Quantcast
subscriber help

artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: ‘Killers’ not screening for critics; how long before nothing screens for critics?

It’s so common these days that I’ve stopped thinking about it as unusual: Lots of movies simply are not screened for critics before they open. (I’ve even stopped bothering to keep a list of these movies, which I did last year and started this year before it just got too depressing.) So I didn’t think much about it when my Lionsgate rep told me that Killers, the dire-looking “comedy” starring Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher, would get only a “courtesy” screening on the morning it opens in multiplexes.

But then again, I didn’t ask for any clarification. Christy Lemire of the Associated Press did, and this is what she heard in response from Lionsgate:

We want to capitalize on the revolution in social media by letting audiences and critics define this film concurrently. In today’s socially connected marketplace, we all have the ability to share feedback instantly around the world. In keeping with this spirit, Lionsgate and the filmmakers want to give the opportunity to moviegoing audiences and critics alike to see “Killers” simultaneously, and share their thoughts in the medium of their choosing. We felt that this sense of immediacy could be a real asset in the marketing of “Killers.”

Patrick Goldstein at The Big Picture helpfully translates:

Sorry guys, but we know our movie is a dog. We’re not gonna let you see it a minute before the first sucker who plunks down his $10. We know that as soon as he gets out of the theater, he’ll be tweeting about what a stinker he just saw.

So, Killers — which Lemire reports cost $70 million to produce, which is a lot for Lionsgate, which generally sticks to cheap-to-make Saw and Tyler Perry movies — is not screening for critics. How long before nothing screens for critics?

Not that I think not screening works to hide a stinker: everyone knows now what it means when there are no reviews up on opening day. But when did Hollywood ever act rationally?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/flick/public_html/wptest/wp-content/themes/FlickFilosopher/loop-single.php on line 106
  • Nate

    I doubt we’ll ever come to a point where nothing is screened for critics. Indie films pretty much live or die on them, and as far as I know no Oscar contender has denied critic screenings.

  • I agree with Nate… it seems unlikely we’ll get to a point where no films screen for critics, because the good ones really benefit from the advanced word-of-mouth that criticism generates.

  • funWithHeadlines

    We want to capitalize on the revolution in social media by letting audiences and critics define this film concurrently. In today’s socially connected marketplace, we all have the ability to share feedback instantly around the world.

    So the very next time Lionsgate screens a movie for critics only, throw this back in their face and ask them if this means they didn’t want to capitalize on the revolution in social media for this other film?

    That’s the way to catch liars: keep track of what they say.

  • Keith

    Maryann may be right. Between the rise in social networking and the economic crunch, I could see screenings becoming a thing of the past. They do take effort and cost money to arrange. People are going to find out quick enough that a movie is either good, decent or woof through their social networks. Since “not screened” is pretty much a sign of the dog, they may actually increase initial viewership by doing away with screenings.

  • doa766

    maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if all critics had to pay to see what they review

    and I mean that it might be positive for the quality of their work and the final accuracy of reviews as a whole or the tomatometer, obviously it would be bad for them

    that way average movies that are only amusing enough for a rent (or to watch on cable because there’s nothing else on) would get a lot less positive reviews, and only stuff good enough for people to actually go out and spend time and money on would get positive reviews

    I know that once I started buying DVDs/blu rays/videogames with my money and not money given to me by my parents I became a lot more discerning about quality, but that’s just me

  • Nate

    and I mean that it might be positive for the quality of their work and the final accuracy of reviews as a whole or the tomatometer

    Would it? I actually think critics would be more stressed to find something positive about the movie they just watched if they had to pay to see it. I know I don’t like to think I wasted my money.

  • Ogami Itto

    Consider not having to sit through “Killers” a blessing, MAJ. I can’t remember liking Katherine Heigl or Ashton Kutcher in anything, and this movie doesn’t seem like it would change anyone’s opinion of either the actors’ talents or their taste in scripts.

  • misterb

    While I agree with Patrick Goldstein that Lionsgate’s message is transparently self-serving, they have a point. Going forward, the idea of a movie “opening” is bound to change. Any critic worth her salt is busy re-inventing herself to take advantage of the conversation between critic/blogger and those who blog on other subjects.
    As an old guy, I rarely watch movies when they “open” but enjoy them in my living room on HD. So i don’t care if you blog about it 6 months to a year before I watch it. In fact, I’d be happier if there were an active conversation when it came out on the Internet or cable(legally!)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    …the final accuracy of reviews…

    Sigh… have we learned nothing?

  • doa766

    it seems that what I wrote is too complicated for some people, so let me put it another way:

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would NOT have a 77% positive tomatometer if all critics that make up that percentage had to pay to see it

  • MaryAnn

    Consider not having to sit through “Killers” a blessing, MAJ.

    Oh, I’ll go to a courtesy screening on the morning of opening day. :->

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would NOT have a 77% positive tomatometer if all critics that make up that percentage had to pay to see it

    I don’t see how critics paying for screenings would make their reviews more “accurate,” whatever that means.

    If critics have to wait till a film opens and pay to see a film, isn’t it more likely that only those who are predisposed to like a film will be those who will see it on opening day?

    I can promise you that, all other things being equal, I wouldn’t be able to review anywhere near the number of movies I currently review if I had to pay to see them after they open.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    doa, if you had your way, Crystal Skull, like every movie on the RT, would see its Tomatometer rating go up by between 5 and 20 points, but its review count drop by 40 to 70%. Just like you when you stopped getting an allowance, these critics aren’t going to waste their (severely limited) money on reviewing movies they suspect they’re just going to hate.

    And just to reiterate: a film review is the subjective opinion of one reviewer. It is no more “accurate” for me to say “Robin Hood was boring and pointless” (which it was) than for me to say “filet mignon is bland and tasteless” (which it is).

Pin It on Pinterest