Because 20th Century Fox is going for their collective corporate masters degree in radio silence and media manipulation, they didn’t send out invites for M. Night Shyamalan’s new film. In fact, they’re holding two screenings of The Happening today on their lot, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., but I’ve been caught up in other things, forgot to reach out and prod them to confirm, and now just have too much else going on today to drive across town and wreck the rest of my schedule.
They’re usually pretty decent about ‘fessing up to these “opt-in” affairs, Fox, but I’ve had a pair of other folks with legitimate reviewing interests tell me they were either turned down for admittance, or flatly told that the movie wasn’t at all screening. I can’t get a firm read on what this means for The Happening specifically — trying to just run up the opening weekend gross since they know/feel they have a turkey, or protecting some arguable narrative twist — since Fox’s new modus operandi seems to be to angle for the quietest release possible anyway. (Exhibitors were also forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement in advance of screening the movie, a highly unusual and punitive move.) There may soon be a day when the studio just accidentally forgets to ship prints of a film, and releases something straight to DVD not necessarily because they meant to all along, but because someone using the logical extension of their publicity rubric figures that’s a good way to slip a film past an audience as well.