Movie reviewers are boycotting the first big movie to return to theatres since COVID

The teenage X-Men spinoff film The New Mutants was originally expected to be released in April of 2018. But that date kept getting pushed back — over reshoots, corporate licensing debates between Disney and Fox, and ultimately, COVID-19. The film will finally be released in theatres this coming weekend.

No one will be there to review it, however.

From The AV Club:

A few days ago, we reached out to Disney and were informed by representatives of the studio that they would not be providing press with either an advance screening of the film or a digital review link. In other words, the only way critics will be able to see The New Mutants is if they buy a ticket and go to a theater, just like everyone else. In normal times, that's exactly what we'd do: Studios will sometimes decline to screen a movie in advance of its public premiere—often, it must be said, when they're afraid that reviews will be negative enough to hurt attendance. (Maybe The New Mutants is a train wreck. Or maybe Disney just thinks it is.)

But these are not normal times. Last week, we published an interview with scientific experts on the dangers of going to the movies now, during a pandemic that is in no way under control. They did not mince words: There's a very good chance you could get sick. And that's a risk The A.V. Club will not be taking to review a movie, any movie, even one that will satisfy our burning curiosity about a long-delayed comic-book blockbuster that sounds more like A Nightmare On Elm Street III: The Dream Warriors than First Class. We are, in fact, adopting the official policy of only reviewing films our writers can safely watch, whether in a socially distanced press screening or with a digital screener. And yes, that applies to all our writers, even those willing to take the risk for an assignment, because we're not willing to monetize that risk, either.

IndieWire, The Boston Globe, and are joining in this boycott as well.

Reviews can be a great form of publicity, and at a time when theatres are probably going to be having trouble filling seats to begin with, it's a strange choice for a movie studio to refuse to cooperate with those reviewers who might entice moviegoers to risk their lives for a glimpse of Dani Moonstar's Demon Bear on the big screen. Granted, reviews can also be bad publicity for a film; but so can a deadly virus.

I stand by my initial reaction: "THE MOUSE DEMANDS A BLOOD SACRIFICE."

In the meantime, I highly recommend the original run on New Mutants from the 1980s. I started from the beginning around Christmastime last year, and I've been genuinely impressed with how well it tackles some still-very-topical political issues, through the veil of superpowered teen angst. I didn't even mind Chris Claremont's purple prose; and I guarantee that big screen CGI Demon Bear will be nothing compared to Bill Sienkiewicz's art.

The New Mutants finally opens this week. Here's why we're not reviewing it [AA Dowd / The AV Club]