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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.