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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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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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