Get Your Orders In

Wednesday, August 25 2010
Get Your Orders In

The phrase “biggest Q4 ever” will be overly familiar to anyone who has ever attended a summer presentation looking forward to product for the past three months of that year. It’s a phrase tossed around by distributors and suppliers almost willy nilly to describe their wares for the months ahead, but often one takes what they’re saying with a pinch of salt.

But in the case of Anchor Bay and its line-up for the rest of 2010, its bold statement – “by far our biggest Q4 ever” is its opening gambit when The Raygun sits down for a presentation at the company’s office – is more than bluster. It’s backed up with product and an ambition that is driving it forward. The company is now seeing a clutch of elements coming together – its film acquisitions have been improving, its fitness titles from the US have become a genuine phenomenon over here too and its picked up a couple of big comedy artists to add to its roster. Add a hugely commercial outing from sister label Manga, which could take anime to a wider audience, and its continued advances into the live action sector, and you’re seeing the evidence to back up its “best ever” Q4 claim…

Here’s a look at the highlights:

Escape From Vampire Island

Airing as part of Frightfest, this is another entry into the ongoing live action branch of Manga. As the company’s Jerome Mazandarani said: “It’s Lost meets The Lost Boys meets Battle Royale.”

Professor Layton And The Eternal Diva

We’ll be covering this extensively closer to its release, but suffice to say, this is a genuinely exciting title from Manga. It’s based on the popular Nintendo DS brand – 1.5 million units sold and counting in the UK – and a new game due around the time of Manga’s October 4 release.

Fanboys

This has taken what seems like an eternity to arrive on DVD, but is eagerly awaited, especially among the geeks, nerds and, yes, titular fanboys. It follows a group of lads who get caught up in a cross-country trek to break into George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. Along the way they meet loads of familiar faces, from William Shatner to Carrie Fisher. The cast includes breakthrough US comic Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen (in multiple roles). “We’re going to work this along the lines of a theatrical campaign,” said Thom Leaman at Anchor Bay.

The Gathering

It is, as Anchor Bay rightly said, “a strong title”. A chiller, filmed around Glastonbury, that boasts a stellar cast including Cristina Ricci, alongside Brit stars (it’s filmed in the UK) Robert Hardy, Mackenzie Crook and Ioan Gruffud.

Hunt To Kill

The second of a brace of titles from Anchor Bay featuring Steve Austin, the man previously known as Stone Cold Steve Austin back in his WWE wrestling days. Austin, of course, is currently doing the business in The Expendables, co-starring here alongside two of his Expendables cast-mates, Eric Roberts and Gary Daniels.  “This is a must for all fans of The Expendables,” said Rod Smith.

Christmas titles

There are a batch of Christmas-themed titles from the company, such as The Dog Who Saved Christmas, Jack & The Beanstalk, starring Kick Ass’s Chloe Moretz, and A Christmas Proposal, competitively priced with a keen eye on the gifting market.

Al Murray

One of two big comedy signings for Anchor Bay, Al Murray needs little or no introduction to the DVD market, having made his name as the Pub Landlord and being a familiar figure on the shelves – he boasts lifetime DVD sales of more than 700,000 units. Recorded on his October dates and with a November release slated, Anchor Bay is pulling out all the stops for this one, It is planning what Anchor Bay’s Emma Nicholls calls an “event-sized campaign”. This means full TV support, outdoor, including bus T-sides, while Murray will be giving his full support to the release in PR terms, appearing on all the major programmes.

Lee Mack Going Out Live

“This could well be one of the surprise acts of the year,” said Anchor Bay’s Emma Nicholls, “we are looking at Rhod Gilbert plus numbers.” Mack is the comic whose years of hard work are paying off. He has a new series of Not Going Out due on screens this autumn (brought back by public demand, no less) and is playing to an estimated 200,000 people across 130 dates. His previous DVD outing sold 70,000 units last year without any promotion or activity. Again Mack is promising his full support while Anchor Bay is pledging a significant advertising spend.

22 Bullets

This is, as Anchor Bay’s Rod Smith said, “a balls to the wall stylish revenge movie.

A big budget production from the producers of Taken and From Paris With Love, it stars Jean (Leon) Reno. And when you think of Taken’s 1 million plus sales, you’re looking at plenty of potential for DVD.

“A huge box office smash and Reno’s best performance since Leon,” said Smith.

10 Minute Solution

No celebs, no budget, no TV ads, no traditional support… and yet 10 Minute Solution has become a genuine fitness phenomenon. As Anchor Bay boldly stated: “Our little brand got big.”

Currently the number one selling fitness brand, it has sold more than 600,000 units, half of those this year, and is projected to hit the 1 million unit mark in December. That’s inspired confidence and with Blast Off Body Fat, Anchor Bay is aiming for a number of firsts – first major TV campaign, first above the line support and, for the first time, a programme specially made for the UK (for the uninitiated, it is a US brand). It is also taking on ambassadors to represent the brand, celebrities who will use it and then make PR and public appearances to support it and extol its virtues.  Those ambassadors will appeal to different audienes, ensuring an even wider reach for the brand. “It’s produced specifically for our market,” said Emma Nicholls. “But we don’t want to change it too much, it’s credible and it works.”

But with the TV support, Anchor Bay is aiming to boost its profile and standing in the fitness sector even further.

2011

Into next year and as well as more fitness, Anchor Bay will also see the first fruits of parent Starz’ move into television production (it is going after the HBO kind of market, with a former HBO man at its helm), meaning Spartacus Blood And Sand is due to arrive following its successful TV bow this year, with a strong feature film slate led off by I Spit On Your Grave.

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