No screenings means no coverage: What are they hiding?

by Eric Melin on September 4, 2008

in Blogs

Since “Tropic Thunder” was released three weeks ago, there hasn’t been much in the way of quality mainstream films in the theaters, which is good news for Ben Stiller’s edgy comedy. Having spent three weeks on top of the weekend box office chart, it’s now tallied up over $87 million. It’s also good news for “The Dark Knight” which holds slow but steady at #3, having amassed $505 million so far in pursuit of the all-time domestic gross record held by “Titanic”—that seemingly impossible $600 million mark.

Let’s call it the post-blockbuster/summer hangover. Maybe it can join the early months of every year as a graveyard for really bad movies.

Since “Tropic Thunder,” it’s been pretty slim pickins. Check this slate of releases:

kiefer sutherland mirrors“Mirrors” – After using up cell phones and TV sets, the desperate horror genre switches to more everyday household items. What’s next? “Spoons”? Starring Kiefer Sutherland, who ought to choose his movies better now that he’s a TV star.

“Death Race” – A remake of Roger Corman’s 1975 B-movie “Death Race 2000″ and proof that Joan Allen and “Deadwood”‘s Ian McShane must really be hurting for cash.

“The House Bunny” – A comedy about a Playboy bunny who ends up in a sorority; headlined by Anna Faris.

“The Longshots” – An Ice Cube family-friendly comedy directed by … wait for it … Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit.

“The Rocker” – A limp comedy starring Rainn Wilson (so funny on “The Ofiice”, so desperate for laughs here) that can’t decide whether it’s a Disney movie (Teddy Gieger is so cute) or not (Jason Sudeikis is wickedly funny and way too naughty for the rest of the movie).

“Disaster Movie” – Hopefully the final death throes of a spoof series from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer that doesn’t understand that being simply timely with your parodies is not enough, you have to have something to say as well.

colege fat kid tits“College” – A preview with a fat kid squeezing his man-boobs together is supposed to make me think this is a hip, dirty teen movie like “Superbad,” right?

“Traitor” – A barely-publicized thriller starring Don Cheadle.

“Hamlet 2″ – Steve Coogan tries really hard and the studio advertised everywhere, but audiences still stayed away. My review.

“Babylon A.D.” – Vin Diesel goes all action-y again. From the opening weekend gross of this movie, it looks like he better stick to changing diapers like he did in “The Pacifier.”

Here’s the thing. Half of these movies we weren’t even allowed to see advance screenings of. There was nothing new to see last week except “Babylon A.D.,” but I couldn’t see it because there was no press screening. This week is Nicolas Cage’s verb-challenged “Bangkok Dangerous” and there is no press screening for that either. Bad sign.

You can’t always count on it, but usually the lack of a press screening means that the movie studio is trying to hide their stinker from the press as long as possible so as not to adversely affect that precious opening weekend. This reaffirms my new belief that late August/early September are the new dumping grounds. Hell, if Jan./Feb. is the spot for pre-Oscar poo, then Aug./Sept. must be the spot for pre-awards season poo.

nicolas cage bangkok dangerousAs a member of the KC Film Critic’s Circle, I’m actually obliged to embargo any movie that isn’t screened for the local press at least two days before its release date (allowing us to meet our opening day deadline). That’s the only little bit of power we have over them—to not give press to the movies they won’t screen for us.

So, needless to say, there is no new movie review this week. Has anyone else seen any of the above films? If so, let us know. In the meantime, go see “Man On Wire.” Check out my review here. It’s a nice antidote for a summer of superheroes and special effects (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that I need a break before “Watchmen”). It’s thrilling and fascinating, and it’s a documentary. Give it a try.

Or…venture into the multiplex this weekend for a little “Bangkok Dangerous,” a movie whose very title seems to be trying to keep you away—some kind of warning in broken English, like “Movie Shitty.”

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kevin September 4, 2008 at 11:11 pm

I saw College. While the movie is not a complete ripoff of Superbad, the characters absolutly are. The fat kid makes fun of the kid with glasses and insults him all the time, like seth and fogell like in Superbad. There are other similarities, too. Other than that, I just really didnt think it was funny at all. Me and my friend were making fun of it the whole time.

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2 Kevin September 4, 2008 at 11:11 pm

I saw College. While the movie is not a complete ripoff of Superbad, the characters absolutly are. The fat kid makes fun of the kid with glasses and insults him all the time, like seth and fogell like in Superbad. There are other similarities, too. Other than that, I just really didnt think it was funny at all. Me and my friend were making fun of it the whole time.

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3 raysa September 5, 2008 at 9:36 am

I saw Death Race and Babylon AD both in the same day. They’re alright.. typical blood, fast cars, guns, hot girl movies..

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4 raysa September 5, 2008 at 9:36 am

I saw Death Race and Babylon AD both in the same day. They’re alright.. typical blood, fast cars, guns, hot girl movies..

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5 Eric Melin September 5, 2008 at 10:07 am

Wow. Two in one day! I love doing that. Did you sneak in to one or actually pay for both. I have a funny story about getting into movies while on tour…

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6 Eric Melin September 5, 2008 at 10:07 am

Wow. Two in one day! I love doing that. Did you sneak in to one or actually pay for both. I have a funny story about getting into movies while on tour…

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7 Troy September 5, 2008 at 12:52 pm

I made it 35 minutes into Death Race and couldn’t take anymore and I really like Jason.

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8 Troy September 5, 2008 at 12:52 pm

I made it 35 minutes into Death Race and couldn’t take anymore and I really like Jason.

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9 Jon Sholly September 5, 2008 at 3:07 pm

I watched “Death Race 2000″ a month or so before I knew there was this crappy remake in the works. It holds up remarkably well, in a campy, goofball way. I couldn’t imagine a “reinterpretation” would be anything but stinky. I saw “Traitor” and liked it pretty well. It raises interesting questions and all that. Surprisingly, Guy Pierce is the real stand-out. I say “surprisingly” because I didn’t even know he was in it before we went. Does the studio want people to even see this movie? Strange. . .

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10 Jon Sholly September 5, 2008 at 3:07 pm

I watched “Death Race 2000″ a month or so before I knew there was this crappy remake in the works. It holds up remarkably well, in a campy, goofball way. I couldn’t imagine a “reinterpretation” would be anything but stinky. I saw “Traitor” and liked it pretty well. It raises interesting questions and all that. Surprisingly, Guy Pierce is the real stand-out. I say “surprisingly” because I didn’t even know he was in it before we went. Does the studio want people to even see this movie? Strange. . .

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11 RCM September 5, 2008 at 8:46 pm

For me, “Death Race” is an example of people attempting to make a “cult” film on purpose. This trick sometimes works but not this time.

“Traitor” thinks it’s being edgy and thought-provoking by giving an even view of Islamic terrorism but really comes across as a simplistic spy thriller with a serious lacking of the deep conversation starter material it thinks in possesses. But, Cheadle and Pierce are both fine and the action is effective so…

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12 RCM September 5, 2008 at 8:46 pm

For me, “Death Race” is an example of people attempting to make a “cult” film on purpose. This trick sometimes works but not this time.

“Traitor” thinks it’s being edgy and thought-provoking by giving an even view of Islamic terrorism but really comes across as a simplistic spy thriller with a serious lacking of the deep conversation starter material it thinks in possesses. But, Cheadle and Pierce are both fine and the action is effective so…

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13 Jon Sholly September 6, 2008 at 9:55 am

Holy crap! I want to clarify that “Death Race 2000″ holds up remarkably well! Not the nu one!!!

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14 Jon Sholly September 6, 2008 at 9:55 am

Holy crap! I want to clarify that “Death Race 2000″ holds up remarkably well! Not the nu one!!!

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15 RCM September 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm

I was simply concurring that the new “Death Race” was bad; I haven’t seen “Death Race 2000″.

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16 RCM September 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm

I was simply concurring that the new “Death Race” was bad; I haven’t seen “Death Race 2000″.

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17 ChrisKnudsen September 6, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Hey Eric, did you know that when I lived in Lawrence I got into free movies at Southwind by telling them I worked at Liberty Hall? I only started to do it this year though. I got to see like 20 films for free though. Need to find a way to scam Austin.

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18 ChrisKnudsen September 6, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Hey Eric, did you know that when I lived in Lawrence I got into free movies at Southwind by telling them I worked at Liberty Hall? I only started to do it this year though. I got to see like 20 films for free though. Need to find a way to scam Austin.

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19 Reed April 13, 2009 at 8:07 am

I just saw Bangkok Dangerous on a bus in Argentina. Let’s just say they did you a BIG favor.

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20 Reed April 13, 2009 at 8:07 am

I just saw Bangkok Dangerous on a bus in Argentina. Let’s just say they did you a BIG favor.

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21 Eric Melin April 13, 2009 at 8:47 am

Wow. That must have been a strange experience. Was it dubbed or subtitled?

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22 Eric Melin April 13, 2009 at 8:47 am

Wow. That must have been a strange experience. Was it dubbed or subtitled?

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