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Did Jennifer Aniston and Liam Neeson sink a distributor?

Did Jennifer Aniston and Liam Neeson sink a distributor? (photo)

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2009 has been a year in which home video companies attempted to make a splash in the theatrical market and wound up doing a belly flop instead. While there doesn’t seem to be any permanent damage to Anchor Bay’s business from theatrical non-starters like Ashton Kutcher’s “Spread” after years of making a mint on DVD re-releases of “The Evil Dead,” the venerable Image Entertainment was reported yesterday to be considering filing for bankruptcy.

The recent downturn in the DVD business surely has contributed to the situation, but this could also be because Image, long the distributor of the Criterion Collection and countless indie films on home video, decided to start distributing some of their films theatrically, beginning with the Jennifer Aniston-Steve Zahn odd duck “Management” (released via Samuel Goldwyn) and more recently, the Liam Neeson-Laura Linney thriller “The Other Man,” a movie with such a low-profile release this fall that it eluded our “Season of ‘Man’-ly Movies” chart.

If there’s an obvious trend here, it’s that recognizable stars (not of the Steven Seagal variety) are appearing more and more in movies that you first hear of while scrolling through Netflix or strolling through Blockbuster, even if the films received a theatrical release, a point that Alison Willmore and Matt Singer discuss in this week’s IFC News podcast.

That plays into the interest of these home video companies who are likely able to sweeten deals with a film’s producers by saving face for their stars by throwing in a limited theatrical release to avoid the stigma of having their latest film considered to be “direct-to-DVD.” Once the film gets to its final destination, it’s bound to stand out on store shelves because of some familiar floating heads. Justin Timberlake and Jeff Bridges in “The Open Road”? Yep, came out for one week back in August.

12162009_Spread.jpgBut even the smallest theatrical releases come at a cost, as Image has discovered the hard way, and the true losers seem to be the artists who are getting short thrift for taking some chances.

Image mismanaged “Management,” which is one of the year’s overlooked films, an unusually charming love story in the vein of “Something Wild” that eludes rather than reinforces its easy “quirky comedy” tag. Coincidentally, I rented “Spread” the other night on DVD and, like others, was pleasantly surprised by my appreciation of Kutcher’s thoroughly dislikable gigolo at the center of the Los Angeles wonderland created by “Young Adam” director David Mackenzie.

I fear for what will become of the recent Image acquisition “Don McKay,” a dark, twisty Thomas Haden Church thriller I saw when it premiered at Tribeca, scheduled to get a theatrical release in April. These films aren’t easy sells, and with fewer distributors out there, it’s possible more films may not get a release of any kind, let alone theatrical. Especially if Image Entertainment isn’t around in the home video business anymore.

[Photos: Steve Zahn and Jennifer Aniston in “Management,” Image Entertainment, 2009; Anne Heche and Ashton Kutcher in “Spread,” Anchor Bay Films, 2009]

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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…

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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.

via GIPHY

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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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