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Will the “Twilight” stars ever find success outside of the franchise?

Will the “Twilight” stars ever find success outside of the franchise? (photo)

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Did you see “Twilight” star Taylor Lautner in “Abduction” last weekend? According to the box office numbers, odds are probably not. Box Office Mojo reports the film grossed below industry projections, earning just $10.9 million at over 3100 screens. That barely covers what it costs to hire Lautner these days. His fee ballooned to $7.5 million last year, making him the highest paid teenage actor in Hollywood at the time. So we have to wonder: is he worth it? Audiences — or at least one particular and very devoted audience — will come see him in “Twilight.” Are they going to come see him in anything else?

They didn’t come out in force for “Abduction,” though there are certainly some mitigating circumstances that could account for the film’s low grosses. It opened opposite another action movie, “Killer Elite,” which didn’t perform well at the box office either. It’s feasible that the two films split their collective audience and stole admissions from one another. Box Office Mojo says “the audience breakdown was 68 percent female and 56 percent under the age of 25,” a good indicator of Lautner’s audience: young women. Typically, that’s not the core action movie crowd.

Is that Lautner’s fault? Maybe; maybe it’s the fault of the people who cast the female-leaning Lautner in a male-leaning genre. Either way, “Abduction” is not an isolated incident. Ever since Lautner and co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson launched “Twilight” in 2008, the franchise has earned $789.8 million in the United States. In that same stretch of time, that trio has appeared in 9 other movies. Their total gross? $219.3 million. If we take out “Valentine’s Day”‘s $110.4 million, in which Lautner was just one of many stars, that’s $108.9 over 8 movies, a paltry average of $13.6 million per movie.

Again, we can find extenuation if we want to. A lot of these movies were little indies with littler marketing budgets. Others had adult subjects and themes that might not appeal to the “Twilight” crowd. A few had both, like “Little Ashes,” a gay romance in which Pattinson played famed surrealist Salvador Dalí. That one grossed just $480,000, but that’s not the biggest flop from the “Twilight” cast. Stewart has two flicks that failed to reach seven figure grosses: “The Yellow Handkerchief” ($318,000) and “Welcome to the Rileys” ($158,898).

There are reasonable excuses why Stewart, Pattinson, and Lautner haven’t had success outside “Twilight.” But there are also arguments to be made that say those excuses shouldn’t matter. The whole point of casting a movie star is to help bring people to the theater without spending money on marketing. Brad Pitt is his own marketing as the star of “Moneyball” — no coincidence then that the film’s poster just a simple, beautiful close-up of Pitt flashing that million dollar smile. The poster for “Abduction” was a picture of Lautner surfing down the side of a skyscraper (or something). That was all his die-hard female fans needed to know, but it was also all other folks needed to know to convince them to stay away.

That’s one of the curious aspects of the “Twilight” phenomenon: it’s one of the most widely disliked massively successful movie franchises in history. Each movie’s made more than the one before it, and each has drawn more derision from film writers than the one before it. The series is popular but divisive, and that could be a major problem for its stars as they move forward with their careers.

They could have larger problems that have nothing to do with “Twilight” too; this could be the twilight of movie stardom in general. We live in an age in which the films that get produced are dictated more by properties than movie stars. It’s a phenomenon we first identified and discussed on the old IFC News podcast about two years ago. Audiences are drawn to material and not necessarily to the actors appearing in that material. When the actors get too expensive, they’re just replaced; see Andrew Garfield subbing for Tobey Maguire in the upcoming “The Amazing Spider-Man.” There are still a few franchises rooted in star power — it’s impossible to imagine a “Pirates of the Caribbean” without Johnny Depp — but not many. Would “Transformers” crater without Shia LaBeouf? It certainly didn’t crater without Megan Fox; she was replaced for this summer’s “Dark of the Moon,” which went on to gross $351.9 domestically without her. That’s the second best total of 2011 behind only “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

Speaking of “Harry Potter,” we could be having this same conversation about that cast really soon.

Does a “Twilight” cast member’s name on a poster make you more or less likely to see the film? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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