It’s nice to have the power of making up words such as Screenonomics. The definition and/or meaning is the process by which Hollywood studios decide what to screen for movie critics. Now we’re not talking about the occasional, “Let’s not screen G.I. Joe or Killers just to see what happens.” This pathetic lack of strategery (thanks George W. Bush) is nonsensical and clearly hasn’t worked as evident by the box office results of the above mentioned flicks. Plus, since the online world is all around us, the majority of critics can get a review up by noon on Friday by hitting up the numerous 9am screening on opening day.
The subject of this column, inspired by a social status update via critic extraordinaire Bill Gibron, is why the horror flicks are being blackballed by studios. It’s no coincidence that this column (my 500th for dampfang.com) is being written in August. Every year, certain studios unload a few horror titles toward the end of this month. Some are high profile properties such as the Rob Zombie revamped Halloween series (a review/article that still holds the record for most comments in my archive). This summer season closes out with Piranha 3D and The Last Exorcism. Piranha opens on the 20th and Exorcism the 27th.
Based on the screening schedule in Tampa as of today, neither of these flicks are going to be press screened. Why bloody not you ask? The illogical answer is that studios believe the niche audience will see these flicks either way. Apparently, their number-crunchers have concluded this will be enough to help make the title profitable at the box office. Logically, this isn’t sound by any means if one analyzes the actual numbers. Also consider the fact they (studios) toss every romantic-comedy and obscure foreign film with the same unimaginative story line down our throats. Are those results any different using this strategy?
I tend to get into discussions with other critics around late November and December. The time when FedEx and UPS are acting as my alarm clock in delivering award screeners from studios hoping to get my precious vote (still not sure why but no complaints here). The discussion revolves around being fair and watching all things in consideration before submitting ones vote. Unfortunately, some critics only go to see flicks they have an interest in. Hey, I could have easily skipped Standing Ovation and done something far more productive (playing in traffic or reading Lohan’s twitter) with the two hours of my life I can never get back. Yet I didn’t. One has to be loyal and fair to their craft. Same line of thought needs to be taken up by the studios. Just like comedy, action, drama, and romance, horror is a genre of film and should not be treated like Ringo Starr.
The one point I may concede on is some critics choose not to attend the horror press screenings. Which does skew the numbers on what the overall critic opinion is. As pointed out by Bill Gibron in 2007, far less critics attended or review horror screenings when compared to other genres released in that year. However, studios cannot hold future generations responsible for the irresponsibility of the veteran critics. In a perfect world, studios their regional reps need to weed out who is a working critic from the random drop-ins. Problem solved.
So whoever is making the decisions in LA, LA land regarding what flicks critics are allowed to “influence” in their reviews…Newsflash! Many of us give every title a fair shot. Who’s to say Piranha 3D isn’t award material yet Furry Vengeance should be given a shot with critics? What genius thought it would be a great idea to screen Cats & Dogs 2 thinking it would help? The solution is quite simple and of course I will use one of my many analogies. When Judging a beauty pageant, the judges must see all the contestants. One doesn’t hear someone say, “Hey, the judges do not need to see Miss Muslim because they have preconceived notions.” Not sure how high she would score in the swimsuit segment but you MUST give her a look to be fair. This thinking needs to be instilled once again in Hollywood or what’s the point of even investing in the genre. Hollywood wants critics to play fair (unbiased reviews), but Hollywood doesn’t want to. A tad childish on their part.
‘Screenonomics’ Noun.(used however the hell you want) – Coined by an unknown brilliant journalist 1. The process showing Hollywood studios really don’t care about the product they produce. 2. Investing in a product in which they hope the press will promote but will not let them experience. 3. UNFAIR!