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Will Critics Get to See Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" Before It Opens?

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by Sam Adams
March 25, 2014 2:58 PM
11 Comments
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Russell Crowe is "Noah"

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."

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11 Comments

  • Kristen | March 26, 2014 10:13 AMReply

    I also emailed the Paramount rep last week regarding screenings and got no answer at all. I still haven't received an invite; I've emailed both the Paramount rep again and Gloria Jones to see when/where today's screening is and haven't gotten anything in return. It's frustrating, to say the least.

  • Kristen | March 26, 2014 11:00 AM

    Update! I just got my invite for tonight's screening. I'm really looking forward to the pre-screening chatter.

  • Sean Means | March 26, 2014 9:35 AMReply

    Paramount's regional reps told me a couple weeks ago that "Noah" would screen in Salt Lake City on Wednesday morning (this morning), but only for me and the other major daily in town. A week later, the reps said all the local critics were invited.

  • Philly Writer | March 25, 2014 10:27 PMReply

    Nothing in Philadelphia either.

  • DCMovieDude | March 25, 2014 9:58 PMReply

    Paramount did the same thing in DC with Star Trek Into Darkness and Anchorman 2. They just got caught this time by enough people ready to expose the truth.

  • Mark | March 25, 2014 5:41 PMReply

    The whole "we forgot" answer is bull. I'm a critic in Maryland and I specifically asked the Paramount rep at Allied a week ago if there was going to be a screening. I got a flat "no." I'm sure I wasn't the only critic to inquire. I know someone in DC who got an invite this morning and was called personally to make sure the invite was received. The movie has huge awareness, and with the conservative media already bashing it (without having seen it) for its environmental message, you'd think they would want mainstream press to cover it.

  • KP | March 25, 2014 4:38 PMReply

    As a former publicist, I find this entire thing wildly entertaining.

  • Scott | March 25, 2014 3:05 PMReply

    I've been on the frustrating critic end of this many times, but I also understand that 1) studios have no obligation to serve every city's critics (even major ones) and that 2) there's no way they could respond to that article with anything other than an awkward mea culpa and a magically-created new screening.

  • Sam Adams | March 27, 2014 11:24 PM

    "I lied because the truth would make things harder for me" isn't really an acceptable excuse, and we know that's what it means anyway.

  • Bluebird | March 27, 2014 10:52 PM

    But Sam, if a publicist were to admit, "I can't show it to you," the amount of Internet gossip/speculation/bad buzz would sink a movie in this day and age, even if it were actually good. I'm neither a publicist nor a paid critic, btw; I'm just saying.

  • Sam Adams | March 25, 2014 3:16 PM

    Screenings are a privilege, not an entitlement. Showing movies to critics early usually works to the mutual advantage of both parties; when they think it won't, the people who own the movie have the right not to show it in advance. I do, however, wish publicists would learn to say "I can't show it to you" rather than "We're not screening it."

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