Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why We Need Movie Critics: Slate Makes the Case

(meant to post this a while back ...)

"Despite popular belief, critically acclaimed movies actually sell better," according to Erik Lundegaard, who writes for the New York Times, MSNBC and the Believer mag.

"Almost any way you slice it, if a majority of critics like a movie, chances are it will do better at the box office than a similar film the majority of critics don't like. Far from being elitist, movie critics are actually a pretty good barometer of popular taste."

Lundegaard, who backs up his thesis with voluminous facts and figures, concludes with a suggestion for the bean counters, like those at the Tampa Tribune and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, who with so little forethought -- can you say "kneejerk?" -- chose to eliminate the film-critic positions from their newspapers.

"If I were a publisher, though, I'd hire the best critic I could find and have him or her write two reviews: a short one, to be printed the day or week the movie opens and that gives away little of the plot but tells readers whether it's good or bad (the service aspect); and a longer, more in-depth review that discusses the entire film, to be posted online (the critical aspect). Then I'd put a message board beneath the in-depth review and sit back. Most people don't want to hear about a movie before they've seen it but would love to discuss it afterward. Boy, would they ever."

Yes, more labor-intensive, but if this helps keep the art of daily-newspaper film criticism alive, then I'm all for it.

For the rest of the Slate piece, click here.

1 comment:

tommyduncn said...

Which would be a very, very cool argument... if critics' salaries were paid by the movie industry.

You tell me - has Hollywood spent their share of ad monies to support critics? Or does most of that dough go to TV and, uh, Hollywood?