Discuss: Do You Care That ‘Joe’ Isn’t Being Screened For Critics?


I realize that we’ve slowly been edging in more inside baseball onto the site, mostly because it’s received fairly well. I attribute that to our readers being just slightly smarter than the average movie goer and overwhelmingly more literate than some of the writers on this site. Present company included.

If this kind of thing bores you, I totally understand. It bores me most of the time, too. However, when it comes to film marketing (or marketing in general), I can’t help but be fascinated. I also can’t help but be fascinated when a core group of fellow critics cry foul against a film studio’s marketing plan.

We had all followed the mixed-to-bad buzz coming out for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, some of it showing up on FSR (although none of it as vile as Robert Fure’s focused rage against Deadpool being screwed up in Wolverine). Paramount was following it closely, too, and it all seemed to come to a head when a rumor surfaced that director Stephen Sommers had been locked out of the editing room and technically fired off the project. Apparently he wasn’t or something, but the message was clear: people had it out for the film. Even reactions to the trailers and some of the materials coming out were lackluster. At least, there was a lot of negativity coming from major Joe fans.

And then, the USA Today story dropped on every doorstep in every hotel in the country wherein Alex Billington from FirstShowing.net using site comments to make a claim about the film:

Every time I would write about it, the comments would fill up with people already saying ‘This looks like the worst movie of the year.’ “

So because of a self-fulfilling article claiming that G.I. Joe has bad buzz with a quote about how anonymous internet people think a movie they haven’t seen looks bad, Paramount chose to screen the film for a small group of critics out there. Our very own Neil Miller included.

But they aren’t showing it for all critics. It’s a shrewd strategy that seems to have paid off in tipping the scales a bit back in Joe‘s favor – one that is usually reserved for horror films and other money-makers that frankly don’t need any positive buzz to make their box office expectations.

Paramount is sending a message, though. In an interview with Variety, Vice Chair Rob Moore claimed:

G.I. Joe is a big, fun, summer event movie – one that we’ve seen audiences enjoy everywhere from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to Phoenix, Ariz. After the chasm we experienced with Transformers 2 between the response of audiences and critics, we chose to forgo opening-day print and broadcast reviews as a strategy to promote G.I. Joe. We want audiences to define this film.”

I can fully understand the trepidation moving forward after the massive disparity between critical and popular response to Paramount’s Transformers 2, even if that’s clearly not the real focus of why they are marketing Joe this way.

After all of the shouting that’s been happening in the echo chamber of this splendid and noble profession of film appreciation, I thought it was about time to ask film fans if they cared.

Did you know that it wasn’t being screened for critics? Does it even matter to you?

If you planned on seeing it before, are you less likely to now? If you didn’t plan on seeing it before, could positive critical reaction have changed your mind?

What do you think?

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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