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Earlier today, it broke that sites like The A.V. Club, The Boston Globe, and RogerEbert.com (among many others, I’m sure) will not be reviewing The New Mutants this week after Walt Disney Studios did not make links to a digital screener or to a press screening available to film critics. However, unlike many of these press outlets, I am reviewing The New Mutants. I will be doing this through the only option Disney has provided me, going to my local theater and watching the film among the general public. I will be wearing my mask when I enter the theater and remove it after being seated or eating, with hand sanitizer at the ready.
Before I get into all this, let me explain what a “screener” and a “screening” are for those unfamiliar with the terminology. A screener is a digital or physical copy of a film that is provided to film critics for either review or considerations for an upcoming awards ceremony. A screening is where the studio releasing the film holds an event for film critics to watch the film before the public. Usually, what film critics or whoever the editor oversees the film department of a publication do is send out an email to a studio stating that there is interest in reviewing a film of theirs. From there, the critics or editor waits for a reply from the studio on how the film is being screened. The critic or the editor then replies to the email (if it is a screening time) or clicks on a link sent by the studio to stream from home or the office.
Now that we’re all caught up on what a screener & screening is and all that entails, the reason why I have chosen to review the film has nothing to do with the current pandemic but is instead based on something I put in every email I send to a press representative. The phrase changes depending on who I’m talking to, but for The New Mutants, my exact phrasing was:
I would love the chance to review The New Mutants. If that’s not possible, just let me know, and I’ll watch it on my own dime when it releases and review it.
This phrasing is very purposeful to me, and the reason it’s phrased this way is that with the first sentence, I am stating a specific interest in the film, and following it up with the fact that no matter what, I will review the film. That last sentence is important because it’s stating to whoever is on the press team for the film that I am interested in that I am promising to review the film.
So, yes, I am reviewing The New Mutants, screener, or no screener. Sure, I am a bit bummed out that Walt Disney Studios isn’t sending screeners to press, but I made a promise. It’s my turn to hold up the promise I make in every email.