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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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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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