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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.


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…


A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

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.


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.