Some movies, and almost all popcorn pictures, don’t need to be previewed for critics. They’re “brands” more than movies. They have a built-in constituency, and the only things do for that constituency is rile them up if some of us dare to speak truth-to-fanboy.
“Warcraft” sucks. “X-Men: Apocalypse” is a bore. “Transformers” are for trolls. Etc.
A movie like “The Da Vinci Code” may have its problems with critics, but the first rule is “Never show fear.” “Da Vinci was previewed at Cannes, and in theaters for critics all over America, at exactly the same time. We all said pretty much the same thing — “Ugh.” But no matter. Sony leveled the playing field, rolled out the red carpet and took a shot.
Did it hurt the movie? Not a whit.
But another message is sent when you’ve spent hundreds of millions on a movie and are supposedly marketing it to retrieve some of that investment. You’re scared of reviews. You know they aren’t going to be good. And, what the hey? Why spend money getting a beating you know is coming? How can that help?
I get the logic. But if “Warcraft’s” producers had the guts to show the movie pre-release, if every “Transformers” movie and every Michael Bay mishap is hurled at critics before the public release, why wouldn’t you critic screen your movie? You’re already test-screening it.
Twentieth Century Fox has been trying to blunt criticism by opening a lot of its blockbuster in Rupert Murdoch’s home country — Australia. If you own a lot of the media, maybe the first wave of reviews will be kinder. If the critics know what’s good for’em, eh?
“No previews, at all,” I was told. My sister-and-brother critics have been getting the same message. Unless somebody is lying, there won’t be previews of this one before it opens.
Protecting the surprises? Preventing spoilers? Or hiding a product they know is going to get killed? We’ll all have to wait for Thursday to find out.