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Giving the people what they want — whatever that might be.

Giving the people what they want — whatever that might be. (photo)

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Every year, the Los Angeles Times‘ Patrick gathers an informal teen focus group to go over the summer’s trailers and offer their thoughts.

Goldstein notes that this isn’t precisely scientific — his past samplings, largely made up of private school kids ,were objected to by marketers as “not representative of typical American teenagers.” So this year he got public schoolers from Orange County and ran the tests. (Aside: is Orange County — home of Disneyland, scrupulous political conservatism and the Richard Nixon Memorial Library — really “representative of typical American teenagers”? This sounds like of one of those “only in LA ” ideas to me.)

I don’t really talk much with teenagers on a regular basis, but a 17-year-old who says (re: “Robin Hood”) that Ridley Scott is “one of the few directors who could make an exciting movie just with arrows” is already way ahead of most average adult movie-goers, who tend to be indifferent to keeping track of who made what.

The kids do sound a lot like their private school counter-parts of last year, whose predictions included great excitement about “Terminator: Salvation” (which made $125 million domestically) and were less than excited about “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Star Trek.” But what this really seems to prove is that kids who live close to the entertainment capitol of the world are on a whole other page.

05042010_monsters.jpgWhat’s interesting about Goldstein’s article is the fundamental disconnect between the people who write about movies professionally and the audiences they ostensibly understand. For example: at the end of March, when “How To Train Your Dragon”‘s opening weekend disappointed, Steven Zeitchik quickly pumped out a little think piece about how animated movies might be developing a “success-quality gap.”

The evidence: the only “well-reviewed” animated movies that do really well are Pixar films, while “critics’ favorites” like “Coraline” and “Wallace & Gromit” flounder. The final damning instance: “Monsters Vs Aliens” made more money than “Dragon” with weaker reviews — which, unfortunately, after this weekend will no longer be true. The conclusion? “You can create really good animated films but, as a rule, you’ll have more success if your films aren’t that great.”

The math on this is obviously now not checking out, but this is just one blip. Entertainment writers always make generalizations about the viewing public: sometimes it’s that they’re easily manipulated byf advertising, sometimes it’s that quality “actually matters,” and sometimes it’s some variant of the critics-vs.-public theme. But the reality always delivers exceptions, and it’s just about impossible to tell with perfect certainty what a blockbuster-size crowd wants.

05042010_dragon.jpgThis much we know: formulaic, demographic-conflating movies tend to make much more money than other types, which isn’t much of a surprise when most people get their information about movies from advertising and word-of-mouth. But while audiences can easily be led, they can just as easily, with no warning, refuse to show up, something that has little to do with notions of “good” and “bad.” People who cover the film biz don’t understand “the audience” better than anyone else.

[Photos: “Robin Hood,” Universal, 2010; “Monsters Vs Aliens,” Dreamworks, 2009; “How To Train Your Dragon,” Dreamworks, 2010]

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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…

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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.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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