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Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and published in journals.

Journalistic criticism

Film critics working for newspapers, magazines, broadcast media, and online publications, mainly review new releases. Normally they only see any given film once and have only a day or two to formulate opinions. Despite this, critics have an important impact on films, especially those of certain genre. The popularity of mass-marketed action, horror, and comedy films tend not to be greatly affected by a critic's overall judgment of a film. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of any film review can have an important impact on whether people decide to see a film. For prestige films with a limited release, such as independent drama, the influence of reviews is extremely important. Poor reviews will often doom a film to obscurity and financial loss.

Reviews and film marketing

The impact of reviews on a film's box office performance and DVD rentals/sales is a matter of debate. Some claim movie marketing is so intense and well financed that reviewers cannot make an impact against it. However, the failure of some heavily-promoted movies (such as Alexander) that were harshly reviewed, as well as the unexpected success of critically praised independent movies (such as Pulp Fiction) indicates that extreme critical reactions can have considerable influence. Others note positive film reviews have been shown to spark interest in little-known films. Major box-office analysis websites like Box Office Prophets and Box Office Guru regularly factor in general film review opinions in their projections of a film's earnings.

Studios respect the clout of reviewers. There have been several films in which film companies have so little confidence that they refuse to give reviewers an advanced viewing to avoid widespread panning of the film (such as The Avengers). However, this usually backfires as reviewers are wise to the tactic and warn the public that the film may not be worth seeing. Such films often do poorly as a result.

Since so much money is riding on positive reviews, studios often work to woo film critics. Any major release is accompanied by mailings to film critics press kits containing background information, many photos for use in a publication, and often small gifts. Film reviewers who appear on television are given clips from the movie which they may use.

Online film reviews

Some websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, seek to improve the usefulness of film reviews by compiling them and assigning a score to each in order to gauge the general reception a film receives. The Online Film Critics Society, an international professional association of Internet-based cinema reviewers, consists of writers from all over the world.

A number of websites allow internet users to submit movie reviews and scores to allow a broad consensus review of a movie. Some websites specialize in narrow aspects of film reviewing. For instance, there are sites that focus on specific content advisories for parents to judge a film's suitability for children (e.g. Screen it!). Others focus on a religious perspective (e.g. CAP Alert). Still others highlight more esoteric subjects such as the depiction of science in fiction films. One such example is Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics by Intuitor. One website, Everyone's a Critic, allows anyone to publish film reviews and comment on them.

Blogging has also introduced opportunities for a new wave of amateur film critics to have their opinions heard. These review blogs may focus on one genre, director or actor, or encompass a much wider variety of films. Friends, friends of friends, or complete strangers are able to visit these sites, and can often leave their own comments about the movie and/or the author's review. Although much less frequented than their professional counterparts, these sites can gather a following of like-minded people who look to specific bloggers for reviews as they have found that the critic consistently exhibits an outlook very similar to their own. Aditya's Movie Review Blog is one such popular movie reviewing blog, aimed at new, old and unknown movies which may not be released in theatres all over the world.

Academic criticism

Some claim that journalist film critics should only be known as film reviewers, and that true film critics are those who take an academic approach to films. This work is more often known as film theory or film studies. These film critics try to come to understand why film works, how it works, what it means, and what effects it has on people. Rather than write for mass-market publications their articles are published in scholarly journals that tend to be affiliated with university presses; or sometimes in up-market magazines.

See also

Further reading

  • Haberski, Raymond J. Jr. It's Only A Movie!: Film and Critics in American Culture, University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
  • Rosenbaum, Jonathan. Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Conspire to Limit What Films We Can See, A Cappella Books, 2000.

External links

Hubs for film journalism

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