WTF: G.I. No?

Okay, so by now you’ve heard that Paramount has made the executive decision to not screen their new film G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA for critics. In fact, this little maneuver has made more news recently than the questionable quality of the film.

I know, I know… you’ve heard a lot about this already. But this is what’s pissing me off this week, especially considering that the studio has been heavily promoting the film in Columbus, Ohio, which is where I live and where I’m on both television and radio.

Hello dead horse, prepare to be beaten.

With the exception of a half-dozen anointed internet journalists (including AICN’s Head Geek and our illustrious Executive Editor Neil Miller) and a handful that have snuck into public screenings, Paramount has kept the Joe under strict security from critics’ prying eyes.

And what is their reasoning? According to an AP story, Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, explained this decision based on the overwhelming negative reviews for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: “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.”

What the flop?

There is no logic to this argument at all. Screening Transformers 2 for the press nationwide proved to work perfectly. Even though it got slammed by 80 percent of the critics, the movie was a monster success. Why is that?

Two reasons: 1) By offering a film for press screenings, you get the film covered. It gets ink (or phosphorus, or liquid crystal, or whatever the hell they put in iPhone screens). This raises awareness and saturates the market. 2) Most reviewers, even those who hated it, acknowledged that it was a full-blown Michael Bay movie and if you were looking for whip-ass action with giant robots, the film delivered that.

As a result of shamelessly putting Transformers 2 out there for people to see before and after the release date, the film is now approaching $400 million domestic, easily the biggest hit of the year.

So it’s not bad reviews that Paramount is worried about. It’s something else, at least that’s what the message becomes when a studio restricts a film from the press. It appears they want to hide something, and this reeks of desperation. I guess that’s what you can expect from a movie that has Channing Tatum as its anchor star.

Right now, G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA is rocking a whopping 91% on the Tomatometer, with only one negative review. How many people out there thinks that rating is going to hold up once the midnight shows start tomorrow? A show of hands? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

And how is Paramount curtailing the negative Twitter buzz, which comes from regular viewers like you (like this tweet from @sirflo: “Just watching G.I.Joe. Worst. Movie. Ever.”)?

What is Paramount going to do if G.I. Joe flops, or is a disappointment (which I cannot imagine it won’t be considering the reported $175 million budget, which would need a Transformers-sized B.O. haul to break even)? They can’t blame any box office failure on the press in this go-round.

If they were to follow the Transformers model, they should screen it for everyone everywhere, and pray for bad reviews. Then maybe they’d make $400 million as well.

I generally like Paramount and its releases, and they make some great films. But on this issue, like Matt Lauer, Paramount can suck it!

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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