Studios are notorious for dumping their horror movies and teen pics and lowbrow gross-out comedies into theaters without advance screenings; it happens all the time, and the trend's increasing exponentially with filler, fluff and critical cannon fodder such as The Benchwarmers, Silent Hill, Scary Movie 4 (which screens tonight), Larry the Cable Guy, Phat Girlz, Stay Alive, Ultraviolet, Underworld Evolution, Madea's Family Reunion and When a Stranger Calls all arriving without advance screenings in recent weeks.
But this is different. This is Fox forcing millions of readers to look elsewhere for their film criticism. By scheduling the screening specifically to keep weekly critics out, this is Fox keeping weekly film critics from doing our jobs, while allowing our daily colleagues easy access into the front door. This is Fox giving preferential treatment to critics the studios perceive as being "kinder to studio movies," as one publicist told me years ago, when a different studio tried this same thing. (I know a few daily critics who would rightly take offense at that characterization, and I know some who fit the description like a post-office "wanted" poster.) This is Fox telling weekly newspapers, and our readers, to fuck off. --Robert Wilonsky