Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The strange story of the Jack and Jill press show.

Here’s an odd one. Every now and then, some distributor will fail to screen a film for the press in this territory. More often than not the movie will be shown to our cousins across the Irish Sea. A good …

Mon, Feb 6, 2012, 22:04

   

Here’s an odd one. Every now and then, some distributor will fail to screen a film for the press in this territory. More often than not the movie will be shown to our cousins across the Irish Sea. A good example is the recent Liam Neeson thriller The Grey. It is not unreasonable for readers to assume that the film in question must stink like last week’s socks. They’re usually right. But, quite often, the reason is pure meanness. The Grey, for example, has actually got fairly decent reviews. What a nuisance!

But not for viewers in the UK.

In over a decade at this job I cannot remember an instance where a mainstream film was screened for the Irish critics, but not for their UK colleagues. Until now. Look about the British papers this week and you will find no notices for Jack and Jill, Adam Sandler’s latest atrocity. Yet the fine people at Sony Ireland (good for you, folks) ¬†unspooled the picture for your current correspondent and his fellow hacks. I really wanted to reward their professionalism by giving Jack and Jill a good review. But, well, it’s a film in which Adam Sandler plays an annoying man and his more annoying sister. It would have been an appalling dereliction of duty to lead you astray.

What’s up? Well, it is worth noting (and regretting) that Mr Sandler’s pictures do significantly better on the island of Ireland — they particularly love them in Larne and Lisburn, incidentally — than they do in what Peter Robinson calls the mainland. Even though the reviews were bound to be awful, it may have been deemed worth the risk to make sure Irish Sandlerphiles were aware he was doing his awful thing in the nation’s blameless cinemas.

Different rules apply in different territories. Note, for instance, that studios very often fail to screen horror films for American critics, but show them to Europeans. This surely stems from an interesting distinction between the reviewers on either side of the Atlantic. American pundits have never taken horror seriously. We are — in that regard at least — a bit more open minded.

Obviously, domestic readers will be furious that they are left unable to peruse fascinating reviews in their soaraway Ticket. But does the lack of screenings have any effect on box-office returns? Not at first. But, as Tara Brady pointed out in a recent Rotten Potatoes column, such films do tend to flag after a few weeks. You watch. Jack and Jill will do much better here than it does in the UK. Oh, hang on. That would have happened anyway. We’re bleeding idiots in that regard.

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