Movie News

Inside The Screening Process With MORIARTY & THE FARRELLY BROS!!

Published at: Feb. 16, 2001, 3:45 a.m. CST by staff

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

So I'm recovering right now from the long weekend at home, where I saw the entire extended Moriarty family for the first time in quite a while. It was a treat, and I spent that time intentionally not looking at the Internet unless absolutely necessary, trying to just enjoy a little time not thinking about all things AICN. Tuesday morning, I'm going through my e-mail, catching up on things, when our very own Robogeek forwards me a story from the LOS ANGELES TIMES. He says there's a story of Harry attached and points out how interesting it is that they never contacted Harry for a quote in a story that mentions us so prominently. I'm going to quote their article as their official position and respond to it as I discuss something I was fortunate enough to participate in over the last few weeks.

"Cyberspace Taking the 'Sneak' Out of Sneak Previews"

That's the headline. Directly under it, a slugline reads:

"Studios say the Internet explosion allows screening reports, gossip and misinformation to surge virtually unchecked, potentially killing a movie even before it's released."

Oh, please. I can tell what kind of piece this is going to be before I even dig in. I read the byline:

"By DAVID SHAW"

David Shaw's been doing a series of articles all week long for the LOS ANGELES TIMES about the current state of entertainment journalism, and among the other highlights was the article in which he conclusively states that the LOS ANGELES TIMES is writing hard-hitting entertainment journalism now even though it used to be really soft. But now it's hard-hitting. Seriously. And in other articles, he's railed about lazy reporting or about how reporters allow themselves to be spun. But not him. And not the hard-hitting TIMES. Nope. Of course, he never did contact us for his story, something that would seem only natural. And simple, too. I mean, there's contact numbers for every one of us on the page. Me, Harry, Robo, El Cosmico. There's e-mail addresses for spies like Robie and Mysterio and Hercules The Strong at the end of every story they write. We're not hard to get in touch with. But for whatever reason, David Shaw has chosen to write a piece about test screenings that would have already been out of date two years ago, a piece that somehow buys into the mythology that there's some sacred mystical process that we at Ain't It Cool have destroyed. This one had whiskers on it by the time Chris Pula left Warner Bros., and the story reads like Shaw just dug an old one up and regurgitated the same tired arguments all over again.

"Until relatively recently, most of what the public knew about a new movie before it was released came directly or indirectly from studio advertising and marketing departments. The studios went to great lengths to keep it that way."

This is true. Studios have controlled the way information is distributed about movies for a long time, and the creation of sites like Corona's Coming Attractions, Dark Horizons, and AICN have definitely changed that. To my mind, for the better. I am a firm believer that the entire filmmaking process is fascinating, and there's something to learn from each step of a film's life. All of us doing this have had to learn as we go because we're all working to pioneer a new form of entertainment reporting, one that I'm always excited to be a part of.

"Today, even before a movie is cast, even before a deal is made, Internet sites circulate copies of hot scripts that studio executives are taking home to read that weekend. Then, as negotiations and production unfold, these sites, aint-it-cool-news.com foremost among them, routinely post news of casting decisions, trouble on the set and budget overruns. As with much else on the Internet, this information isn't routinely subjected to the kind of editing that traditional print publications require, so the potential for error is great, as occurred last October when Aint-It-Cool-News named the wrong young actor as starring in the movie version of "Harry Potter." Aint-It-Cool-News has had its share of scoops, but it also erred last Oscar season when it posted a list of purported finalists for Academy Awards nominations on the eve of the nominations announcement, only to learn later that it had been the victim of a hoax."

Ah... the agenda emerges. Here we see that Shaw is out to paint the Web as an inherently lesser source of information, especially when compared with a bastion of honesty like newspapers. Especially his paper. The hard-hitting LOS ANGELES TIMES. We all know that if it's in the newspaper, it's got to be true. No newspaper anywhere is ever inaccurate or responsible for spreading rumors. And let's see... where was it that Jeffrey Wells was employed when he reported on those test screenings of LAST ACTION HERO? The test screenings that Sony denied even took place? The test screenings that eventually led to his firing? That was the LA TIMES, wasn't it? Back in '93, years before there was an AICN. Funny how that works, eh? It's also funny how we're actually not the foremost site for running test screening reviews, and haven't been for quite a while. Sure, we still run reports, but it's not every day, and it's not every screening. I'd say Garth publishes more test screening results at DARK HORIZONS than we do, if you want to go strictly by volume.

"Much more troubling to the studios, Aint-It-Cool-News and other Web sites post their users' appraisals of movies they see at test screenings - the screenings that studios have long used to gauge audience response and to determine what, if any, changes should be made to the movie before it is released."

Gasp! You don't say! Gosh, this must have been news... oh, say, about four years ago when we were actually getting started. By this point, it's just one of those things that is part of the process. Oh, I can hear the argument back: "Just because the studios are used to it doesn't mean they like it." And that may very well be true. But in the end, it doesn't matter if they like it or not. It's newsworthy in my opinion because of how many times films have been taken out of the hands of filmmakers and ruined in the testing process. It's newsworthy because of all the times research companies have told a filmmaker one thing with their numbers even though the audience said something totally different. Since when has the news media asked permission to cover stories? Just because we're dealing with the entertainment industry, does that change the rules somehow? Should we call up the studios and ask them what's okay for us to cover?

"'You're taking something out that's a work in progress, but then there's this report online that says it's awful and here's why, and then maybe the other media pick it up and your movie is in trouble with the public, even before it's ready for the public,' says Bruce Berman, former president of worldwide theatrical production for Warner Bros. and now chairman and chief executive of Village Road Show Pictures Entertainment. 'It's like reviewing a book or a newspaper story before the final editing is done,' Berman says, 'and it discourages risk-taking and innovation.'"

And now we get to the heart of the argument, and here's where Berman loses, and where Shaw loses by making Berman the sole voice in the piece. This paragraph seems to suppose that we have the power to kill a film or make a film. This isn't true. It's never been true. We don't have the ability to affect the opening of a movie. The studios can still market a piece of shit like BATMAN & ROBIN to a monstrous opening weekend gross, and they can still mismarket a classic like IRON GIANT to a first-weekend death. We ran scathing reviews for B&R and lavished praise on GIANT, and all it did was open the door for dialogue.

The truth is, I believe in testing your work. I believe there's value in showing something to audiences as it evolves. The Marx Brothers used to tour with their scripts as live productions, ad-libbing, trying out twists on material, refining it until they shot the classics like A NIGHT AT THE OPERA or ANIMAL CRACKERS. It's standard practice for plays to have a production somewhere while gearing up for New York. I recently was dragged by a friend of mine, the luscious Marla Singer, to see a musical here in town called BARE. It's just wrapping up a run in Los Angeles, and then it's heading to New York. What we saw felt in some ways like a workshop production in a space that could barely contain it, like a trial for the show it could eventually be. Seeing something at that stage of development can be exciting. The audience feels like they're part of something. I know that Marla went back to see this particular musical enough times that she was noticing anytime lines were cut or material was reworked.

The idea that we discourage risk-taking or innovation is patently absurd. In fact, I'd say the test screening process itself is what has discouraged those things, and it's only when a filmmaker has a solid track record that they are able to challenge the status quo. Case in point: the Farrelly Brothers. Pete and Bobby are becoming more aggressive as producers these days, and they're bringing their practical experience with the test screening process to bear on the work that they're shepherding towards release right now. As John Robie's piece on SAY IT ISN'T SO explained earlier this week, we were invited to see a test screening by the Brothers themselves, and what we saw initially was the third time the film was being shown. The first two screenings had gone well, with the second one scoring almost as high as THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. The Farrellys were pleased, and with their director J.B. Rogers, they decided to try something radically different in the middle of the film. Yes, that's right... they decided to take a risk, exactly what Berman said doesn't happen. And the night of that risk, they invited us to be there to see it.

I hadn't seen Pete since the night Harry and I disguised ourselves and snuck into a screening of ME, MYSELF, & IRENE. I've been aware of the work they were doing, the gearing-up on their two new projects, and I'd read an early draft of SAY IT ISN'T SO by Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow. I was excited to see a screening of something they were working on precisely because of how well they've used the process so far. With MARY especially, they were able to screen the film repeatedly, whittling it into shape by listening closely to audience response, attuned to the smallest details.

And how was the first screening I saw of SAY IT ISN'T SO? Sporadically funny with a long, dry middle. The film starts off well enough. Like almost every Farrelly film, it opens with Gilly (Chris Klein), the film's main character, narrating, talking about his life. It's an easy way to set up who we're watching and what he's all about, but it feels a little soft, like it's part of some formula. The laughs don't really kick in for the first five or ten minutes, but then we're treated to a pretty big gag involving Gilly going to dinner at the house of a married friend. It's a sight gag, and it's so raunchy that you realize this is Farrelly country after all, and anything goes. I like that strange mixture of the genuinely sweet and the unapologetically dirty that they've managed in their work so far, and although J.B. Rogers isn't anywhere near as accomplished at it as Pete and Bobbby are, the best moments in his film are the ones that come out of nowhere. The introduction of Jo Wingfield (Heather Graham) is light and funny, but the laughs really start when we realize just how horrible a hairstylist she is when she cuts Gilly's ear off. When we first see Jo's father Walter, played here by the great Richard Jenkins, he's in a wheelchair after a stroke, talking through a voice synthesizer. Making fun of a cancer kazoo isn't really new, but there's something about the innocent way Gilly proclaims, "Oh, cool, you have a robot!" when he first hears him that made me fall out of my chair. Both Klein and Graham seem to have been cast because of their almost inherent innocence. It's amazing how she can play Rollergirl in BOOGIE NIGHTS and do full frontal nude scenes or play the conniving predator of BOWFINGER, and still be able to play as sweet and as unaffected as she does here.

Gilly and Jo have a blessed six months together, and Gilly is just working up the nerve to propose to Jo when something terrible happens: they learn that they are actually brother and sister, with Gilly having been given up at birth. Valdine (Sally Field), Jo's mother, confesses everything, and Jo has no choice. She runs. She vanishes back into the arms of Jack Mitchelson, a thousand miles away, and Gilly moves in with Valdine and Walter, having found a family but lost his love. Everyone in town taunts Gilly about being a sisterfucker. Gilly loses his job and ends up on a crew that picks up roadkill, and he's just about resigned himself to this hellish lifestyle when he gets two pieces of news back-to-back:

First: Jo's getting married.

Second: She's not really his sister.

So the script gets to have it both ways. It gets to play the shock value of the incest joke, and it lets the audience off the hook and sets up the rest of the film. Simple enough. Gilly's going after her, and he'll do whatever it takes to get her back.

The trick with a film like this is to make the inevitable interesting. We know how the film's going to end. Gilly and Jo, wrapped around each other, happy, the music big on the soundtrack. That's never in question. What makes a film like this worthwhile (or doesn't in the cases that fail) are the details.

At the first screening we attended, the stretch of movie that came after Gilly's discovery played at a very subdued pace. He heads for the town where she's living, and along the way ends up hitting Dig McCaffrey (Orlando Jones) with his car, literally knocking him out of his fake legs. Orlando is the first reason I would recommend SAY IT ISN'T SO. He's funny in every moment he's onscreen. I am so glad to see someone finally use him in a major role in the proper way. It's been a long time coming. I met Orlando when I moved to LA back in 1990. He was writing for A DIFFERENT WORLD at that time. I've run into him any number of times over the years, and when he joined the cast of MAD-TV, I was happy to see him showcased as a performer. Film work like his turn in OFFICE SPACE has shown that he's good if given good material, but he's never had the chance to really steal a film before. SAY IT ISN'T SO should be a great segue into EVOLUTION for him, and the combination of the two could finally make 2001 into his year. I love that he's allowed to play eccentric in SAY IT ISN'T SO. There's something wonderfully unhinged about his work. He's got two fake legs, and there's a number of gags involving him losing his legs in various ways or having them taken. There's also some great strange humor like his narcolepsy episode in the car or him eating the evidence when he lands his plane after the banner run. These are all laugh out loud moments, and it's all in the performance.

On that first viewing, I thought Orlando saved what was otherwise a fairly dry act two. There's a lot of strange sort of plot mechanics going on with Gilly and Jo and her maybe-evil fiancee, Jack (Eddie Cibrian, from TV's THIRD WATCH and SUNSET BEACH). The funny moments along the way had the most frustrating rhythm, like they'd just get started and then they'd stop again, and it didn't feel like it started to work again until late in the film. Then that inevitable ending arrives, and damn if it isn't effective just because of how sweet they both seem, and I found myself frustrated. To my eyes, it wasn't an easy thing to pinpoint. Something about the film wasn't working, something important.

Here's how the test screening process worked: J.B. Rogers and Pete and Bob Farrelly and Gaulke and Swallow and everyone there knew it wasn't working. There was an energy in the room for the first 45 minutes of the film, and then the air went out of it, slowly, like a balloon. No one needed to hand out questionaires to know that there was an issue. As soon as the screening ended, Robie and I walked out to the lobby. We walked around, listening in on the various post-mortems going on, and what we heard was a remarkable amount of self-awareness. They weren't trying to convince themselves that everything was perfect and wonderful and the film was just great. No... they were talking about how the middle of the film fell apart, and they were making some immediate decisions on ways to recut.

As we listened to J.B. Rogers talk, in particular, it became apparent that what we saw was a radical restructuring of the film that had already been testing so well. J.B. had wanted to try something different, wanted to see if it would work, and instead it seemed to have backfired. He knew exactly what he wanted to restore. Basically, they were discussing going back to the film as it was in the cut before.

J.B. actually went and sat in the theater while the focus group discussion was going on. He listened to these people try to articulate what they thought was wrong. I've been in any number of these focus groups, and I know they can be brutal. Most directors won't actually stay in the theater while they're going on. Most directors probably couldn't take it if they did. J.B. listened, though, and then actually thanked them all before they left. He rejoined the rest of us in the lobby, and discussions about how to fix things continued. We waited there in the lobby until NRG came back with their numbers for the screening. They had dropped 20 points from the previous screening, a disastrous amount. Pete Farrelly spoke frankly to us after hearing this. "We had it," he said. "We tested it last time, it was doing as well as MARY. We went in, we tried some things out, and we dropped 20 points." He shook his head, laughed it off. "We fucked it up. But listen... we're going to try this again next week. You should come back then." We joined the entire group at a bar across from the theater to continue talking about the film, and by the time we left, they had made a number of solid choices about what work needed to happen, and we had agreed to come back and see the movie again the following week.

And so a week later, I found myself sitting in the same seat, in the same auditorium, watching the same film again.

Only... it wasn't.

At first, it was just little things that were different. They did a better job of setting up Valdine as a villain. She's not just big and loud... she's really mean. And Field's funniest little moments seem to be in those mometns of extreme cruelty. It made a real difference, got me more interested in her. The opening introductions of Gilly and Jo seemed more spry.

Once the second act kicked in, though, it was more apparent that the film had been recut. Events came in a totally different order. There's a whole subplot about Gilly being sent to Mexico that didn't exist in the first screening. Suddenly things flowed together. Suddenly it all seemed lighter, funnier, more enjoyable. Suddenly the film was that breezy romantic comedy that it wanted to be. Not perfect, certainly, but perfectly fine. It worked. There was a life to it.

And the room felt different. The audience stayed focused, stayed engaged. The laughs were much bigger. There's an extended sequence in the film where Gilly gets his hand and arm stuck up a cow's ass, and the way it was cut the second week worked a million times better. The laughs rolled into one another, building and building, instead of stopping and starting again. People were into it, and when the film paid off, they went with it. It wasn't a breath of fresh air... it was a satisfying finish. Instead of individual moments standing out because of how dry the stretch before was, the entire second act seems to be one simple setup and payoff after another. It's the kind of film that deserves to have that Farrelly stamp of approval on it.

I hope they've continued to tweak the film, because it still needed nips and tucks. I thought there was one joke (Dig eating the pot in the airplane) that is actually undermined by the second cut. There's material added back in early on in which Dig tells Gilly how Jack makes his money as the biggest pot dealer in the area. Dig is righteously indignant about it. To have him suddenly trying to eat an ounce of weed before it can be seized is inconsistent, and it was jarring enough to lessen the joke for me. It's a great joke. You can lose stuff about Jack without ever missing it. He's a bad guy. He's a jerk with money. That's enough. There's no payoff to that part of his character, so it's not needed.

As soon as this screening was over, the mood was different. J.B. knew he'd found his film, and everyone else agreed. Having seen the jump from one week to the next, I was impressed. The running times of the two cuts seemed roughly identical, but the second one felt twice as fast, and it was all because of the way that second act was built. Even before the numbers came back, there was a sense of celebration. Turns out they got their 20 points back and actually increased by 5, giving them a score that beat MARY's best test screening.

Pete and Bob Farrelly are an exception to the rule. They were able to experiment in the system, and they were able to improve their movie, and they were able to use the screenings for the best possible reasons. They listened to their audiences. They watched the film, listened for laughs. They have a gift when it comes to fine-tuning material, and that gift feeds on the ability to show the film and keep working on it.

What would have happened if Fox had panicked after the first screening we saw? What would have happened if they had taken the film away from the Farrellys and started cutting their version of it? Because that's happened more than once to directors after NRG brings back their dreaded "numbers." The idea of using precise numerical stats to measure a reaction to something as complex as art... even pop art... is madness. If you sit in a theater where a film isn't playing well, you know it. If you aren't able to do that, then you probably shouldn't be directing films. Numbers are a crutch, and they're the one place where the process really falls apart. Even when they tell a happy story, the way they did for SAY IT ISN'T SO, they're no match for real experience. With a track record like KINGPINT, DUMB & DUMBER, and ME, MYSELF & IRENE, the Farrellys have proven that they can tweak a comedy to the point where it's a weapon. Here's hoping their newest projects, SHALLOW HAL and THE RINGER, come together with this same style, this same sense of precision.

I'll close by countering the last two paragraphs of David Shaw's piece:

"Because postings on most Web sites are anonymous, studios can flood them with praise for their current releases, giving the false impression that test audiences love these movies. 'Studios manipulate aint-it-cool-news.com and other Web sites,' says Rick Lyman, who covers Hollywood for the New York Times. 'There aren't as many people on the planet Earth who liked BATTLEFIELD EARTH as wrote raves on those Web sites before it was released.'

Oh, really? You mean like these? Or was it maybe this one you were thinking of?

Bottom line: it seems to be okay for other media sources to resort to gross generalization when discussing what has or hasn't run here on AICN or on the other sites doing such good work out there. From my own personal experience, I know that what they're writing isn't true. The test screening process is alive and well for filmmakers that are able to derive the proper experience from it, and when things go wrong and we report on it, people find it easier to say it's our fault than they do to actually fix the film. I love watching guys like The Farrellys work. It cuts through all the crap, and it reaffirms my faith that you can earn clout by simply doing what you do very well.

But then again, what do I know? I'm busy discouraging risk-taking and innovation. Better get back to it. I'll be back this weekend with two set visit reports: one for EVOLUTION, and one for Frank Darabont's THE MAJESTIC. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback

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  • Feb. 16, 2001, 4:33 a.m. CST

    There are just as many fake positive reviews as there are negati

    by Smilin'Jack Ruby

    It happened pretty fast, but marketing folks at some studios/PR agencies/distributors figured out pretty fast what "sells" on a website (read: negativity) and are cashing in on that as fast as they cashed in on the: "I'm just a hayseed from Orange County and was honored to be invited to a test screening of a movie and couldn't wait to come back here and tell y'all how great it was!" For every negative review of a "test screening" you see positioned a few days before a movie comes out, ask yourself what movie is it going up against that weekend and would-those-folks-stoop-so-low-to-post-fake-reviews-to-pimp-their-own-product? Answer: Well, duh. I think Poland the other day in his column said something like "entertainment journalism is the necessary afterbirth to real filmmaking" or something like that. Yes, a couple of decent test screenings that are specifically targeted can punch up a movie (great documentary about it on that "Final Destination" DVD of all things), but the web ain't The Economist or the Wall Street Journal.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 5:15 a.m. CST

    hooly dooly thats a long post

    by labman

    many much reading... good o!

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 5:57 a.m. CST

    Old men do it better thank you...

    by reni

    These people are hairdressers. Gossip columnists. And jealousy gets you nowhere...

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 6:23 a.m. CST

    Thank You MORIARTY!!

    by Duty

    Your one funny guy. In posts or in AICN Chat you are just so damb cool. Cant wait for those set reports. -jd

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 6:51 a.m. CST

    Same old typical BS...

    by anghus

    "Take credit when it benefits you, deny liability when fingers are pointed". Thats an old Japanese saying, which should be the motto for this site. I get a lot of flack for being "Anti-AICN" but i come to the site, i read many articles, and respect what you guys do. However, your perspective is pretty screwed up sometimes. You guys take credit for the success of films, like the articles where Harry has attributed AICN to ebing a key factor in the success of movies like American Beauty, CTHD, and others. But when you get accused of being shoddy journalists (which no offense, but you, Patrick, and the rest of us are) you guys get all defensive. We deal in rumor and hearsay, not facts, and to think even for a moment that what websites like AICN or COming Attraction or even Guerilla-Film.com are legitimate or fall under the basic precepts of journalistic integrity, well youre nuts. I will not deny the impact that AICN has had, but it does done as much to screw up an already screwed up industry as it has to help promote films that may have slipped under the radar. Is it your fault directly, no, but the article is right in one respect: Sites like AICn and CA get used by studios. Sony has CA in their pocket, CountingDown is owned by Dreamworks and im sure there are some studios that convienently "leak" information to you as well. Let's not get all high and mighty if someone accuses us of being shoddy journalists. We are, and maybe thats not such a bad thing. On a more personal level, the fact that you guys 'disguised' yourselves to sneak into a screening shows how eerily child-like you guys can be. Go to a bar, buy a girl a drink or something. i swear i think you guys would prefer to see 10 minutes of LOTR footage as opposed to getting laid, but that's just my theory. Also, the first rule of criticism is never respond to it. You guys didnt do it with Film THreat last year, why start now.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 6:57 a.m. CST

    I hate know-it-all reporters

    by SaintX99

    I can't wait to see this new Farrely movie! anyways, don't listen to the jackass at the LA Times...without talking to people, especially the ones he's writing negatively about, that proves he's a dirty little wuss!!

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 6:59 a.m. CST

    This just in

    by JonQuixote

    I just got an email that says that Vanessa Redgrave has just joined the cast of Funny Movie, (formerly, There's Something About Irene's Kingpin), the new Wayans' Brothers spoof of Farrelly Brothers movies. She's reported to say, "There's something inherently funny about the cinematic properties of semen. You're watching a movie, and suddenly there's all this semen. Everywhere. Hilarious. Well, for all you cum-joke fans out there, this movie will set the benchmark. We're going to deal with more semen than Lewinsky's drycleaner." Filming on this will begin shortly after the Wayans' Brothers finish up O'Menace II The Dumb Matrix, Where Art Though?, their hilarious spoof on movies directed by made by other brothers, and one reported to set records on the amount of jokes that revolve around the body cavities of farm animals.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 7:03 a.m. CST

    boy

    by SCOTT1458

    Morarity, you sound like a conservative beating up on the "liberal" press... Think proffesionalism has anything to do with it?

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 8:23 a.m. CST

    I love misinformed articles! And thanks, Mori, for referring ba

    by Lenny Nero

    Definitely makes things better for my future as a critic.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 8:36 a.m. CST

    The "tabloidization" of our print media

    by LeeScoresby

    excellent article. The argument over the positive and negative effects of the internet on the movie business is a complicated and fascinating one. One theone hand, we have people like Moriarty who believe in film as transendence at its best moments. On the other, we have the studios, for whom this is a high stakes business. Both sides have intriguing points to make (after all, movies ARE commerce before art here in America) and it's always a pleasure to hear Moriaty's thoughts on a given subject. It's the hypocritical journalists who paint an inflated portrait of nearly everything in this day and age that are truly the problem. With ever increasing entertainment options and an ever dwindling number of loyal paper readers, newspapers are more and more resorting to the kind of sloppy, near flagrant tabloidism which used to be such anathema to them. More so than the latest Matrix casting news, these are the sorts of reports I come to AICN for. Well done, Moriarty.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 9:11 a.m. CST

    uNBELIEVABLE!

    by Z-Man

    Ooops, capslock on! Anyway, I was gonna make a lot of arguments, but you seem to have covered all of them. I just find it fascinating that this guy is arguing that information about a film SHOULD be controlled by the studio! Anyway, negative reviews are hardly the focus of AICN and DH. Its much more about Positive reviews for projects that studios want to bury. I'm glad you brought up the Iron Giant--perfect example. How about Blair Witch? In the week leading up to its release, did Access Hollywood run reports on that? No, only after it became a surprise hit was it deemed worthy of coverage. And it wasn't a hit because of its website, as the media stated, it was a hit because of genuine buzz generated by sites like AICN! Discouraging risktaking??? Read the reviews of Monkeybone! Do any of them argue that it's "too weird?" Hell no! They all complain that its not Weird enough!!! Anyway, keep up the good!

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 9:52 a.m. CST

    Big bad Websites Ruining Movies!

    by Dana

    Just as I've been arguing for some time now, struggling movie studios desperately attempting to bring a little bit of art to the masses are being thwarted by faceless website conglomerates hellbent on destroying any glimmer of originality in cinema!!! You philistine bastards! Just think will you, poor Jerry Bruckheimer keeps sticking his neck out, pushing the envelope, looking for that extra little bit of something that he and Michael Bay can point to and say "There, that's what we mean by the human condition!" and all you cynical mavens of corporate culture can do is burp and holler "MORE BLOW-EM-UPS!" through your popcorn-filled maws. It makes a boy not want to grow up to be a studio exec...thanks, Dream Killers!

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 9:55 a.m. CST

    Well Reasoned, Moriarty

    by mrbeaks

    Any entertainment journalist who trots out the now-moldy "AICN Killed BATMAN AND ROBIN" has clearly not been doing his homework. The film opened big, and died on toxic word of mouth. As to the testing process, I really don't believe running reports of particular screenings hampers the creative process at all. For one thing, while this site and its competitors generate a great deal of traffic, they're still widely unread by those whose lives do not revolve around the enertainment industry (i.e. average, sane Americans;) ergo, there's still plenty of fresh meat with which the marketers can work. As for web sites being co-opted by the studios, I suppose that's completely different than, say, Bernard Weinraub writing an insanely laudatory piece on AMERICAN BEAUTY for our (America's) paper of record, The New York Times, well before its release (predating even the hype on AICN;) an article that was only made possible through the cooperation of Dreamworks SKG. The Times took a little flack for this, but managed to avoid the invective that is hurled at this site w/r/t its various on-set reports. Remember who Harry claims as a model? Forry Ackerman. Let that sink in, and I think you'll realize that, for the most part, his unabashed enthusiasm, and Moriarty and company's, as well, for films is the guiding spirit at AICN, even when they let loose with two barrels on New Line's THE CELL, or the direction of something as seemingly trivial as SCOOBY-DOO. Yes, things slip through the cracks and errors are made, but, as Moriarty stated, this is no different than any other trade paper or website. Smilin' Jack singles out The Economist, but I'll have him know that I have a $15 million lawsuit pending against those Blighty-based bastards for running a baseless story on my participation in floating a fraudulent crop report to drive down the price of Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice on the NYSE.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 10:08 a.m. CST

    OFF TOPIC

    by Broedereppo

    I know this is completly off topic but if the web designer are reading this PLZ CHANGE THE SITE CAUSE THIS SUCKS ASS. The info is GREAT but damn what a bad and ugly site and very illogic. When this site opened up it was great but now there are so much more and beautifull things on the net. It doesn't even need to be pretty but change the fucking colors and outlay and don't change the size of the letters after every 2 sentences.Just my opinion but if u agree say so. And if u don't say why cause i find myself rather going to comingsoon.net with less news and less feedback just cause it isn't annoying to look at.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 10:29 a.m. CST

    I Went To A Test Screening Of The Farrley Bros. UNTITLED BOOGER

    by Buzz Maverik

    It was great. The Farrleys were there and they explained they wanted their own untitled movie like the Coens' upcoming UNTITLED BARBER MOVIE. This one involves two humanoid boogers (Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller) on the run from a U.S. General (Chris Elliot). And this is not a studio plant. No one told me to love those boogers! What a marketing gem! Every kid in America is going to want stuffed boogers, booger bedsheets, booger lunch boxes, booger trading cards, booger comics, booger video games, candy boogers, you name it!

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 11:02 a.m. CST

    along with OFF TOPIC

    by HOOD

    I completely agree boedereppo. This site is uglier than sh*t and I much prefer going to coming attractions and darkhorizons. Those sites give you information first and foremost and if you want to see someone's opinion, then follow the links. This site, on the other hand, gives stupid opinions first and then gives you the info.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 11:45 a.m. CST

    RE: Anghus

    by Smilin'Jack Ruby

    Is saying that Coming Attractions is in the pocket of Sony an example of using rumor/hearsay on a website? Right now, I'm struggling to get into the pocket of Full Moon, but they won't return my e-mails.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 11:52 a.m. CST

    I've always been cynical about test screenings

    by Milktoast

    Because they often seem to obstruct the "vision" any given director has for his film. But the account of test screenings here certainly puts them in a new perspective for me. Test screenings should be part or an organic process for a film rather than the many studio take over horror stories so often heard. In this organic process, I think sites like AICN can be highly beneficial for directors and audiences. A watch dog as with tha Batman cartoon just released and a resource of opinions from people who live in Omaha, sort to speak. People can tell studios and film makers what they want rather than we being told what we want. I did post against those Spidey pics shown here a few weeks ago, only because Raimi apparently wants his film to gestate in secret, but I doubt it was of any grand detriment. Sites like AICN offers film makers a new perspective past film makers didn't have. They should listen to it. Moriarty has every right and should defend this burgeoning medium he is a part of. Aren't we all a part of it?

  • Feb. 16, 2001, noon CST

    I will be first in line for UNTITLED BOOGER MOVIE

    by JonQuixote

    And I can't wait for those candy boogers to hit the store. Mine just aren't cutting it anymore.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 12:30 p.m. CST

    consider yourself corrected: you're wrong!

    by JonQuixote

    If you had a noun like ferry, then the plural of that would be ferries. However, since Farrelly is a proper noun, more than one just gets an 's' added to the back. Two or more Farrelly brothers would be Farrellys, something owned by Peter would be Farrelly's (ie. Farrelly's soiled prophylactic), and something possessed by both brothers would be Farrellys' (The Farrellys' dream project is Buzz's script for UNTITLED BOOGER MOVIE). I don't know if you were joking or not, but consider yourself corrected!

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 2:18 p.m. CST

    New Pearl Harbor trailer at Michael Bay.com

    by Batutta

    Much as I hate to admit it, the trailer for this movie looks damn good.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 6:27 p.m. CST

    Re: SmilinJackRuby ie Studios owning certain sites

    by anghus

    many may not know, but a lot of us do, Patrick over at CA gets most of his 'exclusives' on Sony films like SpiderMan and Planet of the Apes, becasue the producers of these projects feed him info, so CA is little more than another press outlet, nothing underground or secretive about it, which isnt a bad thing, but CA and AICN are two completely different animals. patrick wants to be another fluff piece like Entertainment Weekly, AICN is more about the fans and secret shit, but theyre also scary as hell 28 year old man children. CountingDown.com is owned by Dreamworks, its the bastard child of Pop.com, if you dont believe me type in www.pop.com and see where you wind up. I also agree that responding to shit like this is just sad. Someone tells you you suck, laugh it off, i mean, who takes this shit seriously anyway? To go through the aricle and pick out each line then respond, that is the act of an obsessive compulsive. So let other sites get their studio leaked info and let themselves think they are rebels, or dress up in disguises to fool studio reps at a screening who are dreaming of becoming directors one day. At the end of the day, what do either sites have, a lot of poorly written stories that most people make fun of. Fact is, Harry, patrick, Garth, any of these guys would jump at the chance to be mainstream media. Harry did Ebert and the Movies, and would again if asked, Patrick would write for EW if theyd let him (but they never will). Its the sad fact of being an outsider, you tell people you like being an outsider but desperately want to be in.

  • Feb. 16, 2001, 9:28 p.m. CST

    Writing Here Is More Honorable Than Writing Screenplays. The Onl

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...aside from money to buy whiskey, is to get a shot at directing. Otherwise, your writing is disposed of as soon as it is shot, therefore you are disposable. Real writers write novels, plays, articles, poems and jokes.

  • Feb. 17, 2001, 2:39 a.m. CST

    People actually READ that?

    by Kincaid2

    God bless you, I'd rather jerk off for an hour than blow it reading that story. It's more fun and it has more purpose. Holy s., you guys REALLY took the time to read all of that? wow. I bet if harry shit his pants, and told ya about it, you'd worship every word Just fucking with you, it's cool. I'm just testing to see if anybody checks these boards. They certainly DO NOT check the facts of the 'scoops'

  • Feb. 17, 2001, 7:18 a.m. CST

    I once wrote a poem

    by JonQuixote

    about a taco eating contest I had with a Mexican. Dreamworks then optioned it, but hired David Koepp to adapt the screenplay. The point is, Stir of Echoes sucked!

  • Feb. 18, 2001, 5:33 p.m. CST

    Screen testing& movies today

    by swash11

    I think directors with real talent don't need screen testing. Do you think Spielberg screen tested "Schindler's list", or "Saving Private Ryan? Probably not, but don't quote me, I don't know for sure if he screen tested those movies or not. I'm just giving examples more to make a point then to state facts. My point is most movies that are screen tested are done because the director or the studio financing the movie are unsure if the movie is good. They are unsure about the ending, or if people will think it is funny, and does it have enough action Etc. The problem is most movies that are screen tested probably shouldn't have been made in the first place, let alone having a screen test. Most movies from mainstream Hollywood have no originality. How many times a year do you leave the theater after seeing a big Hollywood movie saying,"Wow that was a cool movie"? Most of the time I leave the theater saying, "That was ok but I seen it 20 times before in other movies" It's funny soon maybe the will be a writers/directors strike. I say let them strike What did the say in Glenn Gary Glenn Ross,"the good news is your fired" This is meant for the big name writers and directors in Hollywood who think the rule the world. You know who you I'm talking about. Not for the thousands of independent directors, writers and actors who will ever see the light of day. Now even Sundance is going to Hollywood. All these famous people show up for a day and pretend that they belong. That's the problem with Hollywood. It's full of pretenders. They will screen test a movie to 20 people then pretend the whole world will like it. Movies don't work that way. If something is funny people will laugh. If it's not funny so what. At least the writer/director can say this is my work & tried my best. I'd rather see an imperfect movie that wasn't screen tested then one that was. The problem with Hollywood is they try to make everything perfect. That will never work and that is why most aren't even worth the film there printed on. You can tell when there are changes in movies those. The only good movies this year from mainstream Hollywood: Crouching tiger, hidden dragon. Should win probably won't over Gladiator. Traffic-very cool Chocolat-a better movie then.... Erin Brockovich-In Entertainment Weekly

  • Feb. 18, 2001, 7:38 p.m. CST

    Directors don't need screen testing?

    by JonQuixote

    I dunno, but I prefer theatrical Blade Runner to the Directors Cut. And Steven Soderbergh, one of the best directors working today freely admits that test audiences helped show him that his extended take version of the trunk scene in Out of Sight just didn't work, and he went back and refilmed it for a better, more stylish and fluid cut. And I liked Unbreakable but M. Night is an overindulgent director that woudl be better off if he let his studios test his flicks. Of course, on the other side of things, you get Brazil...so y'never know.