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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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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.

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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

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