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Film Critics Refuse to Review ‘New Mutants’ Over Disney’s Screening Plan

"No safe way to do so"
Audience wearing 3-D glasses in movie theater
PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier/Getty Images

While movie theaters are beginning to re-open, some film critics don’t plan to return to preview screenings any time soon.

Disney is releasing the latest Marvel film, “The New Mutants,” this week, but the studio didn’t “make screening links available or offer socially-distanced press screenings to film critics,” IndieWire reported. Instead, the studio offered only public screenings.

But film publications such as The A.V. Club, The Boston Globe, and don’t want to attend public screenings, so they won’t be reviewing the film.

A.V. Club film critic A.A. Dowd explained why in a Tuesday essay headlined, “The New Mutants finally opens this week. Here’s why we’re not reviewing it.”

A few days ago, we reached out to Disney and were informed by representatives of the studio that they would not be providing press with either an advance screening of the film or a digital review link. In other words, the only way critics will be able to see The New Mutants is if they buy a ticket and go to a theater, just like everyone else. In normal times, that’s exactly what we’d do: Studios will sometimes decline to screen a movie in advance of its public premiere—often, it must be said, when they’re afraid that reviews will be negative enough to hurt attendance. (Maybe The New Mutants is a train wreck. Or maybe Disney just thinks it is.)

But these are not normal times. Last week, we published an interview with scientific experts on the dangers of going to the movies now, during a pandemic that is in no way under control. They did not mince words: There’s a very good chance you could get sick. And that’s a risk The A.V. Club will not be taking to review a movie, any movie, even one that will satisfy our burning curiosity about a long-delayed comic-book blockbuster that sounds more like A Nightmare On Elm Street III: The Dream Warriors than First Class. We are, in fact, adopting the official policy of only reviewing films our writers can safely watch, whether in a socially distanced press screening or with a digital screener. And yes, that applies to all our writers, even those willing to take the risk for an assignment, because we’re not willing to monetize that risk, either. editor Brian Tallerico responded to the piece, writing on Twitter, “We also will not have a review of ‘The New Mutants’ because there’s no safe way to do so. We will review theatrical releases when presented with a safe way to do so – screener or socially distanced screening – but that’s not an option in this case.”

Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr also wrote on Twitter that his publication would also not be reviewing “The New Mutants” this week.

AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest movie theater chain, last week reopened more than 100 cinemas, about a sixth of its U.S. locations.

At first, the chain will offer some retro movies, including “Ghostbusters,” “Black Panther,” “Back to the Future,” and “Grease,” among others. After the reopening, those older films will continue to play for $5, The Associated Press reported, as new movies begin to be released.

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