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India, coming to a theater near you.

India, coming to a theater near you. (photo)

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India’s Reliance Entertainment doesn’t just own a chunk of DreamWorks, they’re also now the 25th-largest movie theater operator in the U.S. Welcome to the globalized future! In the last 18 months, Reliance has snapped up 18 cinemas across the country; they control 181 screens.

Not all of the theaters are devoted to Bollywood movies; some mix them in with Hollywood product, others have none at all. But the goal is a chain of Indian-oriented cinemas. The Indian American community numbers more than 2.5 million, and members have proven to be happy to pay $12 for a ticket and — more enticingly — entry to theaters that serve as social meeting-places, with cafes serving mango juice and wishing their customers a happy Diwali.

It’s the social factor Reliance is banking on: there’s actually a surprising number of major theater chains already showing Bollywood films (barely advertising, with in-the-know viewers bringing themselves), but — as Phil Zacheretti, who manages the day-to-day specifics of “Big Cinemas,” the name of the theater chain subsidiaries, notes — “they don’t serve samosas.” (Honestly, I wouldn’t trust any of the big chains to make a decent samosa anyway, though I’d love it if they did.)

If the future is knowing your niche, then Big’s definitely on to something, particularly with specialized advertising designed to ruthlessly target the audience’s needs rather than scattershot mass-market ads: Western Union, for example, for patrons who want to send money back home.

Arthouse crowds should take note — as foreign film distribution in the US goes through a rough patch, Big Cinemas could accidentally pick up the slack. Their Niles, IL branch is experimenting with showing Russian, Polish, Korean and Mongolian movies. “There’s no reason we can’t do the same thing for other [ethnic] groups,” says Uday Kumar, who oversees Big Cinemas in North America.

Right now, for example, the Niles theater is showing “Old Partner”, a documentary about an 80-something Korean farmer who wants to be buried with his 40-year-old ox. It may not sound like an easy sell, but it’s the highest-grossing Korean independent film in history. Even if you’re not in the target ethnic group for screenings like that, they’d be worth tracking down.

[Photo: “Aadhavan,” Red Giant Movies, 2009, currently playing in a Big Cinema near you]

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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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