For weeks, many critics have been told they won't be able see Darren Aronofsky's "Noah," starring Russell Crowe as the ark-building Biblical patriarch, before it opens this Friday. But in Washington, D.C., that seems to be shifting, thanks to a post from the Washington City Paper about critics being shut out of screenings.
This morning, I asked more than a hundred critics around the country if "Noah" was screening in their markets: Journalists in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Houston, Nashville, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle were told it was not. (The yesses came from Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, San Diego and Salt Lake City.) But what seems more likely is a situation parallel to the one in D.C., where initially only the Washington Post's Ann Hornaday and a critic from NPR were allowed to see the film.
Within a few hours after this post was published, critics reported being invited to Wednesday morning screenings in Chicago, San Francisco and Sacramento. As far as I can determine, all reviews are being voluntarily held until opening day.
At least, that was the case until approximately a half-hour after Fischer's post went up, when an invite to tomorrow's "Noah" screening went out to the usual group of D.C. critics. If you enjoy watching studio publicists in damage-control mode, you'll love the end of Fischer's article:
Allied's Gloria Jones says that D.C. critics should have been invited to the screening, and added that she didn't know why critics who inquired about seeing the movie did not hear back, nor why tomorrow's press showing was left out of the weekly Allied email. "It just must have been an oversight, and that’s it," she says, adding that press critics should have received an email about the screening. “We’re just trying to figure out why they didn’t receive the email.”
Paramount is not know for screening generously; last year, they held Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" back until near its Christmas opening, even though it meant missing deadlines for year-end polls and top-10 lists. But the idea that Paramount just forgot to invite critics to see a $130 million movie with major stars from a critically acclaimed director strains the extreme edge of credulity. The chances of the studio admitting a blog post embarrassed them into opening up the screening are next to nil, but now would probably be a good time for critics around the country to check with their local reps and see if they've been the victim of a similar "oversight."