initial trial, adding he was a loner living in a bedroom at his parents’ home at Carnhill, Derry. But Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said it was a serious case (losses to the industry were estimated at some £12 million), while Mahoney ignored swathes of cease and desist notices. Ruling that the four year sentence – two in jail and two on licence – remain, Morgan said: “The website was clearly professionally structured and he retained staff to assist him with this. He was the driving force behind the criminal behaviour.” If he’d pleaded guilty initially and co-operated with police, he added, the sentence might have been shorter. 

“While we celebrate this exciting new collaborative world, we must also safeguard the rich diversity that gave it life. A diversity endangered by some of the European Commission’s proposals for the Digital Single Market. While the stated goals of these proposals are laudable – offering greater choice to European consumers and strengthening cultural diversity – in reality, these ideas could actually cause great harm to Europe’s film industries and its consumers. Territorial licensing and exclusivity agreements are part of what gives investors the confidence to take a chance on a production. Taking away territoriality and exclusivity agreements means less investment and, in turn, far fewer productions. The European Union is made up of 28 different nations with different cultures, different languages, and different tastes. Forcing every film to be marketed and released the same way everywhere, at the same time, is a recipe for failure.”
US Senator, and chairman and ceo of the MPAA Chris Dodd on the EU’s Digital Single Market plans, which might have been more relevant of the vote had gone a different way…
With a strong preview performance aiding it, the second The Conjuring film, subtitled The Enfield Case, took £4.6 million in its opening weekend (although it must be noted, The Secret Life Of Pets, on preview, bested it last weekend, giving it a head start for the next box office update. Gods Of Egypt, with just under £500,000 was the other significant new entry. 
It’s all going, ahem, Pete Tong for Netflix, as the streaming service has announced that the DJ has joined tyne team working on Xoxo, its EDM-inspired tale due to arrive as an svod offering later in the summer. Tong is serving as both a producer and music consultant, something he’s already done on a number of films, ranging from The Beach to 24 Hour Party People. Heck, he’s even had a film, It’s All Gone Pete Tong, named after him. The film follows six people whose paths cross at an electronic dance music festival…
Disney supremo Bob Iger has been discussing the new burst of Indiana Jones films, getting himself all in a tangle while discussing the next planned outing, the fifth starring Harrison Ford, and others beyond that. He even discussed a “reboot”, a word that will send fans into a tizzy, before saying he wouldn’t go any further discussing plans. He did promise that the fifth instalment, due in three years’ time, was not a one-off…
News you thought you knew but wasn’t actually announced until this week: it’s been confirmed that Darth Vader will be appearing in Star Wars: Rogue One later this year. Better still, James Earl Jones is returning as the voice of the evil chanced…
As part of its pre-Father’s Day vinyl onslaught, HMV canvassed staff at head office and in stores about their favourite records. We’ve got a pretty good idea who “Andy” and “Tim” are too… See it here:  
The Inferno is heating up…
This gets better and better…
Westworld on HBO also looks ace…
“You’re a legend…”
Everyone’s favourite action hero returns…
More from Signature…
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