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Did Jennifer Aniston and Liam Neeson sink a distributor?

Did Jennifer Aniston and Liam Neeson sink a distributor? (photo)

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2009 has been a year in which home video companies attempted to make a splash in the theatrical market and wound up doing a belly flop instead. While there doesn’t seem to be any permanent damage to Anchor Bay’s business from theatrical non-starters like Ashton Kutcher’s “Spread” after years of making a mint on DVD re-releases of “The Evil Dead,” the venerable Image Entertainment was reported yesterday to be considering filing for bankruptcy.

The recent downturn in the DVD business surely has contributed to the situation, but this could also be because Image, long the distributor of the Criterion Collection and countless indie films on home video, decided to start distributing some of their films theatrically, beginning with the Jennifer Aniston-Steve Zahn odd duck “Management” (released via Samuel Goldwyn) and more recently, the Liam Neeson-Laura Linney thriller “The Other Man,” a movie with such a low-profile release this fall that it eluded our “Season of ‘Man’-ly Movies” chart.

If there’s an obvious trend here, it’s that recognizable stars (not of the Steven Seagal variety) are appearing more and more in movies that you first hear of while scrolling through Netflix or strolling through Blockbuster, even if the films received a theatrical release, a point that Alison Willmore and Matt Singer discuss in this week’s IFC News podcast.

That plays into the interest of these home video companies who are likely able to sweeten deals with a film’s producers by saving face for their stars by throwing in a limited theatrical release to avoid the stigma of having their latest film considered to be “direct-to-DVD.” Once the film gets to its final destination, it’s bound to stand out on store shelves because of some familiar floating heads. Justin Timberlake and Jeff Bridges in “The Open Road”? Yep, came out for one week back in August.

12162009_Spread.jpgBut even the smallest theatrical releases come at a cost, as Image has discovered the hard way, and the true losers seem to be the artists who are getting short thrift for taking some chances.

Image mismanaged “Management,” which is one of the year’s overlooked films, an unusually charming love story in the vein of “Something Wild” that eludes rather than reinforces its easy “quirky comedy” tag. Coincidentally, I rented “Spread” the other night on DVD and, like others, was pleasantly surprised by my appreciation of Kutcher’s thoroughly dislikable gigolo at the center of the Los Angeles wonderland created by “Young Adam” director David Mackenzie.

I fear for what will become of the recent Image acquisition “Don McKay,” a dark, twisty Thomas Haden Church thriller I saw when it premiered at Tribeca, scheduled to get a theatrical release in April. These films aren’t easy sells, and with fewer distributors out there, it’s possible more films may not get a release of any kind, let alone theatrical. Especially if Image Entertainment isn’t around in the home video business anymore.

[Photos: Steve Zahn and Jennifer Aniston in “Management,” Image Entertainment, 2009; Anne Heche and Ashton Kutcher in “Spread,” Anchor Bay Films, 2009]


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…


A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.