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No Country For Foreign Blockbusters

No Country For Foreign Blockbusters (photo)

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Even though it’s made $100 million in the rest of the world and is based on a global bestseller, it took months for Swedish murder mystery “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” to find a U.S. distributor. The film was finally picked up earlier this month by Music Box Films, known for previously saving the French crowdpleaser “Tell No One” after other distributors passed in fear of poor returns.

In America, with few exceptions, the fact that a film is subtitled means it’s destined for the arthouse. Populist entertainment — action, romantic comedies, thrillers — has struggled to find a place and an audience. Like most blockbusters, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is guaranteed a sequel — it’s adapted from the first installment of the “Millenium” trilogy, written before author Stieg Larsson passed away in 2004. As Anne Thompson reported, the only reason an American remake hasn’t been set into motion already is because Larsson had no will, leaving his family in a legal tussle with his common-law wife.

Still, the massive international success of “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and the upcoming release of a truncated version of John Woo’s epic “Red Cliff,” which has been doing gangbusters overseas in its original two-film incarnation, got us to thinking about some of the biggest blockbusters that haven’t washed up on our shores (unless you have a region-free DVD player). Here are a few, including their trailers:

Hayao Miyazaki still rules the roost in Japan, where the legendary animator’s “Spirited Away” remains the biggest box office hit of all time with $285 million. But the biggest non-animated hit of recent years has been “Bayside Shakedown 2,” the second in a series of spinoffs from a popular cop show that aired on Fuji Television during the late ’90s. In 2003, “Shakedown 2” shook down willing audiences to the tune of approximately $160 million, not to mention the countless yen taken in by tie-in deals with instant noodle companies and Toshiba. “Bayside Shakedown 3” is in the works.

American audiences got their first real taste of loose-limbed and quick-witted comedian Dany Boon in the 2006 double dose of Patrice Leconte’s “My Best Friend” and Francis Veber’s “The Valet.” But there’s still no way to see Boon’s own effort as a writer/director, 2008’s “Welcome to the Sticks,” a comedy about a postal worker whose attempts at lobbying to relocate to more desirable Cote D’Azur outpost results in being dispatched to the rural town of Bergues. Despite its $192 million in domestic ticket sales, distributors here have balked at the French film’s distinctly Gallic sense of humor. That hasn’t stopped Will Smith’s production company from buying the rights to produce an American remake for Warner Bros. Meanwhile, Boon might raise his international profile with a winning turn in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Micmacs.”

The tough Teuonic actor Til Schweiger has flirted with international stardom, with roles in American action films like “King Arthur” and of course, as Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz in “Inglourious Basterds,” between gigs in Deutschland. But his biggest success came when he directed himself in the 2007 romantic comedy “Keinohrhasen” (“Rabbit Without Ears”), a surprise smash that took in nearly $74 million locally and has already prompted a sequel scheduled to be released later this year. Schweiger plays Ludo Decker, a tabloid reporter whose exploits at a wedding party land him 300 hours of community service, which he spends in the service of a daycare center that’s run by a woman (Nora Tschirner) he once tormented as a youth. Although the film won over audiences, not to mention several awards, the fact remains that American audiences are still less familiar with Schweiger than the guest of honor at the film’s inciting incident, heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko.

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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…

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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.

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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…


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.


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).


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.


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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