Universal Studios has just taken the film industry’s first step towards the edge of a cliff for film critics.
In the wake of the onslaught of negative reviews prior to the opening of Fifty Shades of Grey in February 2015. Universal Pictures has now on its sequel decided to cut the cord with critics on Fifty Shades Darker. They have made sure that the film is not available to be reviewed by critics until release day. Even then that’s only then if critics attend their local theaters as paying members of the public, restricting press access to that of an online commenter.
NBC Universal had previously attempted to dissuade Tastic Film Magazine assuring us that press were being invited to screenings. However, when we dug a little deeper it seemed that the leading US media outlets we had reached out too hadn’t been invited.
We have reached out to NBC Universal for comment three times, they have not yet responded.
It’s rare and almost unheard of for a major Hollywood studio to shut the door for critics. Critics offer lots of different opinions on films from the craft and the audience’s perspective to the political ramifications and much more. Now in this new age of social media, it seems that for this blockbuster sequel the studio has decided they don’t need critics. Presumably, since they can predict which way the wind of opinion will blow on their film. However, this method is excluding a part of Holywood culture to share and debate films through reviews that had been accepted almost unanimously till now.
For a studio that is releasing fifteen prominent films domestically in 2017, this is a dangerous precedent to set.
Reviews can open the average cinema goers eyes to a director’s intention even where a film may falter and to give audiences an opinion they might not have seen themselves. Critics can publicly on a stage disagree with each other on a film and at the same time make audiences more knowledgeable about film. Press screenings might be a small slice of a studio’s marketing budget the cost however to everyone is a lot higher if they don’t allow critics the opportunity to form and share opinions. Leaving the free media critics offer on the table because you can afford to loose it is the beginning of a commercially incentivised dark road for Hollywood.
A comment on behalf of Tastic Film Magazine “This action taken by Universal Pictures makes us here at Tastic Film Magazine immensely worried about the future of the movie industry. If we don’t listen to anyone because we thought we already knew what they were going to say. That’s when preconceptions become the meal of the day and that’s bad news for everyone in the film industry including everyday audiences.“