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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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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.