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The megastore movie.

The megastore movie. (photo)

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UK megastore chain Tesco (basically the British Wal-Mart) has made a leap so obvious that it’s amazing no one got there sooner. They’ve decided that they’d like to get into the movie business, so they’re going to produce their own film, available “exclusively” (exciting!) at the chain.

To do this, they’ve hooked up with Amber Entertainment, a company formed by executives from the now-defunct New Line Cinema, who evidently kept their rolodexes intact. The plan is to produce movies from mega-selling authors whose books can be sold alongside the DVD. First up: a Jackie Collins movie (“Paris Connections”), starring Alain Delon’s son Anthony. In the future, the presumably bitter New Line execs will give “The Golden Compass” (the movie that basically sunk their company) a second try, as well as Judy Blume.

With the DVD market at least temporarily collapsing, you might wonder at the wisdom of this plan. But it does makes sense — Tesco can attempt to lure customers in for a book/DVD combo sale, plus they’re taking the once-semi-lucrative-niche that TV movies of this sort (where Collins belongs) used to occupy. Here in New York, the inescapable Duane Reade pharmacy chain has apparently partnered with Sony and WB to sell DVDs near the register for $10 a pop, jumbles of titles that suggest surreally juxtaposed double-features: “Center Stage” and “2046,” anyone? Tesco’s just taking the logic to the next level, producing in-house fodder at a no doubt deeply discounted prices.

01292010_compass.jpgIt’s worth noting that Tesco’s been fooling around with exclusive DVDs for a while — in the UK, they’re the only place to buy “Me And Orson Welles,” which is all kinds of grimly revealing about what it takes to sell a Richard Linklater movie these days. It’s likely these movies will be terrible but economical, priced for those who just have to see their favorite authors on-screen. (Though I suppose the revamped “The Golden Compass” will be its own kind of weird spectacle, with the New Line execs giving themselves another shot to give it right.)

You have to wonder why an American chain like Wal-Mart — which already sells a lot of well-known garbage — isn’t setting up to do the same. Tesco’s perception in the UK is more on the side of benevolent exasperation than the charges of sheer evil Wal-Mart tends to raise here, which is probably part of it. The many people who shop at Wal-Mart are eager to see whatever their movies would look like. And I suppose Wal-Mart’s notorious pragmatics would keep it from entering the DVD market at such a weird time. But still — I miss the days when Sunday night promised three separate lousy TV movies all hyped by their networks, and this is where they’ve gone to die.

At the very least, I expect “Paris Connections” will be be slightly better than the trailer for “The Stud,” Collins’ first on-screen effort. She had four movies made from her work in 1978-79, unbelievably. Then it was straight to TV:

[Photos: Tesco via Wikipedia; “The Golden Compass,” New Line Cinema, 2007]

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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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