NEWSLETTER :: December 3 2010
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It was a good week for… Online retailers, who enjoyed both their busiest day of the year on Monday, and got the benefit of the bad weather as shoppers stayed at home and logged on rather than brave the cold…

It's been a bad week for… traditional retailers, as snow severely hampered shoppers' visits to stores. Outlets were closed and big shopping centres such as Bluewater and Lakeside – both nearer to some of the worst affected parts of the country – were virtually deserted…

So, it was a week when sales should have taken off at stores, after payday at the end of the month. Things should have been building at a rapid rate after Toy Story 3's debut week (just over 1.4 million units or so, according to estimates), and then the snow came along and turned places such as Bluewater into near-ghost towns. Some titles, Toy Story 3 aside, are performing way beyond expectations. Among the most successful are a brace from 2 entertain – John Bishop and An Idiot Abroad, as well as HBO's The Pacific (mentioned here previously) and also starting strongly is Anchor Bay's Lee Mack. 2 entertain sales director Brian Hill said: "Both John Bishop and Karl Pilkington are stars of the moment – our job has been to identify the opportunity early and do everything possible to mobilise support from retail through marketing and PR to drive the best possible result across the counter. Bishop’s rising star has been evident from early in the year and we’ve worked closely with him to realise the potential. His collaboration and promotional support has really helped to elevate his debut DVD well above his competitors. With Karl, we saw on watching early episodes and then watching the public reaction that we were on to something big. Again we’ve worked closely with Karl himself and retail to see this through. We’ve had early success with both titles but our strategy will see us continue to push our ad campaigns, PR and in-store support right the way through to Christmas."

Also performing well this week: Frankie Boyle's latest stand-up release has enjoyed a lift this week – some 17,000 units have been sold over the past few days – on the back of the launch of his new TV series, Tramadol Nights, which launched this week on Channel 4. 4DVD has the rights and will be releasing the programme in the New Year.

Last week we raved about Momentum's doc Catfish, one of the most talked about films of the year, and this week the distributor and LOVEFiLM have announced an innovative release strategy for the title. This will see a multi-pronged release and LOVEFiLM's most ambitious plan thus far. On December 14 – three days ahead of its theatrical release – the film will be streamed via to 250 members and at 40 cinemas, with an interactive Q&A with the film-makers after the film has finished. The film will then be released on December 17 at cinemas and via video on demand services, including LOVEFiLM's. Ten days later, December 27, it will have a two week exclusive rental window from the online retailer and then, on January 10, the doc will be available to buy tradewide. It further cements LOVEFiLM's relationship with Momentum which has seen them partnering on previous releases such as Mesrine and, more recently, Frozen. LOVEFiLM editor Helen Cowley told The Raygun: "This is really exciting for us. It's a good example of us supporting a title from the cradle to the grave. It's a perfect film for us because of the nature of the content." Momentum's head of TV and new media sales Nick Smith added: "The unique release strategy that we have in place for the UK will give audiences a choice as to how they want to watch Catfish and share the experience with their friends and family. The viewing options offered by our video-on-demand and pay-per-view partners will provide a great insight into how consumers want to watch movies at a time when there is so much choice available to them." For more on this and windows, see our website early next week.

Before Catfish and next year's releases start making their way to DVD, however, there are still some biggies due to arrive this side of Christmas. Chief among those is The Expendables (which we watched again this week on DVD and it really is perfect for the format). Lionsgate is now readying itself for the release on December 13 and putting the final touches to an impressive campaign that will be led with TV advertising. Lionsgate's Sarah Sanders said: "The Expendables campaign is set up to be huge, with full scale ATL activity running across TV, press and online. Online was launched mid November with terrific responses so far. We have a fantastic set of pos and some great off- and online PR activity set up, making maximum use of social networking and promotional partner opportunities. We’ve got some great joint activities with partners such as Harley Davidson, Police watches and LA Fitness and have had amazing support from Dolph Lundgren in particular to make this a really standout campaign that’s been a lot of fun to work on; and we’re confident will result in spectacular sales in the run up to Christmas." Speaking of Dolph Lundgren, please click here to see possibly the best thing we've EVER seen on youtube. (Thanks to Giles Edwards for pointing us in the right direction.)
Is January 31 the new December 27? Anchor Bay thinks so – it has eschewed the post-Christmas bloke friendly release slot for its forthcoming actioner 100 Bullets and instead plumped for the last day of January. The reason? As well as fitting neatly with its PR plans, it's also the first Monday after payday, a time when people are so happy to have some money in their pockets after the traditionally skint month of January that they'll be rushing out to buy a film. The company's Thom Leaman said: "The decision to go out at the end of January instead of the initial post-Christmas slot was partly to allow for some really exciting PR breaks we’re planning (watch this space), and also to capitalise on what is increasingly becoming a strong release window – first payday after the long dark month that is January. And what better way to lift your January blues than to sit back and marvel in such a shamelessly entertaining slice of action cinema and celebrate the gun-toting return of the legend Jean Reno."
The announcement of the date of the impending Royal wedding hasn't changed the BVA's plans for next year's awards. If anything, the date of the nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton will have one positive spin-off for our industry. Their wedding takes place on April 29, now declared a bank holiday, the day after the awards, which means most of the industry will be able to have a lie in and recover from their hangovers without having to worry about work. As well as the date and venue (April 28, Old Billingsgate), the BVA has also announced the host of the event. This year it will be compered by rising star Simon Evans, a stand-up comic and writer who has numerous radio, TV and live performances under his belt. BVA director general Lavinia Carey said: "It's very exciting to have a new star to present the BVA Awards ceremony in April 2011. We’ve had excellent reviews of his style from some of our members and we’re sure he will be a fabulous entertainer for our guests on the evening."

We like it when our friends do well (part 1): Icon has unveiled a new structure that sees industry stalwart Ian Dawson, formerly at HMV, being promoted to the role of joint managing director of the company. He will oversee all aspects of the UK business, including home entertainment and theatrical, alongside fellow joint md Hugo Grumbar, who will be looking after the international side of the business. The restructure sees former ceo Stewart Till taking on a new role as chairman for the Icon UK group. The move, a statement said, reflected the company's increasing move towards film finance and international sales.   

We like it when our friends do well (part 2): eOne has announced a restructure that will see Matt Brightwell being promoted to the role of head of sales and marketing. The move follows the announcement that head of sales Noreen Nurgin is retiring after more than 17 years in the business. Burgin retires at the end of March, but Brightwell's promotion is effective from January. It which follows a review by director of home entertainment Jon Bourdillon, who decided to bring the sales and marketing teams under the one newly created role. Commenting on the appointment, Bourdillon said: "Committed, enthusiastic and professional, Noreen has made many friends in eOne and the industry as a whole. She has been a mainstay of Contender and eOne during her time and her contribution to the growth of the company cannot be overstated. She receives our deserved thanks for all she has done for our business and we wish her well in her retirement. Matt’s promotion is recognition of his hard work and valued contribution as head of marketing.  His strength of leadership will provide continuity for the business and leave us best placed to manage the growth of our business in the future." Burgin, who worked at Spearhead and Medusa before heading to Contender, which in turn morphed into eOne, added: "I have enjoyed my time in this industry enormously but no time more than the years I have spent with eOne, It has been my absolute pleasure to be part of this exciting company and to watch it grow from a child into a lively teenager and like all teenagers they have to go their own way, so now I say goodbye to eOne and the collegues who have meant so much to me. May I take this opportunity to congratulate Matt Brightwell on his promotion and may eOne go from strength to strength."

This week on our website, we've had our usual round-up of the weekend's press coverage, a look at A Serbian Film ,more of our My Inspiration, some trailers and assorted bits and bobs click here.

How journalism works (part 364): Or never let the facts get in the way of a story, as The Guardian appeared to have made up its mind about how it was planning to cover our industry in a major piece of editorial in Monday's Media Guardian section. Under the headline "Is it time to shelve DVDs?" it used words like "sales slump", "crisis", "decline" and "obsolete" within the first few paragraphs, had a welter of jumbled up figures (switching from US to UK whenever convenient), quoted sales numbers out of context (2 entertain's Sherlock, for example, was a roaring success and Doctor Who is on the right track), ignored the fact that value in the market is UP this year, and then, towards the end, slipped in the fact that analysts expected the market to be down two per cent in 2010. In a recession and with government cuts of up to 25 per cent, that, by our reckoning, is some slump. All this from a newspaper that has cut DVD and Blu-ray reviews from its Friday Film & Music supplement, and yet relies on home entertainment advertising (and editorial), to prop up elements such as its Saturday Guardian Guide supplement. We hope that media buyers and marketing people remember the old maxim, "with friends like that…" when it comes to booking advertising. Read the article here, and check comments from under web-based pseudonyms, both The Raygun and at least one senior industry marketing figure…

More from the frontline of journalism: after years when most of the negative stories in the home entertainment sector are directed towards the games industry, we noted something of a return to the bad old days of the 80s and 90s with this week's Daily Mirror story about the exempt certificate and all the bad stuff you could watch under the seemingly innocuous guise of an Exempt certificate. Apparently, children can watch explicit lap dancing DVDs, cage fighting releases and more. See this remarkable piece of investigative journalism here.

Martial arts fans who attend this weekend's Kings Of The Cage event at The Troxy in London's East End and those who watch it on Sky Sports next week, can't fail to see some smart sponsorship from Revolver. The company is backing the event to help promote the release of its gangster thriller Bonded By Blood, due on December 27. The floor of the ring will feature the film's logo, and the MC will also mention it on the night, while TV ads will bookend the television transmission to Sky Sports' 250,000 plus viewers. Revolver's home entertainment marketing manager Mike Hewitt said: "We are very pleased to be sponsoring this weekend’s King of the Cage event with our December 27 release of Bonded By Blood. As well as being a hugely entertaining night in itself, the exposure from the ring announcements and ringside banners, as well as the subsequent bumper spots during the three Sky Sports broadcasts of the event later in the month mean we are able to reach out directly to our core audience for our Boxing Day release of this terrific UK gangster film."

Fitness now, and rarely a day goes by without the tabloid newspapers having a story about Kerry Katona. And given that many of those over the past year have focused on her weight problems, which she's now shed, as recent red-top stories have shown, it's perhaps no surprise to hear that Ms Katona is fronting her first fitness DVD. Kerry's Real Fitness is arguably one of the biggest celeb fitness titles of the season, features the former Atomic Kitten showing the routines that helped her go down to a trim size eight. It's due on December 27 from ITV Studios Home Entertainment, which won the battle to sign Katona up. And in a move that will see her show off her svelte figure and increase her profile even further, Katona is set to star in her own reality show on ITV2. ITV Studios Home Entertainment's Kylie Featherstone said: "We are delighted to be working with Kerry, she’s really turned her life around. Kerry is very relatable, probably the reason why she sells so many magazines – she’s very accessible and real women see her as an inspiration" Katona herself added: "I’m delighted to be releasing this fitness DVD, I have struggled with my weight over the last few years but this year I have stayed totally focused on maintaining a healthy body and mind. I do the exercises from this DVD all the time – they’ve really helped me."

ITV is covering all bases with its fitness releases: at one end of the spectrum, on the celebrity-led side, it has Kerry Katona, at the other end, for the real fitness fanatics, it has one of the unsung heroines of the fitness market, Tracy Anderson. She will be landing on these shores to support the next release, The Tracy Anderson Method Total Cardio Workout as part of a campaign that will also include TV advertising. ITV's Richard Bernard said: "Each New Year Tracy Anderson proves to be the queen of women's glossies and the health and fitness conscious press – 2011 will be no different. Tracy will be in the UK in January to promote her Total Cardio Workout DVD through press, broadcast and the Internet. Supporting this highly visible PR will be an above the line advertising campaign encompassing press and TV advertising as well as online ads on There should also be a very special treat for all her Method fanatics - more will be revealed closer to the time."

Acorn has signed up all rights to one of its most popular series, Foyle's War. The deal, with Greenlit Rights Linited, takes in other programming too, and gives Acorn permanent ownership, the first time it has acquired one of its series outright. As well as DVD – which it has had for several years – the new deal gives it online and TV, as well as intellectual property rights. The other programming includes Vexed, a three part comedy drama from this year; Honest, starring Amanda Redman, The Man Who Lost His Head with Martin Clues, drama Menace and the Jemma Redgrave starring thriller The Swap. Acorn Media Group ceo Miguel Penella said: "We see this acquisition as a key step forward in the company’s vision of becoming a comprehensive media company for discerning audiences, and we are very excited to add these popular and critically-acclaimed programmes to our library. Foyle’s War has been one of our top-selling franchises on DVD for many years, and we look forward to its strong future as we continue that DVD distribution and expand it across other platforms." UK md Paul Holland added: "Foyle’s War is set to be a million pound franchise for Acorn UK this year so it’s really exciting development for us to be able to have control over a far wider set of rights. We have started to meet with all the parties involved in this amazing series and we are working together to plan its continued success for many many years."

Acquisitions news from Arrow, which has been inking a raft of deals since the arrival of new acquisitions supremo Tom Stewart. The latest involve a pair of big budget films. Captain Alatriste is a $28 million epic and the most expensive Spanish language film ever. It stars Viggo Mortensen and is a 17th century action-packed swashbuckler. 1612 is a similarly epic historical tale, a Russian big budget actioner (see the trailer here for a taste of the title). Both will arrive in 2011, which is looking like an increasingly busy year for Arrow…     

More acquisitions news, as independent Asian cinema specialist Terracotta Distribution has acquired two titles for release in 2011. The two Hong Kong-made films, Sparrow and The Detective, will be the label's sixth and seventh releases, and are both due in April. The former is directed by Johnnie To, a name that should be familiar to HK action fans thanks to the likes of PTU and Election and will benefit from a theatrical release. The latter meanwhile, is helmed by Oxide Pang, one half of the Pang Brothers responsible for The Eye. Terracotta's Joey Leung said: "We are extremely excited to be releasing titles from such well respected directors. In particular we hope to help push the awareness of Johnnie To even more in the UK and we are already hard at work to lovingly create a unique edition for Sparrow."
And finally, after some nine months in existence (we'll avoid some kind of gestation wisecrack), The Raygun is delighted to announce that, due to our rapid growth, we've sought out some editorial help in the form of Jessica Mellor, the former Daily Mirror DVD correspondent turned freelance. Our new roving reporter will be assisting us on an ad hoc basis, we've already forced her to watch A Serbian Film and report on the proceedings – for the full feature see our website. The Raygun's Tim Murray said: "I've known Jessie for almost 20 years and worked with her throughout that time. I'm delighted that she's going to help out both online and on our newsletter. We're growing fast and it's great to have someone who knows our industry on board to help out." Jessie added: "It's really exciting to be working with Tim again and I'm looking forward to working on The Raygun as well other freelance projects." She can be contacted on



Sunday saw us at London's Leicester Square for an exclusive gala screening of Megamind, the latest DreamWorks/Paramount release. And what a time we had – great fun in the foyer beforehand (we're still laughing at the pictures we had taken of us with Megamind-sized heads) and an excellent film.


"By seizing these domain names, we have disrupted the sale of thousands of counterfeit items, while also cutting off funds to those willing to exploit the ingenuity of others for their own personal gain." US attorney general Eric Holder caps a bad week for pirates after US officials cracked down and shuttered more than 80 pirate websites. The move came after courts confirmed the jail sentences for the trio behind The Pirate Bay website.  


If, like us, you were glued to your TV screens last weekend for the first episode of the new season of Peep Show, you'll be eagerly awaiting the next episode tonight. It really was as good as we'd hoped, even if we had to watch some of it through our fingers… After its impressive bow, 4DVD is now readying itself for the forthcoming DVD. The release, on December 27, will be trailed after broadcast and there'll be press ads in publications such as the Metro newspaper and Guardian Guide supplement. 4DVD is also putting together an online Peep Show quote generator (we can't wait to see this, link coming soon). 4DVD's Pippa Simmons said: "Channel 4’s longest running sitcom, Peep Show is back for a seventh series and is as funny as ever. Mark is a father now and Jeremy finds himself with more money and responsibility, so I’m sure there will plenty of hilarious moments to keep the fans happy."

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows continues its dominance at the UK box office, it has now taken more than £33 million and could become the best box office earner of the series thus far. Elsewhere, in a week stacked with new releases, Fox's Denzel Washington starrer Unstoppable steamed ahead with £1.7 million in its opening frame, while London Boulevard took more than £500,000, The American had a debut of more than £400,000, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet' Nest took over £200,000 and Machete took just under £100,000.    

It looks like the Three Stooges movie, based on the adventures of Curly, Moe and Larry is back on. Stories suggest the film will start shooting next Spring under the eye of the Farrelly brothers. Their old muse Jim Carrey was set to star, but both he and Sean Penn, another name attached, are no longer involved, although Benicio Del Toro may be, according to reports this week.

An ever-busy Ricky Gervais has this week unveiled the latest project he is set to be involved in, albeit in a cameo role. He will appear in the forthcoming new Muppets movie from Disney. He joins an all-star cast that will include Jack Black, Zach Galifianakis, Jean Claude Van Damme, Emily Blunt and Billy Crystal. The story sees the Muppets getting back together again to save their film studio…

Frankenstein returns. Sony is set to put a new version of Mary Shelley's creation into production. The studio was responsible for the last take on the tale, directed by Kenneth Branagh, back in 1994.

To tie in with one of the big stories this week, we thought we'd point you in the direction of LOVEFiLM's Catfish microsite –  

Oh thank you, Twitter, for pointing us in the direction of the wonderful Dolph Lundgren clip (see above). Follow us on


We want an action butler.

Great title for a film, the lead character appears to be named after our junior correspondent too:

More fun for the kids:

Actor Michael Rapaport named his son after Maseo from De La Soul and now he's made a doc about A Tribe Called Quest. Let's hope he gets it in sync in time for its release:
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