Why this is not a review of Fame
TICKET readers may have become a little tired of reading that this or that film has not been granted a press screening in Ireland – and therefore that we can’t bring you a review on the day of the film’s release.
The way it’s supposed to work is that film distributors/publicists put on a special screening of a film a couple of weeks before it goes on general release. That gives us time to watch the film, ponder over our prose, send it in to the newspaper, have it lovingly edited and laid out by a team of sub-editors and published on the day of the film’s release, so that you can plan your weekend’s cinema outing.
The Ticket has a policy of reviewing every new film on the day of release, and 95 per cent of the time we do. But if the distributor doesn’t put on a screening, we can’t write the review. And there’s not much point in running a review after release, as so many people view a movie in its opening weekend.
The latest picture to be sneaked surreptitiously into domestic cinemas is the remake of Fame (released today with a PG cert) that, from the trailers at least, looks like a crafty attempt to make High School Musical 4 by stealth.
We can assume that it has been shown to critics in the UK and the US. But not to us.
Even if you regard the reviews in this organ as drivel, you would have to admit that there’s something fishy, not to say insulting, about a distributor showing a movie to British critics but not bothering to screen it on this side of the Irish Sea. Maybe they think journalists are meaner over here. Maybe they think we’re a little better at spotting crummy films. Maybe – I’m only partly joking here – they believe Ireland is still part of the UK.
Anyway, eager to make some sense of this phenomenon, I contacted the chief culprit. London-based Entertainment Pictures, which is distributing Fame in this territory, has released several films without press screenings.
What’s going on? How come the Irish Film Classification Office gets to see the film – a film can’t be released without a certificate from the IFCO – but members of the press don’t?
Ruth Dallat of Entertainment Pictures’ press office offers various reasons for the absence of a press screening for Fame, and claims that this particular release was complicated by being a “day and date” release, ie it has the same release date in the US, UK and Ireland.
“As an independent distributor who regularly releases Hollywood studio titles day and date with the US, we often, due to security reasons, receive a print from the producers very close to the release of the film.
“With Fame, for example, the final print arrived with us on Friday, not allowing us enough time to organise a press show outside of London.
“The fact that we have not been able to hold a press show in Ireland for some of our recent releases is not indicative of a company screening policy.
“Where we do receive a print in time to screen in advance of the week of release we do hold screenings in Ireland, as in the cases of Red Cliff, The Reader, Inkheart, Pride and Glory and City of Ember.
“We have not been able to hold any advance press screenings (ie prior to the week of release) in London of any of the titles that we have not press-showed in Ireland.”
Hmm? A few questions remain (for those of you still reading). If it is possible to screen films early on the week of release in the UK, then it is surely possible to make the same arrangement in Ireland?
And the day and date excuse doesn’t quite hold up. How come movies such as last year’s Appaloosa, which opened in the US before arriving here, did not receive an Irish press show?
From 2010, Warner Brothers will take over distribution of films from New Line Cinema, the American company behind The Time Traveler’s Wife, My Sister’s Keeper, Sex and the City and many other films that Entertainment failed to screen for the press. It will be interesting to see if Irish reviewers are invited back to the cinema.