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Fox keeps a lid on `Simpsons Movie'

The studio won't screen the film until days before it opens to thwart Internet gossip.

July 13, 2007|Gina Piccalo | Times Staff Writer

Some critics won't get a look at "The Simpsons Movie" until three days before it opens nationally, a strategy Twentieth Century Fox is using to preserve the film's plot from Internet pirates and scoop-hungry movie bloggers.

The film, which "Simpsons" fans have awaited for years, is set to premiere in Westwood on July 24 with a wide release on July 27. Fox is hosting screenings for most critics and reporters on July 24, 25 and 26.

The late screening has prompted speculation that "The Simpsons Movie" isn't all that its gargantuan marketing campaign has promised. A Fox spokeswoman denied those rumors Thursday.

"Anybody who's needed to see the film has already seen it," said the spokeswoman, who asked that her name not be used. "We're not concerned about audience response to the film. The audience response has been overwhelming."

Traditionally, studios have screened movies for critics weeks in advance with the understanding that reviews would be held until opening day. A studio's refusal to hold early screenings for critics was generally taken to mean its executives thought their film was a dud. Today, however, studios are faced with online critics who post reviews moments after they exit the theater. Later screenings now help a studio control its online press.

"We've gotten away from anyone adhering to a review date," said the Fox spokeswoman. "These screenings are set up as courtesy screenings. Too much commentary on plot points before the film's release doesn't preserve the audience response."

gina.piccalo@latimes.com

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