THR bemoans the loss of film critics

By Patrick von Sychowski | March 19, 2008 10:50 pm PDT

The Critic Many good films are suffering at the box office because newspapers are doing away with film critics, according to the Hollywood Reporter:

Reviews from established media outlets are the only reason many low-budget films make it to theaters today, because they trigger word-of-mouth and DVD-ready quotes vital to the indies’ true profit source: home video.But as more and more indie films have flooded the market (up from 501 in 2006 to 530 last year), they are overwhelming critics. “The number of films opening in New York City has exploded in the last three years — 14, 16, 18 titles some weeks, many of them shot on video and playing for a single week in one theater on the way to video,” says New York Post chief film critic Lou Lumenick, whose paper also skipped a review of the DGA Award-winning docu “Ghosts of Cite Soleil.” “We simply don’t have the space or the staff (three reviewers, all of whom have other responsibilities) to review them all, so we make tough decisions on a case by case, week by week, basis.”At the same time, newspaper film departments have been hit at a breathtaking pace. Critics have recently been laid off, bought out of their contracts or left and were not replaced at the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, New York Newsday and more than 15 papers around the country.

The writer does recognizes that “he Internet has taken up the slack” to some extent, though it is not seen as a ideal substitute. In the end audiences ought to demand more from their papers. If they are not getting the reviews for the films playing at cinemas in their city, they ought to write in and complain to their local paper. Or at least send an e-mail.

Patrick von Sychowski
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