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AMC Theatres Slashes Screens for “Hatchet II”

AMC Theatres Slashes Screens for “Hatchet II” (photo)

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No good dead goes unpunished, not in real life and certainly not in horror films. When AMC Theatres decided to exhibit an unrated slasher movie like Adam Green’s “Hatchet II” on 68 of its screens, they must have assumed that showing themselves to be a supporter of independent films and uncensored content would net them some good PR if nothing else. Not quite; when AMC yanked the film after just three days of release due to poor box office performance it set off an Internet firestorm. Green blamed the MPAA, telling Entertainment Weekly that his film’s swift exit from movie screens “probably had something to do with the controversy online about an unrated movie playing in theaters.” When AMC insisted their move was purely a “business decision,” horror fans aimed their bile directly at the multiplex chain: if you’ve ever wanted to hear a large, multinational corporation described as a bunch of pussies, well, your day has finally come.

Green’s problems with the MPAA go back to the first “Hatchet,” which was released with an R rating only after repeat visits to the MPAA ratings board. Last week, Green talked about the experience with EW:

“They kept giving the movie an NC-17. There is absolutely no way that movie should have gotten an NC-17. All the gore in it is so ridiculous and over-the-top that you can’t take it seriously. It was a terrible, terrible loss when “Hatchet I” came out in theaters. None of the fun stuff that people had been reading about for two years was in the movie anymore. But the MPAA is notoriously hard on independent movies… [They] are a very big and powerful — even though they’re evil — organization. But if people support this, and we make enough noise at the box office, it will change the game for the genre. That’s when it’ll be a win. It’s up to the fans now to support this, so it isn’t all in vain, and we can start to change the system. I’m really hoping for a [box office] miracle.”

Green and his marketers pinned their hopes for that miracle on AMC, and an ad campaign specifically tied to “Hatchet II”‘s lack of a rating (I saw posters for the film at Fantastic Fest that even used the tagline “Support Unrated Horror”). If nothing else, “Hatchet II”‘s $52,000 weekend gross proves that turning a gory, tongue-in-cheek slasher movie into a referendum on free speech isn’t a shortcut to box office gold. Those “uncut and unrated” slogans are on DVDs because people want to see extreme blood and guts, not because they’re looking to strike a blow against organized censorship. They’re horror fans, not freedom fighters.

Given Green’s history with the MPAA his attempts to scapegoat the organization for “Hatchet II”‘s problems aren’t surprising. And there’s no question the film would have made more money if it had gotten an R rating (I haven’t seen the film, so I can’t comment on whether or not it deserved one). But to suggest that there’s some sort of Star Chamber conspiracy demanding AMC get rid of “Hatchet II” is absolutely ludicrous, especially given the film’s low grosses and even lower per screen average (PSA) of just $775 a screen. When a massive success starts vanishing from theaters, you cry conspiracy. When an underperformer does, it’s an unfortunate but understandable business decision.

Some observers online cited the fact that AMC did not remove the R-rated horror film “Chain Letter” from its multiplexes (even though it had a lower PSA than “Hatchet II”) as further evidence of said conspiracy. But as John Campea, a writer for AMC’s Script to Screen blog, pointed out on his (currently very heated) Formspring page, “Chain Letter” had contracted with AMC for a “standard release” which guarantees at least a week’s run in theaters. “Hatchet II” did not.

There are lessons here. First: in situations like this, independent filmmakers should get a guaranteed run in writing whenever possible. But separate from that, and maybe most importantly, they need to choose their release date carefully. “Hatchet II” opened on October 1st during the busiest time of the year for horror films, against “Chain Letter,” another indie slasher movie, plus far bigger movies like “Case 39” and “Let Me In.” Plus they were all up against “The Social Network,” a film geared to the same young, male audience. In that sort of crowded marketplace you have to make yourself stand out. Being the “anti-censorship slasher” just didn’t cut it.

Which is a shame. George Lucas used to talk about how the transformation in the exhibition business brought about by blockbusters like “Star Wars” was good for independent filmmakers. He claimed that big multiplexes meant more screens, which meant more places to show independent films. This story proves, once and for all, that that’s simply not true. Companies like AMC support indie film only as far as audiences support them, and if they can make more money showing “The Social Network” on three screens instead of two, that’s what they’re going to do. They’re a business, not an arts advocacy group. And if all they get for their trouble when they do go out on a limb is low grosses followed by bad publicity and name-calling, why would they ever take a risk again?

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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