What does “Not Screened for Critics” mean?

Posted on February 1, 2008 at 7:40 am

I hear there is some sort of sporting event going on this weekend. So it makes sense that studios decided it would not be a good time to release big-budget movies with hopes of big box office. If Sunday will be devoted to Superbowl XLII, much of the potential theater-going audience will be at home. I got that.

But I still don’t understand why that means that the studios did not let critics see three of the four new releases in time to write reviews. Movies not screened for critics are called “cold opens” because they open without any reviews, which means no exclamation-point-studded blurbs for ads. Jessica Alba has been everywhere promoting the thriller “The Eye,” but they did not show it to critics. There are ads all over television for the comedy “Strange Wilderness,” starring Steve Zahn, from Adam Sandler’s production company. But no blurbs from critics because no one has seen it. And what possible reason could there be to keep critics (except those from LA and NY) away from the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert film? Are they afraid we’ll give away the surprise ending? (She’s both! It’s a wig! And it’s in 3D!) Here is a clip of the concert film, which is more than critics got to see.

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Commentary

2 Replies to “What does “Not Screened for Critics” mean?”

  1. Lately, these cold openings have hit it fairly big at the box office (“Meet the Spartans” is the latest example). Which means we’ll see more cold openings in the weeks to come.

  2. One word. Teenagers. For the most part, they support movies, and for the most part, they don’t know what is a good movie and what isn’t. Also, prices have gone up a lot, so it doesn’t take much for a movie to pull in a few million bucks.
    If you ask me, there should be some type of law against “cold openings”. If a studio is dumb enough to take a script, then they should have to show it to critics, it’s that simple.

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