Week in Review: The New York Times will no longer review every movie opening in NY


In this day and age of film criticism, less of it is seemingly always a bad thing, and when a bastion like The New York Times announces they’re cutting back, it seems like a particularly painful blow. However, Variety Thursday obtained an email from NYT Film Critic A. O. Scott explaining that the Times would no longer be reviewing every movie opening in New York, and the ironic truth is that this “new” policy may go a long way toward bettering the film coverage.

“Because of the increasing volume of new films released each year, the Times is no longer able to guarantee reviews of all New York theatrical releases,” Scott said in an email. He went on to add in a phone interview to Variety that the paper had already instated such a policy quietly earlier this year, and coyly confirmed as much on Twitter.

In 2013, the Times published nearly 900 film reviews. As a reaction, NYT critic Mahnola Dargis wrote a piece begging distributors to stop flooding theaters with indie releases and gaming the Times’ policy to review every film. The reality is that many titles otherwise getting a release exclusively on VOD or on DVD would stage a vanity screening, or what’s known as a “four wall booking”, in which a distributor would rent out a theater for an individual showing somewhere in Manhattan, and would then earn a NYT review and bonus press for a movie otherwise undeserving of such attention.

Suffice it to say, the policy shift does affect some smaller, art house titles, and it has an unintended impact on the Oscar’s Documentary branch. The Academy’s current policy for documentaries is that to qualify, a film needs to have been reviewed in the New York Times or the LA Times. A slight tweak in the rules may be made as a result.


A few weeks back, Zach Dennis and myself in our podcast SOS This Week discussed the State of Women in the film industry and what can be done to scale back the impact of sexism throughout Hollywood. I guess our podcast didn’t quite change the world, as the horror stories continue to roll in. This week, Sharon Waxman of The Wrap spoke with Maggie Gyllenhaal and heard a disturbing anecdote:

There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” she said during an interview for an upcoming issue of TheWrap Magazine. “I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.

Gyllenhaal went on to add that she admires the work a lot of female actresses are doing and feels hopeful, despite declining to reveal what movie she was auditioning for. The Wrap continued this coverage with a roundup of 11 other women who have recently spoken out, including Rose Byrne and her saying that it is flat out “illegal”, “discrimination”, and “old fashioned misogyny,” and Emily Blunt, who along with the cast and crew of Sicario chided the Cannes Film Festival for requiring women to wear heels on the red carpet.

The new bestselling novel The Girl on the Train, considered a successor to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, is now being made into a movie as directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, Get on Up). The Wrap reports that Marc Platt will produce the film based on Paula Hawkins’s book from this year. The Girl on the Train hit the number one spot on the New York Times Bestseller list back in January and has remained there ever since. The Wall Street Journal today reported that the book is even the fastest selling adult novel to hit 2 million copies sold. Hawkins’s story tells of a woman who fantasizes about a couple in a home she passes on the train each day, only to witness the wife in her fantasy couple kissing another man. Like Gone Girl, the narrators are not to be entirely trusted, and the details about the reality of these people’s lives is much more disturbing than imagined.

Actor Jay Baruchel is set to make his directorial debut with a sequel to the 2011 comedy Goon. THR reported that the sports comedy will be titled Goon: Last of the Enforcers, and that both Baruchel and lead Seann William Scott will reprise their roles. Baruchel will additionally write the script, as he did with the original film. The first Goon was directed by Michael Dowse (What If). THR says production on the new film will begin in June.

In Casting News, Birdman‘s Andrea Riseborough will be the villain in the upcoming remake of The Crow alongside Jack Huston. Peter Sarsgaard will be the villain in the upcoming remake of The Magnificent Seven. Tim Meadows will be in The Lonely Island’s musical comedy, which is now titled Conner4real. Will Ferrell will star in Lasse Hallstrom’s next film, a comedy called Tom’s Dad. And Dwayne Johnson will return to Furious 8 as Hobbs.

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