The Movie Review Biz

Back when I was in college, I used to write movie reviews for the school paper. It was a lot of fun – I used to go watch a movie, gather my thoughts, write what I thought about it, then go to a frat party and drink several kegs of beer. Well maybe not that last… Anyway, I sort of assumed that that’s more or less how most movie reviewers did their thing – watch and write. Apparently not. The Consumerist has an interesting article about how critic Pete Hammond of Maxim changed a quote in his review of Hannibal Rising at the producers’ request.

I learned something here about incentives: it’s obvious why a movie studio would want to quote a good review in their ads, but it’s less obvious (to me, anyway) why a reviewer would be keen on being quoted (The Consumerist makes heavy use of the term “quote whore” – Word Spy, are you listening?). But for the critic (and the magazine), being quoted is free advertising! Particularly for a lower budget publication, being able to piggy-back on a Super Bowl ad for a movie is a fantastic deal. So there’s actually tremendous incentive for a magazine like Maxim to put out good (or at least quotable) reviews of high profile movies. “Watch and Write” – how naive I was…

–YY

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