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Tuesday 3 July 2012, 15:54

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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After an advance screening of The Sweeney recently a national newspaper published their review early - which annoyed the distributors greatly. Do you think it's OK to report films months before they are out or should critics wait until release?

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    Comment number 1.

    I have no problem waiting for a review - it's frustrating to hear a full review without being able to see it myself. As you say, too early and it can also kill the hype. I'm a fan of the first response reviews, though!

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    Comment number 2.

    I think any review is useful, no matter when it's filed. On the one hand, long-range reviews can build up the buzz and the sense of anticipation for a movie - I hadn't heard of Killer Joe, for example, until you did you stumbled out of the screening and reviewed it on this site, but after that I was looking forward to it (and it didn't let me down).

    In a way, that's the whole reason that festivals like Cannes, Edniburgh etc exist at all - to drum up early buzz, and create a sense of anticipation. Early reviews do the same thing, and if anything, they should be encouraged.

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    Comment number 3.

    Since the mid 90s where movie sites, and movie fans have been able to express their opinions on certain movies on the internet, a critics opinion has become irrelevant.

    I'm still surprised film critics such as yourself still have jobs. Yes you're fun to listen too, but I don't take any notice of your opinion, because the most of the time you're wrong, even though you claim to be right.

    A lot of the times when you review a film, you say a certain element is unique, or new, we the audience have most likely have seen something similar on a US television series months, or years before. As you don't want US television shows, only movies, your reviews do come off as out of touch.

    Regardless of whether a movie is reviewed months in advanced, or a few days in advanced, really doesn't matter, because a critics opinion is yesterdays news, the audience will see it regardless, The Transformers series is a classic example, and the same will go for The Sweeney.

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    Comment number 4.

    Personally I don't read reviews until after I've seen the movie so generally it doesn't affect me. That being said...

    What's the point then in previewing the film so far in advance if its not for a festival? It's their own fault. Do the screening a couple of weeks before release or put an embargo on it if you are previewing it that early. If the studio don't do either of those things then don't be surprised when a film review comes out early. With film reviewing, especially for websites, it benefits sites as well and if your site has a review up first your likely to get more hits and stick out.

    In this case the studio has no right to be angry at all.

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    Comment number 5.

    Since I don't have easy access to the cinema all reviews are months before I see the film on DVD or even years before I see it on television. Those reviews are still interesting and alert me to films that are worth seeing when they become available. The reviews that matter most aren't the big releases but the smaller, often more interesting, films that might go unnoticed without a good review.

    I can see the distributor's point of view though the more it is mentioned in the days running up to release the more people will be thinking of it when deciding what to see.

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    Comment number 6.

    Would the distributor's felt the same way if the film had been given 5 stars and not 1 i wonder..

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    Comment number 7.

    If the movie is screened then its fair game to talk about it. However, there's a difference between a review and a criticism, and personally I'm more interested in a crit than a review (although I'd read / listen to a crit after seeing a movie, in order to think more about the ideas expressed etc.).

    I doubt they'd be complaining if the reviews had all been gushing...

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 9.

    Too far in advance makes no sense for me. If the film's been shown at Cannes for example, I'd still look out for a review when it's finally released here. And if distributors don't want it reviewed at that point, why show it so early?

    *Really* annoying though is when a film makes it into so many critics' top 5 of 2011 because they've already seen it earlier in the year (ie The Artist), yet it didn't get to a cinema near me until 2012. And I live in Manchester.

    Now that's really unfair.

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    Comment number 10.

    Why are you writing the review? That's the question to answer if you need to know when to publish.

    If you want to be useful to your audience, then publish on or just before opening day.

    If, however, you want to be useful to your advertisers by grabbing lots of internet hits from eager fanboys, publish as soon as you can. Sooner, if (like Variety or several national newspapers) you think you're big enough the studio daren't punish you for breaking your NDA.

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    Comment number 11.

    I have found recently that reading reviews could possibly taint my judgement before even going into a film. Therefore I try my best to catch them after I've enjoyed the film myself as I feel that merely just a star rating can sometimes influence ones opinion of a movie.

    This was one of the reasons why I tried to avoid the Prometheus reviews as I didn't want to take another's opinion before having my own (even though I did actually enjoy it). I recently went into a screening of The Amazing Spiderman before any reviews had been published therefore I was able to enjoy it without having prior expectations.

    The same coming up with The Dark Knight Rises, hopefully i'll be able to avoid any reviews/spoilers in the build up to it but I doubt that is going to happen!

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    Comment number 12.

    I don't agree with Stuart Yates, first off, he may not appreciate critics (not sure what he was doing on this webpage then?) but plenty of people do. The mass of online film bloggers may contain some good writers but there is no quality control; there is just a huge volume of comment. There is still a role for well informed, professional critics who write or broadcast with entertaining and insightful material. Of course there aren't many left in actual jobs but that's a different matter!

    I think the Guardian's review was not really that useful as the film is not out for months and, more importantly, audiences were not exactly falling over themselves for a remake of The Sweeney!

    There is always a scramble to get the first reviews out there but to be honest, a well considered review is probably worth more.

    Anything that distances critics and writers away from the PR merry-go-round machine is good news - the whole embargo situation is an interesting topic for sure...

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    Comment number 13.

    I've got to admit that I prefer my reviews close to the release date simply because I'll forget about a film if there is too big a gap between reading about it and me going to watch it.

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    Comment number 14.

    I have no problem with people REVIEWING a film 3 monthes in advance. It doesnt matter when the film is reviewed, it will still have the same review.

    The problem with Prometheus was not an early review, it was the fact that we had been given so much information, trailers, teaser trailers, viral campaigns with David and screen shots and cast interviews... it just watered down the whole expirence. Yet studios are continuing to do this: Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper etc

    What is wrong with have one, maybe two trailers, and let your audience get excited the old fashion way.

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    Comment number 15.

    Better early than late. Nothing worse to me than seeing the film and then getting reviews afterwards.

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    Comment number 16.

    I personally think that reviews should be published the same week when the film is released, because at the end of the day reviews are, at times, generally seen as the deciding factor whether or not to see the movie in question.

    Film festivals and preview screenings put paid to this idea. Even at a preview screening where a film can be in its rough stage, critics and audiences alike are already posting their opinion on an unfinished product which I personally find redundant, unethical and, in regards to Prometheus, annoying. Despite my admiration for the film, all the hype and build up annoyed me and I personally think all this hype can actually put you off the film before you even see it.

    However at the end of the day, who bears the blame for such a practice; the critics or the distributors/producers? One such example is Apocalypse Now, where Francis Coppola previewed his film twice in the U.S. before submitting a work in progress to the Cannes Film Festival. At the first two preview screenings the film was savaged by the critics, whom Coppola did not invite. It played at Cannes it was praised and eventually won the Palme D'Or, and also gave a chance for Coppola to vent off his disgust at the media who tried to ruin the film. But at the end whose fault was it that the film started off with a bad stigma; the critics, or Coppola himself?

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    Comment number 17.

    In the case of arthouse house films it's anyones guess as to when or if it will turn up at your local cinema, an advance review would at least tell me to keep an eye out. Earlier this year Outside Bet played for a week at my local Vue but i didn't take much notice as it wasn't reviewed until a week later. Last year i saw Sleeping Beauty a week before Mark reviewed it, as it turned out neither of us had anything good to say about it, which is probably why the public got it a week early.

    Although i liked Prometheus the reason so many hated it wasn't because it failed to live up to the hype but because it was a mess.

    I have just gotten in from seeing Killer Joe, having anticipated it ever since Mark staggered out of the preview, shocked and bleary eyed, all those months back. His reaction to "that scene" meant i envisaged something more extreme but i didn't realise Friedkin had made such funny film, really enjoyed it and i even had fried chicken afterwards. Of course Mrs Friedkin famously hated Cruising so she had better avoid Killer Joe altogether.

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    Comment number 18.

    Personally i don't mind hearing a review of a film months in advance - this obviously doesn't apply to a lot of the major blockbusters though as many aren't even completed till a few weeks before release, but the question one should be asking, and there may be a good answer to this? why was The Sweeney screened this far in advance by the distributors anyway? If they were disgruntled to find a review of it in a newspaper then why bother showing it now? I think for many average filmgoers they will only want to hear a review for a new release as it will be fresh in their mind to make a decision whether they want to see it over the next week or two. If you review a film so far in advance though i think the average multiplex punter will have probably have forgotten about it come the films actual release date.. One other thing that should be mentioned though is that sometimes films screened so far in advance can still be a work in progress with fx shots (if applicable),sound mix,editing,score etc all unfinished or still being tweaked,if this was the case then i wouldn't want to hear a review of an unfinished movie and i'm sure Dr K would agree with me on that.

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    Comment number 19.

    This is a tricky one as, on one hand, I like to know if a film is worthy of the hype and something I should eagerly anticipate with bated breath. On the other hand, I can be a bit sickened off by months of publicity and, by the time the film is released, will have largely forgotten what certain reviewers said about it and whether it's one to definitely see, probably see or completely avoid.

    Bearing in mind what Dr K said about Killer Joe and Enter the Void, perhaps there should be two reviews: one following the initial press screening and another a week prior to release when you've had time to digest and think about the film a bit more.

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    Comment number 20.

    Dear Dr. Kermode,

    I prefer to wait for reviews, just because I get excited and look forward to seeing the film as with Prometheus, however I do not think that is what you did with your Killer Joe blog entry. Your, I have to think carefully titled 'First Response' was about your initial reaction about your mixed feelings, not a full blown review. If you have ambivalent or strong views - I can imagine your 'first response' to The Idiots or SATC2, being hugely enjoyable, buut ful blown reviews, no I prefer them the Thursday or Friday the film comes out.

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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