For those who like to read between the lines and be informed about such matters, in keeping with recently established end-around tradition for both much of its in-house product and horror movies in general, no matter the rating, 20th Century Fox will not screen Alexandre Aja’s Mirrors for critics.
Disappointing, but no big shock, really. What’s notable is that this tack of cloak-and-dagger anti-publicity didn’t at all help The X-Files: I Want to Believe, which grossed one-third of the opening weekend haul of its 1998 predecessor, or Eddie Murphy’s Meet Dave, which bombed to the tune of a $5.3 million bow. Each of those films screened in highly selective, opt-in fashion, just like The Happening. Yet despite the clearly demonstrated lack of success in prying first-weekend filmgoer dollars out of wallets merely by airwave promotional carpet-bombing, 20th Century Fox seems intent on pursuing this strategy. The dirty truth is that while things are changing, yes, and there is a “wild west” element to film criticism on the Internet, you still have to get down and do the dirty work — all the foot-soldier stuff that publicity involves. An air war alone (or trying to “message manage” through a couple corruptible sites) won’t win out for a full year’s slate.