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Why exhibitors should be B-Side themselves.

Why exhibitors should be B-Side themselves. (photo)

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It would be nice to think that, should AMC and UK theaters go through with their planned boycott of “Alice in Wonderland,” there might be a few indie films that could fill the breach. Say some extra screens across the country for the French prison film “A Prophet”? Or maybe even “Frozen,” Adam Green’s ski lift horror flick whose distributor Anchor Bay is currently promising to supply any theater with the film so long as the manager requests it.

While eight theaters took the bait on that last offer on Friday — if you’re in Tennessee, consider yourself lucky — it’s a drop in the bucket when compared with the 3,000-plus screens that “Wonderland” is set to take over on March 5th, with the full force of Disney behind it. It’s also no wonder then that B-Side, a company that aimed to combine social networking and distribution, announced that they would close shop after five years — a year and a half after they started distributing their own films.

In Scott Macaulay’s excellent post-mortem on the company in Filmmaker magazine, president of distribution Paola Freccero acknowledges that having an unorthodox approach to releasing a film — one that involved having audiences request DVDs to hold their own screenings, in addition to simultaneous DVD and video on demand releases — didn’t do the company any favors in an industry attached to a business model based around the traditional theatrical release. (There’s a reason for this, according to Anne Thompson, who surmised a “robust theatrical release” was still the road to Damascus from the Sundance panel on distribution.)

However, B-Side shouldn’t have only been an attractive distributor for the arthouses and Alamo Drafthouses of the world, both of which are cited in Macaulay’s article for having embraced the company’s cross-platform releases of films like Doug Benson’s “Super High Me” and the Bill Withers doc “Still Bill.” Instead, it’s the major exhibitors like Regal and AMC who should’ve been interested in taking B-Side’s call, especially as the studios are talking about collapsing release windows.

Already abused by the way studios split profits, which rewards theater owners the longer a film plays (but has placed the emphasis on opening weekend since that’s when studios get a greater percentage of the door), exhibitors have already resorted to looking for alternative programming to what they’re handed from Warner Bros., Sony and Universal. If you’ve been to one of the big theater chains recently, you’ve probably been inundated with ads for the tenth anniversary of “The Boondock Saints” or a Black Eyed Peas concert, courtesy of NCM Fathom, a company specializing in one night only events that usually occur on those slow weekday evenings.

02232010_Superhighme.jpgThis is where B-Side was ahead of their time. Rather than using blunt force audience bombardment ads for such diverse entertainments as “Boondock Saints,” “Glenn Beck’s ‘The Christmas Sweater” and the International Women’s Day celebration “Half the Sky” while they’re settling in to see “Valentine’s Day,” B-Side had the ability to target and mobilize audiences through social networking. As Macaulay cites in his article, Benson’s “Super High Me” played in over 1000 venues, likely thanks to a coalition of the comedian’s fans and stoners, the latter crowd not necessarily known for their organizational skills. If a clever exhibitor could harness such passion for something other than opera, it might give them a legitimate alternative to the studio product they’ve come to resent, not to mention an alternative for audiences looking for something different themselves.

For many, the loss of B-Side will be felt most when one goes to look for one of their invaluable festival guides, but for many more who might not have even known the company at all, it’s an even bigger missed opportunity.

[Photos: “Still Bill,” B-Side, 2009; “Super High Me,” Screen Media Films/B-Side, 2008]

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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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