MSNBC’s The Scoop reports that Tom Cruise was so afraid of the inevitable negative reviews of his bloated Nazi movie Valkyrie that he offered journalists a free screening at his mansion in exchange for some kind words. I wonder if they included a complimentary stress test with that. (You know I’m not going to be the only one to make that joke today.) It’s unclear if the screening actually happened or if it was just planned:
“Distractingly bad,” and “unengaging Nazi escapade” are among some of the reviewers’ comments attached to “Valkyrie,” Tom Cruise’s film that opens Christmas day.
Cruise’s people can’t be happy —for the obvious reasons — but also, according to a source with radio station K-Earth 101, the Cruise camp was willing to go to great lengths to garner some positive publicity. In fact, they went so far as to offer a screening for anyone at the station and their friends at the Cruise home, if only they’d “say ‘nice things’ about the movie,” according to the source.
Here’s what’s said to have happened. On Nov. 24, Mark Steines of “Entertainment Tonight” called into the show to discuss the exclusive interview “ET” had scored with Cruise. During the course of the interview with Lisa Stanley, Stanley mocks Cruise for not having a German accent in the film, says early viewers “laughed at it,” and then asks, “Listen, I’m just curious how you have no German accent, so many delays, and now people are saying, ‘It’s fantastic!’ It’s impossible.”
Impossible if you’ve seen the film … maybe. Which is why, according to the radio station source, a member of Cruise’s camp called the station to offer up a free friends and family screening.
“They offered to hold it in Tom’s home — they didn’t say if he’d be there or not,” the source says. “We just had to agree to say ‘nice things’ about the movie.”
[From MSNBC's The Scoop]
This isn’t uncommon in the movie industry and I remember reading an article by Roger Ebert that I’m having trouble finding again about how movie reviewers, especially lesser-known journalists from smaller outlets, are wooed by the studios. Free flights, vacations, meals and pampering help secure the taglines that go before terrible films you’ll feel you wasted precious minutes of your life being subjected to. The superlative quotes for the bad movies are followed by a credit in a tiny font for some person you’ve never heard of who was probably treated to at least a hot meal in exchange for selling out good taste.
Bad reviews may not negatively affect box office and there are plenty of other factors that come into play. The Scoop reports that Valykyrie is doing about as well in advance tracking, or polls, as Benjamin Button, which they attribute to all the publicity Cruise has been doing for the film.
The film is at 63% on Rotten Tomatoes and some top notch critics who are unlikely to have had beer and chips at Tommy’s house like it. Roger Ebert gives it three stars and calls it “a meticulous thriller,” with Tom’s performance “perfectly satisfactory, if not electrifying.” Ebert says he doesn’t understand why everyone was trashing Tom because he does pretty well in the role.
Maybe we were wrong and the film will do ok at the box office this holiday. I know I’d rather see Benjamin Button though.