20th Century Fox’s decision to do a nationwide commercial sneak of Cameron Crowe‘s We Bought a Zoo on 11.26 — four weeks before the Matt Damon-Scarlett Johansson-Thomas Haden Church family film opens nationwide on 12.23 — is brave and radical and unprecedented. In all sincerity, hats off.

Mat Damon, Scarlett Johansson in We Bought A Zoo.

This is being done, of course, in order to present the film directly to Joe and Jane Popcorn and in so doing bypass the big-city online smartass crowd, which, Fox apparently suspects, will probably piss on it. I for one admire Fox’s brass in doing this. They’re not hiding behind high stone walls or cowering in their boots, and are more or less following Disney’s War Horse approach — let Joe Hinterland see it concurrently with the critics and thereby remove the cynical filter of early online reviews.

“Once in a while, we’re lucky enough to have a picture to which audiences of all kinds and all ages respond so strongly, that it demands a big and unexpected event,” said Fox marketing honcho Oren Aviv. “We Bought a Zoo is that kind of picture — and Thanksgiving is a great time to share it via this special very early preview.”

Best HE Comment (from “dino velvet“): “This has the whiff of FUCK, we’re up against Sherlock 2, MI4, Dragon Tattoo, Tintin, Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 AND War Horse.”