Another Oscar season dawns, and the land has fewer movie critics than it did last year. Again. As the media industry shrinks, and as layoffs abound, newspapers and other outlets have been letting wires and other broad sources fill in their film criticism offerings. (The Sun-Times' Roger Ebert, however, continues to triumph.) For years, Hollywood has sat idly by, marginalizing the impact of such losses. However, in this intriguing post at EW, based on a recent story in Advertising Age, Gary Susman reports that "the studios are starting to see a correlation between the disappearance of movie critics from newspapers and the slumping ticket sales for the kind of movies that depend on critics to publicize and champion them -- not just art-house movies from independent and foreign-language filmmakers, but also expensive, year-end Oscar hopefuls from the major studios."
Indeed, many Hollywood movies are -- to use an inaccurate but common word -- "critic-proof." James Bond and Jack Sparrow require few column inches of criticism to become bankrolling successes. But, Susman continues, "movies like 'Doubt,' 'The Road,' 'Frost/Nixon,' and 'Changeling' -- expensive, star-studded, awards-oriented films with bleak, grim, philosophically meaty plots -- are going to need all the help they can get from critics whose ranks have been decimated. As Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard bluntly tells Advertising Age, We're f---ed.' "