Kevin Smith vs. The Critics

After receiving a mauling from critics for his previous film, Cop Out, Kevin Smith is determined to get his own back during the release of his new film, Red State. I haven’t seen Cop Out but considering it was a buddy cop comedy starring Bruce Willis and Tracey Morgan I’m not about to go disputing its 19% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

After buying the rights to US distribution for the film from himself for $20, snubbing distributors who had turned up to the auction, Smith planned to tour the film personally around the US. It now looks like he’ll be giving the US public access to his film via Video On Demand and then a regular DVD release through Lions Gate Films. One thing he won’t be doing is letting the press see it for free.

Kevin Smith is a firm believer that only his fans should see his films for free, not critics who will judge it objectively (or as near as possible) before then promoting it for free in all the media outlets that cover film releases. This all became perfectly clear on Monday when he turned his sights on the UK film critics.

Outside of the US, Smith took a less hands-on approach and sold distribution rights. In the UK this was to eOne, a distributor yet to realise the brilliance of Mild Concern. On Monday night, hours before a scheduled press screening of Red State, Kevin Smith caught wind on Twitter of UK critics about to attend and promptly called eOne to cancel. The screening was “postponed” so that he could kick various critics from the guest list in place of fans willing to enjoy anything he puts out, regardless of quality.

As I mentioned we aren’t on eOne’s mailing list and weren’t invited to the screening but we do pity any company who paid for the rights for a film but aren’t being allowed to promote it. Fans can only help a film so much, there is a point where blind praise becomes harmful and a 3-star rating in the Telegraph will get more bums on seats than a sycophantic review on a film nut’s blog. (cough)

If you make a bad film you open yourself up to bad reviews and for a film there is no greater publicity than a glowing review in all forms of press. Kevin Smith can do what he likes with his films and fair play to him for bypassing the usual distribution system, but eOne should not have to deal with his meddling when their job is to create a buzz about his new film. They say all publicity is good publicity but I don’t even know what the film is about.

Critics are important, it’s why they’re put on posters rather than a tweet sent to the director. Don’t get mad at the critics Kevin Smith, and eOne… send us an email.

ETA: For details of things we got wrong, see the angry comment below…