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There’s No Shame In Being One of the Lowest Grossing Wide Releases of 2010

There’s No Shame In Being One of the Lowest Grossing Wide Releases of 2010 (photo)

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Over at Cinematical, Eric D. Snider has compiled a list of the lowest grossing wide releases of 2010. To be eligible, a film had to play on at least one thousand screens nationwide and, y’know, not make much money. The list includes its share of indisputable stinkers, including the heinous “Jonah Hex.” But a bunch of the movies are flops in financial terms only, deserved better than they got at the box office, and are worth your time on DVD now that all but one of them are available. They are:

12292010_splice1.jpg“Splice”
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
$17.0 million gross on 2,450 screens

Seventeen million dollars in nearly 2500 theaters is pretty bad for a summer blockbuster but it’s nothing to sneeze at for a quirky sci-fi indie. And that’s really what “Splice” was; though Warner Brothers released it in June in the middle of Dumb Movie Season, the film, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival (where it was acquired by Joel Silver and Warner Brothers), was loaded with smarts and packed with metaphors about parenting and filmmaking. To Warner’s credit, they didn’t try to cut the film or any of its weirdness to service a wider audience. To Warner’s discredit, they still sold the film to that wider audience as a straightforward monster movie, a large factor in “Splice”‘s D grade from audience pollsters CinemaScore. From a pure dollars and cents standpoint, I’m sure Warner Brothers considers “Splice” a modest failure. But since “Splice” was, amongst other things, one large metaphor about indie filmmakers struggling against the constraints of a system that values commerce over art, that feels like an appropriate outcome.

12302010_youth2.jpg“Youth In Revolt”
Directed by Miguel Arteta
$15.3 million gross on 1,873 screens

“Youth in Revolt” had at least three misfortunes: a January release date synonymous with garbage, a Michael Cera lead performance at a time when Cera backlash reached an all-time high, and competition from the trendier and more heavily promoted Cera feature “Scott Pilgrim Versus the World” (which, let’s face it, didn’t miss Snider’s list by all that much). All I heard from people familiar with the source material by C. D. Payne said that the movie wasn’t as good as the novel. I haven’t read the novel and I found the movie to be utterly charming, cleverly constructed, and beautifully photographed. And, ironically, while everyone on the Internet and his mother was getting on Michael Cera’s case about giving the same performance over and over, he provides “Youth in Revolt” with not one but two terrific characters: mousy Nick Twisp and his evil double Francois Dillinger. If anyone had seen this movie, it would have restored their faith in this unfairly maligned actor.

12302010_lmi1.jpg“Let Me In”
Directed by Matt Reeves
$12.1 million gross on 2,042 screens

The party line amongst “Let Me In” partisans was that the film it was based on, 2008’s “Let the Right One In,” was too culty and Swedish for a mainstream audience, and had already reached as many people as it ever would. The English language remake by “Cloverfield” director Matt Reeves could bring more people to this story. But as it turns out, if you’re too lazy to read English subtitles, you’re probably not the sort of person who’s interested in a morally murky horror film about the unsettling and unsettlingly heartwarming relationship between a very twisted little boy and a morose little vampire. That doesn’t mean “Let Me In” wasn’t worth watching, though. Everything good about the original was good about the remake, with the added bonus of Michael Giacchino’s incredibly moody score.

12302010_grubes1.jpg“MacGruber”
Directed by Jorma Taccone
$8.5 million gross on 2,551 screens

Snider points out in his piece that “MacGruber” is basically the worst grossing “Saturday Night Live” spinoff film of all time. But after “Blues Brothers” and “Wayne’s World,” “MacGruber” is basically the best “Saturday Night Live” spinoff ever made (damning with faint praise, I know). I would guess it flopped because people had a hard time imagining a good version of the sketch blown up to 90 minutes in length. But director Jorma Taccone and co-writer/star Will Forte thought the same thing and, instead made a dead-on and endearingly goofy sendup of ’80s action movies. Their aim was true but their timing was off; as “The Expendables” massive grosses proved, audiences were in the mood to re-embrace ’80s action movies cliches rather than see them torn to shreds. “MacGruber” was admittedly uneven (in that way, at least, it was very faithful to the original “Saturday Night Live” sketches) but its total inability to connect with moviegoers in a year with so few truly funny comedies is still a bit mystifying. If any flop on this list is guaranteed for cult status in ten years, it’s “MacGruber.”

What do a monster movie, a teen romantic comedy, a vampire remake, and a wacky spoof have in common? All of these movies were amongst the biggest risk takers of 2010. Vincenzo Natali could have made “Splice” less icky and more commercial. Matt Reeves could have softened the core relationship in “Let Me In.” Those sorts of changes would have almost certainly resulted in higher box office numbers but they definitely would have also resulted in less interesting movies. Instead, these directors stuck to their artistic guns and wound up on that list amongst souless calculated products like “Jonah Hex.” What a shame.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

E.coli-class-

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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via GIPHY

We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

via GIPHY

They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

via GIPHY

Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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