The INSIDER Summary:
- Sometimes, random people from the internet are quoted praising movies in commercials.
- It usually happens for films that critics hate.
- They’re not entirely reliable, and sometimes people who actually dislike the movie will be quoted.
Some movies just aren’t any good. And when movies like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” are critical flops, the distributors making the commercials can’t find any critics to quote in their advertisements.
So instead, they turn to fans. Take this recent social media advertisement for “King Arthur,” for example, which quotes people like @zoidberg95 and @hongkongphooey2:
— King Arthur (@kingarthurmovie) May 9, 2017
In order to actually get reviews from random people on Twitter, movie studios need to have those people see the movies before they come out in theaters.
For critics, distributors arrange press screenings in New York and Los Angeles where they can watch the movies weeks or days in advance to write their reviews before the film comes out. More recently, distributors have a similar procedure with fans. They’ll have fan screenings in major cities, where people who are excited to see the next blockbuster can watch it a few days in advance. Then those fans — like @zoidberg95 and @hongkongphooey2 — will tweet about the movie, the distributors will ask for permission to quote those tweets, and the tweets will end up in an advertisement.
— King Arthur (@kingarthurmovie) April 28, 2017
The problem, of course, is that these movies are bad — at least, according to critics.
If Warner Bros. screens “King Arthur” in front of dozens of critics and can’t come up with enough positive quotes to feature in a commercial, then they likely have a bomb on their hands. In this case, the studio had to rely on random movie fans who were excited enough about “King Arthur” to tweet about the movie.
Plus, some of those Twitter accounts seem to exist just to tweet about movies from screenings, or are dedicated to supporting a particular celebrity. In that case, those reviews can seem biased and are harder for fans to trust.
I wasn’t going to see Guy Ritchie’s guv version of KING ARTHUR but hongkongphoeey2’s incisive review has changed my mind. pic.twitter.com/L8d4nopQiv
— Joanna Robinson (@jowrotethis) May 9, 2017
For “King Arthur,” Warner Bros. apparently couldn’t even drudge up enough fan quotes to use judging by the fact that they quoted from the same Twitter users multiple times.
And sometimes, this practice can go terribly wrong. Consider the tale of @raniaresh, who was quoted in advertisements for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” as saying that it, “Totally blew my mind.”
If you went to his (now-suspended) Twitter account, you’d see that he “did NOT enjoy Batman V Superman,” as spotted by senior editor Brett Arnold at Mic.
A beautiful short story. pic.twitter.com/n8QGrlD6bg
— Brett _______ (@BrettRedacted) May 2, 2016
The greater lesson here may be that advertisements are simply inherently untrustworthy these days. Of course, they’re trying to sell you something. In this case, it may be a bad movie. To make themselves appear more trustworthy, they shift the expectation of trust to regular Joes instead of critics.
And even when critics are quoted, the advertising can still be outright misleading. An international distributor for the gangster movie “Legend,” starring Tom Hardy, disguised a two-star review from The Guardian in plain sight.
Here’s what the critic actually said:
The narration becomes lazy shorthand for a script that’s lacking in depth but overflowing with bad dialogue … It’s a disappointingly shallow take on a fascinating period of time and leaves us sorely uninformed, as if we’ve skim-read a pamphlet.
Of course, just because critics hate a movie doesn’t mean that everyday fans will. Even “Suicide Squad” still has its defenders. Taste is subjective. And just because critics hate a movie doesn’t mean a studio should give up on the millions of dollars they invested in making it.
The core problem is that studios shouldn’t be misrepresenting the people they quote. And for a viewer, make sure the quotes you’re reading are a reliable arbiter of taste that you trust.
By all means, if you’re enough of a Charlie Hunnam and Guy Ritchie fan to watch “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” then sure, go see it. But if it’s bad, don’t say the critics didn’t warn you.
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