Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Movie? What movie? I, um, didn't see any hot new movie

Sometimes, in the business of journalism, you make agreements with sources to hold off on releasing information. For news reporters, that could be holding off on putting out the name of a criminal suspect, a detail in a coming lawsuit or the revelation that Community X will be pouring millions of dollars into a much-needed renovation project.

As the entertainment editor at The News-Herald, I don't deal with such things. I do, however, regularly review movies. (You're right. It's the better gig.) What's the connection, you ask? Geez, keep your pants on; I'm getting there.

Often, an invitation to an advanced screening of a movie comes with a stipulation that review of the movie cannot run online or in print until its opening day. As a paper that prioritizes getting content into your grubby, digital hands as soon as possible, our movie reviews generally hit www.News-Herald.com/Life at 12:01 a.m. Best we can do.

I understand why movie studios that have sunk millions and millions into the making and marketing of movies would want some control over when reviews run, and I'm generally happy to oblige them.

However, a studio has taken it to a new level. I attended a screening on Monday to an upcoming film and didn't initially realize it had any additional restrictions. But, after hearing about a writer in Columbus seeing a movie on Monday that he was forbidden to tweet about, I took a closer look at the invitation. Sure enough: "All blogs and Tweets must be held until opening day ... ."

Really? A blog entry, I get, as it easily could serve as a full review. But a tweet? A harmless collection of 140 characters? Meh.

Hey, these studios aren't playing. More and more, attendees -- critics and non-reviewers alike -- of advanced screenings are forced to leave their camera- and microphone-equipped smartphones in their cars. Such was the case Monday afternoon, when maybe 10 of us sat in a an auditorium at Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland Heights to watch a highly anticipated movie.

With all this fuss, and I hope it's OK if I tell you if I generally liked the movie. Check the web or paper on Friday to learn the identify of the movie and what I thought about it.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't wonder if everyone followed the rules or were made to play by the same rules. In a TOTALLY UNRELATED MATTER, esteemed critic Roger Ebert released his review of "The Hunger Games" today.

-- Mark Meszoros | Entertainment@News-Herald.com | @nhfeatures


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