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Will the “Twilight” stars ever find success outside of the franchise?

Will the “Twilight” stars ever find success outside of the franchise? (photo)

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Did you see “Twilight” star Taylor Lautner in “Abduction” last weekend? According to the box office numbers, odds are probably not. Box Office Mojo reports the film grossed below industry projections, earning just $10.9 million at over 3100 screens. That barely covers what it costs to hire Lautner these days. His fee ballooned to $7.5 million last year, making him the highest paid teenage actor in Hollywood at the time. So we have to wonder: is he worth it? Audiences — or at least one particular and very devoted audience — will come see him in “Twilight.” Are they going to come see him in anything else?

They didn’t come out in force for “Abduction,” though there are certainly some mitigating circumstances that could account for the film’s low grosses. It opened opposite another action movie, “Killer Elite,” which didn’t perform well at the box office either. It’s feasible that the two films split their collective audience and stole admissions from one another. Box Office Mojo says “the audience breakdown was 68 percent female and 56 percent under the age of 25,” a good indicator of Lautner’s audience: young women. Typically, that’s not the core action movie crowd.

Is that Lautner’s fault? Maybe; maybe it’s the fault of the people who cast the female-leaning Lautner in a male-leaning genre. Either way, “Abduction” is not an isolated incident. Ever since Lautner and co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson launched “Twilight” in 2008, the franchise has earned $789.8 million in the United States. In that same stretch of time, that trio has appeared in 9 other movies. Their total gross? $219.3 million. If we take out “Valentine’s Day”‘s $110.4 million, in which Lautner was just one of many stars, that’s $108.9 over 8 movies, a paltry average of $13.6 million per movie.

Again, we can find extenuation if we want to. A lot of these movies were little indies with littler marketing budgets. Others had adult subjects and themes that might not appeal to the “Twilight” crowd. A few had both, like “Little Ashes,” a gay romance in which Pattinson played famed surrealist Salvador Dalí. That one grossed just $480,000, but that’s not the biggest flop from the “Twilight” cast. Stewart has two flicks that failed to reach seven figure grosses: “The Yellow Handkerchief” ($318,000) and “Welcome to the Rileys” ($158,898).

There are reasonable excuses why Stewart, Pattinson, and Lautner haven’t had success outside “Twilight.” But there are also arguments to be made that say those excuses shouldn’t matter. The whole point of casting a movie star is to help bring people to the theater without spending money on marketing. Brad Pitt is his own marketing as the star of “Moneyball” — no coincidence then that the film’s poster just a simple, beautiful close-up of Pitt flashing that million dollar smile. The poster for “Abduction” was a picture of Lautner surfing down the side of a skyscraper (or something). That was all his die-hard female fans needed to know, but it was also all other folks needed to know to convince them to stay away.

That’s one of the curious aspects of the “Twilight” phenomenon: it’s one of the most widely disliked massively successful movie franchises in history. Each movie’s made more than the one before it, and each has drawn more derision from film writers than the one before it. The series is popular but divisive, and that could be a major problem for its stars as they move forward with their careers.

They could have larger problems that have nothing to do with “Twilight” too; this could be the twilight of movie stardom in general. We live in an age in which the films that get produced are dictated more by properties than movie stars. It’s a phenomenon we first identified and discussed on the old IFC News podcast about two years ago. Audiences are drawn to material and not necessarily to the actors appearing in that material. When the actors get too expensive, they’re just replaced; see Andrew Garfield subbing for Tobey Maguire in the upcoming “The Amazing Spider-Man.” There are still a few franchises rooted in star power — it’s impossible to imagine a “Pirates of the Caribbean” without Johnny Depp — but not many. Would “Transformers” crater without Shia LaBeouf? It certainly didn’t crater without Megan Fox; she was replaced for this summer’s “Dark of the Moon,” which went on to gross $351.9 domestically without her. That’s the second best total of 2011 behind only “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

Speaking of “Harry Potter,” we could be having this same conversation about that cast really soon.

Does a “Twilight” cast member’s name on a poster make you more or less likely to see the film? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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