Film rises from the ashes of the Sony fire

By Amanda Leek

Eureka’s Masters of Cinema label have risen from the ashes after the destruction of the London riots. The company lost their entire DVD back catalogue in the fire at the Pias Sony distribution centre but are already in the process of  releasing new exclusive Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD titles in an attempt to recover from the crisis.

Over 150 independent cinema and music labels lost most or all of their DVD and CD stock to the destruction in Enfield, North London,  last month. Music fans were urged to download tracks to support independent music labels after this terrible financial knock. Reports varied greatly on the exact number of discs destroyed with the BBC claiming it was in the region of 1.5 million and the Telegraph suggesting it was 3 million. Either way the loss to the creative industries was severe.

The tens of thousands of  DVDs and Blu-rays lost in the fire have also been a bitter blow to the film industry as independent film distributors such as BFI, Artificial Eye and Dogwoof rely heavily on home entertainment titles as sources of revenue. According to the BFI’s Managing Director, Tom Abell, many film releases will be delayed until DVDs can be manufactured to back them up.

Pias hired Sony to store stock at the three-storey, 24,000 square metre warehouse which was burned to the ground. A donation fund was set up within hours of the fire by Pias to help support the labels and artists affected and Sony has set up two interim warehouses in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Furthermore, when questioned, Steve Hills from Eureka Entertainment praised Sony for their efforts, who are reportedly working all hours to get Eureka and other labels back up and running again.

Emerging evidence suggests the distribution centre may have been deliberately targeted by professional robbers in a planned raid. Some reports have suggested that looters dismantled the high security fence with specialist equipment and summoned a fleet of vans to load the stock which, given the already difficult financial climate, could see some independent companies go bankrupt.

Eureka, however, have got straight back down to business  with new Dual Format titles in Blu-ray and DVD, re-pressing many films which carried separate editions. The first to be released is the new edition of Sunrise by F. W. Murnauon September 12. Available on Blu-ray for the first time, this new edition contains two versions: aA previously released Movietone version and an alternate silent version, recently discovered in the Czech Republic and of a higher visual quality than other known sources.

Although the destruction to commercial buildings during the riots was deeply shocking, the loss to the film and music industries as a direct result of the Sony fire is a prime example of how such socio-political frays can have a long lasting effect on national culture and undoubtedly underlines the  importance of addressing what caused the riots in the first place.

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