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Bomb Squad: Why Did “Scary Movie 5” Tank?

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Welcome to “Bomb Squad,” a recurring column that takes a closer look at a movie that tanked at the box office and tries to figure out what happened.

The first four installments of the “Scary Movie” series brought in combined more than $800 million worldwide. The latest sequel, “Scary Movie 5,” won’t add a lot more to that tally, collecting a disappointing $14.2 million in its first weekend. Who should we blame for this comedy’s commercial nosedive? Let’s take a look at some possible theories and then come up with our verdict…

Theory No. 1: Nobody cares about the “Scary Movie” franchise anymore.

The first “Scary Movie” came out 13 years ago, becoming one of that year’s Top 10 grossing films. Along the way, the series helped revitalize the spoof genre at the box office — “Scary Movie” co-writers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have gone on to make the low-budget hits “Epic Movie” and “Meet the Spartans” — but these films haven’t cast such a large shadow over the landscape that audiences felt like they couldn’t see other jokey, juvenile pop-culture satires before they checked out the latest “Scary Movie” sequel. Plus, the seven years between “Scary Movie 4” and “Scary Movie 5” didn’t make viewers realize how much they missed the franchise. They just went ahead and saw other movies like it.

Theory No. 2: “A Haunted House” stole their mojo.

“Scary Movie” was the brainchild of the Wayans family — specifically Keenan Ivory, Shawn and Marlon. By the time of “Scary Movie 3,” most of the original creators had moved on, but it’s worth noting that Marlon Wayans returned to the horror-mocking genre with this year’s “A Haunted House,” which took aim at the “Paranormal Activity” franchise. Despite horrendous reviews and very little advance hype, “A Haunted House” was a modest hit during the dregs of January. Did viewers feel like they could skip “Scary Movie 5” after watching “A Haunted House”? It’s entirely possible.

Theory No. 3: Nobody from the old “Scary Movie” films bothered showing up for this one.

Beyond the absence of the Wayans, “Scary Movie 5” was also perhaps hurt by the fact that none of the recognizable stars of the earlier movies signed up for this new sequel. That meant no Anna Faris or Regina Hall, the real mainstays of this franchise. Sure, “Scary Movie” veterans Simon Rex and Charlie Sheen were in the new movie, but you couldn’t shake the feeling that the producers were hoping audiences would check out “Scary Movie 5” mostly because it was another “Scary Movie” movie.

Theory No. 4: Even the stunt casting was uninspired.

The “Scary Movie” series has never relied on strong reviews, which is good because they never get any. Instead, the movies have tried to milk positive word-of-mouth, built in part on the films’ use of oddball or eyebrow-raising casting choices. They’ll bring in Carmen Electra or Dr. Phil or Shaq just for the total randomness of it, but “Scary Movie 5” struck out by banking on viewers’ interest in seeing Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan do a very unfunny parody of their tabloid lives as part of a “Paranormal Activity” sendup. The stunt casting didn’t seem particularly “shocking” or inspired, and so it couldn’t do much to generate buzz for the film’s release.

The Verdict

It makes little sense to blame the drab box office of “Scary Movie 5” on its lack of artistic quality. Every movie in this series has been hit-or-miss, and yet three of the five grossed more than $40 million in their opening weekend, each of those earning more than $90 million during their U.S. run. No, it seems like “Scary Movie 5” misfired because it failed to get fans sufficiently excited for the franchise’s return after being gone so long from theaters. With “A Haunted House” (and even “Movie 43”) already out this year, we’ve had plenty of spoof and/or sketch-based comedy films in recent months. The producers probably assumed that their brand was strong enough that viewers would accept no substitute. As the so-so grosses suggest, that’s no longer a wise assumption to make.

You can follow Tim Grierson on Twitter.

Did you see “Scary Movie 5” this past weekend? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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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.