Deadline‘s Anthony D’Allessandro has been speaking with Warner Bros. execs who are (a) upset about the tanking of Collateral Beauty and (b) believe that aggregate movie sites that summarize critical opinion (Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic) are largely to blame for killing this grotesquely awful Will Smith movie.
“Critics, more than ever, can dictate the financial fate of a movie, particularly one that’s inherently a crowd-pleaser,” D’Allesandro said in a piece that posted Sunday morning. “Critics arguably have the power to keep them at home, shut down a movie and put exhibition in a stalemate.”
Really? And all this time I’ve been under the impression that critical opinion doesn’t matter all that much with the hoi-polloi — that while moviegoers might occasionally glance at an upcoming film’s aggregate critical score, most of them pay to see a film because of the effectiveness of the ad materials (mostly the trailers) and what their friends are saying about the film on social media, or because of a basic gut feeling.
Critical opinion matters on a mass scale, I think, when it manages to incite or propel the general conversational verdict among ticket-buyers. Otherwise most people despise critics for their foo-foo sensibilities — for their anal-cavity-residing way of processing films (and for that matter life itself).
Favorite HE passage: “Warner Bros. even received sympathy from a rival major studio distribution executive who defended the mass-appealing qualities of Collateral Beauty: ‘Film critics are narrow-minded and have dark hearts,’ the exec said. ‘They prefer something like Manchester by the Sea, which is significantly much darker than this film and deals with a similar set-up: the death of children.”
Wells to quoted non-Warner Bros. exec, D’Allesandro and all Warner Bros. kvetchers: The “critics have dark hearts and narrow minds” remark isn’t 100% untrue, but the inference that they prefer Manchester By The Sea to Collateral Beauty because of their own psychological dispositions is delusional on a Donald Trump level, guys. Collateral Beauty is cloying, sickening emotional goo while Manchester is an honest, artful, straight-dealing emotional masterpiece by a director-screenwriter who knows how to throw fastballs, sliders, knuckleballs and curves like a Baseball Hall of Fame legend and who knows how to tell jokes like an Improv headliner.
2nd Favorite HE quote: “Speaking with Deadline [Saturday] morning, a person close to the Collateral Beauty production declared that the film’s reviews were a ‘schoolyard assault‘.
D’Allesandro adds that a “pack-rat nature pervades unfortunately among reviewers…damned they are by their bosses should their opinion ever steer from the mainstream pack.” The terms is not “packrat” but “pile-on,” which definitely happens from time to time when critics en masse have decided that it’s safe to attack a bad film. But again, the bottom line is that Collateral Beauty stinks.