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Ghost Rider up in Flames?
February 9, 2007
Ghost Rider

A couple weeks ago, I saw one of the Ghost Rider trailers, which got me interested in seeing the film. I was thinking about going to see it next weekend, when it opens. I mean, the guy’s head is on fire! That would be fun to watch.

This surprised me. I still haven’t seen Spider-Man 2 or Superman Returns, or felt much desire to, but Ghost Rider seems to have more of a sense of humor about itself. I think the non-major comic characters sometimes have more potential than the franchise brands.

Then I heard that the studio isn’t holding critics’ screenings, which doesn’t bode well. I also didn’t realize that it’s by the same director who did Daredevil, which was so dark and chaotic I couldn’t tell what was going on. So I probably will go see Music and Lyrics instead.

By trying to prevent educated viewers from giving their opinions, Sony’s lost my business. Most of the critics I read I don’t agree with, but I wanted to know more about the movie from people who don’t have an economic interest before I spent my $10.

27 Responses  
Jer writes:  

Not letting critics see your movie is definitely on my top 10 “warning lists” for a movie.

Of course, so is “releasing your action movie in January/February” — a traditional mark that the studio has no confidence in their product.

I planned on seeing this one at the local $1 theater anyway – probably in March or April depending on how quickly it ends up tanking. I’ll probably still go see it – there are multiple ways you can screw up Daredevil (who’s a touchy character to work with to begin with), there are really only a few ways to screw up a “flaming skeleton riding a motorcycle” movie – I’m curious to see how many of them they hit.

 
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez writes:  

Not screening a movie in advance is becoming more common for genre pictures with built-in audiences, and isn’t necessarily a red flag. I mean, it’s Nicholas Cage and Ghost Rider, so I don’t think anyone’s going to be surprised that most critics will hate it. I plan to follow my gut instinct, which says it’ll be a fun romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and check it out when I can.

The February release has more to do with their needing more time to get the special effects right (fire and water are the two most difficult effects to work with) and the success they had with Daredevil’s opening weekend in the same period.

PS: Related movies my gut instinct kept me away from include Daredevil, Catwoman, Fantastic Four and Superman Returns (though I did buy the Director’s Cut of the former, but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet). I wish I’d skipped Elektra, which was absolutely terrible, but I had some time to kill one day and it was a $5 matinee.

 
Thom writes:  

Actually, according to a critic friend this may not be true afterall. There was apparently a screening in L.A. last night for critics.

http://www.ww.cinematical.com/2007/02/08/ghost-rider-to-be-held-from-critics/

 
Johanna writes:  

Oh, I always forget about the scheduling rules, release dates implying something about the content. That’s why movie-going seems such feast or famine (usually the latter). I wish we had a $1 theater.

 
Johanna writes:  

Thom, ah, I see now they’re saying that Sony changed their mind due to bad press. Interesting spin, if true.

 
caleb writes:  

As a film critic, the only film I’ve ever seen that DON’T have critics’ screenings have all been pretty terrible genre pictures–WICKER MAN: THE REMAKE, ALIENS VS. PREDATOR, THAT HORROR MOVIE ABOUT A GUY WHO KILLS SOME TEENAGERS AND IS PLAYED BY A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER.

Even 90% of the terrible genre pictures–I’m thnking SAW II, TURISTAS, AEON FLUX–have critic screenings, because even bad reviews are essentially free ads for movies (and no Ghost Rider fan is staying out of the theaters that weekend just because some critics didn’t dig the flick.

Anyway, what’s most notable about this film is that it cost $120 million dollars, making it the most expensive film ever made not screened for critics. (Actually, it IS being screened in most places–Thursday night, making most print reviews impossible and pushing them back to Saturday at the earliest).

This bypass the critics strategy tends to happen most often with horror, and genearlly horror movies are super-cheap and if they don’t screen them for critics, they have a good chance of becoming the “#1 movie in America” on opening weekend, and that’s pretty much all the studios expect from cheap-o horror movies anyway. To not screen a movie with a big star, a huge budget and a built in audienc is the film business equivalent of vultures circling.

 
Paul O'Brien writes:  

It’s a very foolish move for a studio to refuse critic screenings. If a mainstream movie gets unanimous bad reviews then a fair chunk of the potential audience will just say, “Well, it’s the critics, what do they know?” But if word gets out that the studio won’t show it to the critics at all, then people say “Wow, even the people who made this movie think it’s bad. It must be really terrible.” The worst case reviews are still better than the message a studio sends by not showing the movie at all.

 
James Schee writes:  

Hmm I’ve been sort of curious about the movie as well, but that doesn’t bode well. I’ll probably see it at one of the $1 theaters.

Oddly I don’t think I’ve ever read a Ghost Rider story, so know nothing about the character except that his head is on fire and he rides a motor cycle.

 
Johanna writes:  

THAT HORROR MOVIE ABOUT A GUY WHO KILLS SOME TEENAGERS AND IS PLAYED BY A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER — it’s a shame that title is too long for a marquee, because I think it belongs alongside Scary Movie and Epic Movie.

 
Jim Kosmicki writes:  

why wouldn’t people expect a cheesy movie? the character has always been cheesy (and I’ve bought my share of Ghost Rider comics). I can remember back in the day that Ghost Rider was the Marvel horror book they couldn’t kill. It lasted far, far longer than any of the other books. Even though it went bi-monthly (I think several times during its run), the visual hook was good enough to keep interest up enough to keep it going. And every so often you’d get creators who wanted to try to do something with the character, and it would be pretty good. I think I remember that the last year or so of the original book was actually pretty good (but I haven’t read them in years).

So what’s my point? I guess why anyone would expect anything more than a fairly cheesy action/horror style movie in the first place. If anything, the problem with Daredevil is that they didn’t let it be cheesy enough – -they kept trying to bring in the Miller gravitas, which simply didn’t fit the rest of the movie or the actors’ abilities.

and having said all that, I’ll go to it at the cheap theatre or a matinee. And my wife and I will most likely go see Words & Lyrics too (cheese of a different variety).

 
Don MacPherson writes:  

My girlfriend, who generally doesn’t care for going to the movie theatre or for super-hero comics and who HATES Nic Cage, *wants* to see this movie. The trailers make it “look cool.” The flaming skull, the motorcycle and the sense of humor Johanna mentions make it appealing to her.

*shrug*

 
Advanced Dark writes:  

WHY IS THIS STUPID RUMOR OF “NO SCREENINGS” STILL FLOATING AROUND???

THE MOVIE HAS BEEN SCREENED WORLDWIDE LAST WEEK, AND HERE IN THE US AS OF YESTERDAY. ANOTHER SCREENING IS BEING HELD NEXT THUR, AND AGAIN AT THE PREMIERE.

STOP SPREADING BS

I KNOW PEOPLE THAT WERE AT THE SCREENINGS. LOL THERE ARE EVEN REVIEWS UP NOW.

-BYE

 
InVictus writes:  

Is this false rumour still around? Jeez…

 
Johanna writes:  

Which newspapers have published reviews?

And if the critics’ screening isn’t until Thursday, then Sony’s still trying to keep reviews out of Friday’s papers, because that doesn’t give them enough lead time.

 
Thom writes:  

Well, technically, they are supposed to wait until opening day. It’s considered bad etiquette for critics/papers to release a review before opening day (Well, at least according to my movie critic friends).

And it has already had one critics screening. Besides most local papers often carry reviews from national outlets, so they will have access to reviews for Ghost Rider well before it’s release date. I mean, it opens next week, so it seems a little unfair to still be accusing them of avoiding critics (even though they are likely doing this because the backlash).

 
Alan Coil writes:  

So.

Is there anybody out there who can tell me why it is that posters on the internet don’t seem to be able to process what they read?

The statement that there were “no screenings for critics” has inspired (?) Advanced Dark and InVictus to …what? I don’t know how to describe what they are doing.

Unless they are paid by Sony to post. Wouldn’t be the first time.

 
caleb writes:  

Thom,

It depends on the outlet. Weekly papers and monthly or bimonthly magazines generally can’t hit opening day. I used to write for a paper that came out on Thursdays, and we’d obviously review films a day early; some studios would get quite upset about that, and in fact would issue embargos. We could still publish them and ignore the embargo, but than risk not being invited to any more screenings.
Daily papers and Internet sites, on the other hand, can publish on Fridays all the time, having more leeway.

Invictus, AfterDark,
I don’t know where you guys live, but I DO know in the Columbus, Ohio market there haven’t been any screenings and thre won’t be until Thursday night; that’s the date I’ve seen in trade sources too, but anything outside my own market is second-hand info.

 
Don MacPherson writes:  

Thom wrote:
Well, technically, they are supposed to wait until opening day. It’s considered bad etiquette for critics/papers to release a review before opening day (Well, at least according to my movie critic friends).

That can’t be right. Early reviews are common, and one would think that studios would want to get some buzz going in advance of a flick’s release.

I work for a newspaper, and the movie reviews on the AP wire always move at least several days ahead of a film’s release.

 
Thom writes:  

It may be more that the Critics avoid talking about it until the day before/of their review. I know several critics who will not say anything other than “Wait for my review”. The earliest I see most reviews is Wednesday anyways.

 
Advanced Dark writes:  

The reason I responded to this is because the NY Post article was false and everyone was copying it onto their own blogs. You can also see the negative opinions formed by everyone after that article was printed so I’m helping set the record straight. The movie’s final cut wasn’t complete until last week. They couldn’t set up a major screening sooner than they have though it’s playing across the countries at several screenings throughout next week. Several on Valentines Day as well. The reviews will be up though many critics will go next Thur and some to the premiere. The first review came out on shh a few days after the final cut was done. Why the director and producers word means less than an unreliable paper is beyond me.

 
carpboy writes:  

The trailers for the movie haven’t really wowed me (and I never realized until now that Nicholas Cage is just playing Elvis playing Ghost Rider), but the one thing that’s bugged me about it is that they’re going for that big, epic score.

This is Ghost Rider. He’s as 70s as it gets. Where is the classic rock. If they made a trailer blasing Blue Oyster Cult’s “Burning for You”, I would probably be all over that piece of shit.

Seriously, what’s the deal?

 
YJ writes:  

Do your homework before you blog. Most other sites have now confirmed that Ghost Rider has and will HAVE CRITIC SCREENINGS. It WILL be reviewed. I also have every confidence that it will be a well received, fun film.

 
FlameHead writes:  

Yup. There’s screening’s. I’m sure you all know this by now… right? There’s tonnes of reviews out there already sure. Sheesh.

 
Mel Valentin writes:  

Not to sound obnoxious, but I’m constantly amazed at the number of posters who don’t bother reading what’s been said. For those of you new to the thread, check Caleb’s comments up top. He’s got it.

How do I know? I’m a critic too, write for three websites, including a local one, so I get press invites for all the major and minor films. Occasionally, it’s obvious the publicists split the screenings between online and print at the behest of the movie studio (guess who has to wait?). Most notorious example: The Da Vinci Code last summer. Print press saw it early in the week, online press had to wait until Thursday night to see it.

For Ghost Rider, I received one invite and it’s for next Thursday night. I’ll still get a review up by Friday, but it’ll be a quick write up (helped somewhat by some research into the character’s backstory/history). I expect to see the majority of critics, online and print, there.

 
Nick Green writes:  

Superherohype.com have seen the movie and posted the review on their website.

Mark Steven Johnson, the director of the film, wrote to them on Feb 7th to clarify the situation. In his words:

‘The movie is being screened for the press tomorrow on the 8th as we have our junket on Thursday and Friday of this week. Then the movie is being screened for the CRITICS next Thursday morning so that their reviews can come out the following day, on Friday the 16th. The only critics we’ve missed are the advanced press/weeklies So there will be reviews on opening day! Sony is contacting the Post for a correction. Sometimes you have critic screenings a week in advance but we weren’t ready for that (as I’ve said before, we took it down to the wire)’

 
Lyle writes:  

The reason I responded to this is because the NY Post article was false and everyone was copying it onto their own blogs. You can also see the negative opinions formed by everyone after that article was printed so I’m helping set the record straight. The movie’s final cut wasn’t complete until last week. They couldn’t set up a major screening sooner than they have though it’s playing across the countries at several screenings throughout next week. Several on Valentines Day as well. The reviews will be up though many critics will go next Thur and some to the premiere. The first review came out on shh a few days after the final cut was done. Why the director and producers word means less than an unreliable paper is beyond me..

It’s much more effective to explain a situation like this calmly than the tone you took with your first comment here.

As for the reliability of the NY Post vs. the film’s director and/or producers… Sony Pictures doesn’t have a much better reputation than Mudoch’s “news” outlets.

 
nic lancaster writes:  

i have not seem the moive BUT i have seem the trian that is in the moive it is in newport “vic”

 
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