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Heirs to the box-office throne.

Heirs to the box-office throne. (photo)

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The LA Times has good news for us: this weekend, “Dear John” could knock “Avatar” from its number one spot on the top of the box office charts! If not, “Valentine’s Day” the weekend after will certainly do the trick. As an afterthought, they note that “If it is indeed the movie that pushes ‘Avatar’ out of first place, ‘Valentine’s Day’ will be the second straight New Line film to unseat a Cameron-directed smash — 12 years ago, ‘Titanic’ was finally dethroned by New Line’s ‘Lost in Space.’ “

This made me laugh. It has to be as useless a piece of seemingly significant trivia as all that NBA crap about two-game slumps and records in home stadiums against opposing teams going back to 1996 or whatever. Also, no one actually remembers “Lost In Space”; it was a big old flop most people didn’t see, a punchline from the moment it came out. But it fits: most of the movies that perform the seemingly “important” task of dethroning the champ are worthless.

For example: in 1982, the wide release of “E.T.” (number three domestic of all time, adjusted for inflation) was bumped off the top in its eighth week by “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” the dimly remembered Burt Reynolds-Dolly Parton musical. “E.T.” kept returning to the top though, being knocked off multiple times before resurfacing. And the movies that kicked it off? “Friday the 13th Part III,” “An Officer and a Gentleman” (twice), “Amityville II: The Possession.” That tells us a lot about what mainstream moviegoing in 1982, but it means nothing about the lasting impact of “E.T.”

02042010_broncobilly.jpgWant more? In 1980, “The Empire Strikes Back” was knocked from the top during its opening limited release by the unholy duo of “Bronco Billy” and the long-forgotten Dudley Moore comedy “Wholly Moses!” In wide release, it was dethroned by…”Smokey and the Bandit II.” “The Return of the Jedi” was first kicked off the number one spot by “Superman III.” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was knocked down by “Superman II” and “The Cannonball Run.” “Jurassic Park” went down under the body blows of “The Firm.” And so on.

There’s no harm in this kind of number-crunching and game-playing, certainly; it gives people something to write about. But it’s completely irrelevant that “Avatar” won’t beat “Titanic” ‘s 15-weeks-straight number one status. That kind of information just doesn’t matter, except to extrapolate what crappy filmgoing was like in a given year aside from the highlights we’re all already familiar with.

[Photos: “Dear John,” Sony Pictures Releasing, 2010; “Bronco Billy,” 1980, Warner Bros]

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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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