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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?


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


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…