Why do some movies open with no reviews? Do they do that on purpose because the movie really stinks?

By: Ramonda, St. Louis

A.B. Replies: In a word, yes. However, for the next several paragraphs, I shall bow to the movie studios and print what they want you to hear--things about marketing strategies, budgets and what have you.

Studios say there are several reasons, aside from ass-crappiness, films don't screen for critics before their theatrical releases. Every movie projector in California, from Santa Monica through San Bernardino and up into Bakersfield, may be broken, for example. Or the studio just may not be in a screening mood.

"First of all," one major-studio publicist tells this B!tch, "it is the studio's prerogative to screen a film prior to release."

Well, la-di-da. That it is.

"Sometimes," the publicist adds, "key elements and plot points are 'spoiled' in reviews, so it is detrimental for the potential moviegoer to read the story before he or she has the discovery experience in the theater."

This B!tch doesn't buy it. Last year's A History of Violence got the snot reviewed out of it, and most critics behaved themselves and didn't spoil the killer twists.

Additionally, the publicist says, studios may forego screenings to save money, especially if they think audiences are ready to buy tickets no matter what.

That said, our studio source admits that "sometimes" they open a movie without prescreening for the most obvious of reasons: the aforementioned ass-crappiness; mediocrity in filmmaking; artistic patchiness, if you will. A raw insult to our ol' pea brain--like, oh, I don't know, Milla Jovovich trying to use a sword and talk at the same time.

"When a studio knows it has a clunker on its hands, it will try to sneak the movie into theaters without showing it to critics," übercritic Richard Roeper tells this B!tch. "On Ebert & Roeper, instead of giving a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down, we sometimes give such films the Wagging Finger of Shame."

Consider some of the films that have opened without advance screenings for critics so far this year--Date Movie, Madea's Family Reunion, Ultraviolet, Underworld: Evolution, Grandma's Boy, Big Momma's House 2, Doogal and BloodRayne. (Respective E! Online ratings? D, C-, C-, C, C, D, C+ and F.)

"This [no-screener] policy is really an insult to moviegoers," Roeper continues. "[The studios] don't think you're sophisticated enough to figure out that if a movie isn't shown to critics, it's a stinker."

That's fine, actually, as long as the critics are sophisticated enough to warn us about such things. (At E! Online, our crack critics buy tickets to unscreened flicks opening day and set the review up right damn quick.) And they do--lord love 'em and the superwide Dockers that caress their doughy buttocks.

"Paramount Pictures refused to show Aeon Flux to critics before the film opened in theaters," critic Dann Gire quipped in the Arlington Heights Daily Herald last year. "Now we know why, don't we?"

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