The New York Times’ decision to change its movie review policy — no longer guaranteeing that its critics will offer their take on every film that opens in NYC — is bad news for independent and documentary filmmakers and distributors who count on the notice to build their films’ profiles.
The paper will still review studio films, according to an internal email obtained by Variety Thursday, and would continue to review as many new films as it could, but noted that decisions would be made on a “case by case basis.”
“Because of the increasing volume of new films released each year, the Times is no longer able to guarantee reviews of all New York theatrical releases,” A.O. Scott, the Times’ chief film critic, wrote to film companies.
The paper’s long-established policy has been a boon for smaller film production and distribution companies, whose art house and awards-type films benefit from the wide exposure they’d otherwise not receive in many cases.
The move was disappointing to Paul Davidson, senior vice-president, film and TV at the independent media company The Orchard, but could be overcome, he felt.
“We believe the scope of our releases and quality of the films will still fare well within that new policy,” he told TheWrap.
The decision will also affect the documentary feature category of the Oscars, which requires a review in either the New York Times or L.A. Times for consideration, as well as a theatrical release. The movie “wouldn’t necessarily require a rule change,” an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokeswoman said, because films that were reviewed by the L.A. Times would still qualify.
Also impacting the Times’ decision is the emergence of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon and the increasing ease of digital film production, which has resulted in a major surge in the number of movies of all sorts produced each year. Many are vanity projects or films from aspiring producers that would not previously have seen a theater screen. For those that do, a review in Times had brought an extra bit of legitimacy.
42 Summer Movies on Our Radar: From 'Avengers,' 'Jurassic World' to 'Magic Mike XXL' (Photos)
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" - May 1 The elite superhero team -- including Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans -- assembles again in this follow up to the 2012 blockbuster.
"Welcome to Me" - May 1 Kristen Wiig stars in this indie drama about a woman with borderline personality disorder who buys herself a cable access talk show after winning the lottery. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produced.
"The D-Train" - May 8 Jack Black plays the head of his high school reunion committee who must convince the most popular guy in his class (James Marsden) to attend the reunion in this Sundance pic.
"Maggie" - May 8 Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this indie as a father who stays with his daughter (Abigail Breslin) as she transforms into a zombie.
"Hot Pursuit" - May 8 Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara star in this buddy comedy about a straight-laced cop (Witherspoon) tasked with escorting a witness (Vergara) to her trial
"The Connection" - May 15 Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin stars in this French crime thriller as a real-life policeman who dedicates his career to taking down a drug lord (Gilles Lellouche)
"Mad Max: Fury Road" - May 15 Tom Hardy takes over the role that made Mel Gibson an international star in this reboot from the madcap mind of George Miller
"Pitch Perfect 2" - May 15 Anna Kendrick returns for the song-filled sequel to the 2012 musical smash hit.
"Poltergeist" - May 22 Sam Rockwell leads a remake of the 1982 horror classic that was originally written by Steven Spielberg.
Twentieth Century Fox
"Tomorrowland" - May 22 George Clooney and Britt Robertson star in a sci-fi fantasy about a man and woman who must discover the secrets of a strange land lost in time and space.
"Aloha" - May 29 Cameron Crowe directs Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone in a romantic comedy about a military contractor overseeing a satellite launch in Hawaii.
Columbia Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox
"San Andreas" - May 29
Dwayne Johnson stars in a disaster movie about a chopper pilot who must rescue his daughter (Alexandra Daddario) after a massive earthquake strikes California.
"Entourage" - June 5 Vince (Adrian Grenier) drives Ari (Jeremy Piven) up the wall when he decides to direct and star in his own movie in the big screen version of the HBO show.
"Spy" - June 5 Melissa McCarthy co-wrote and stars in a comedy about a CIA analyst who gets her chance to work in the field when an arms dealer (Rose Byrne) threatens to destabilize the world.
Twentieth Century Fox
"Insidious Chapter 3" - June 5 In this horror prequel, psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) agrees to help teenager (Stefanie Scott) who is being targeted by a supernatural force.
"Jurassic World" - June 12 Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas-Howard lead the latest installment in the Michael Crichton-inspired series. This time around, the park is terrorized by a genetically-engineered dinosaur that escapes its enclosure.
"Me and Earl and The Dying Girl" - June 12 This 2015 Sundance Grand Jury winner follows an anti-social teen (Thomas Mann) who falls in love with a classmate (Olivia Cooke) who has leukemia.
"Dope" - June 19 This Sundance breakout centers on a teen (Shameik Moore) trying to make his Ivy League dreams come true in his tough LA neighborhood.
Open Road Films
"Inside Out" - June 19 Pixar takes us inside the mind of a little girl as her emotions vie for control. Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader all lend their voices.
"Ted 2" - June 26 Seth MacFarlane's foul-mouthed teddy bear returns in the sequel that finds Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) and John (Mark Wahlberg) fighting in court to prove that Ted is human.
"Batkid Begins" June 26 This feel-good documentary tells the story of a five-year-old leukemia patient who inspired people from all over the world to help him live out his dream of being Batman for a day.
"Max" - June 26 A Marine-trained German shepherd is sent to live with the family of his former handler (Robbie Amell), who was killed in Afghanistan
"Big Game" - June 26 A teenage-boy (Onni Tommila) rescues the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) when Air Force One crash lands near his campsite.
"Magic Mike XXL" - July 1 Channing Tatum gyrates his way into this sequel as stripper "Magic" Mike who decides to attend an annual stripper conference in Myrtle Beach.
"Terminator: Genisys" - July 1 Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as the unstoppable android as he fights to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) with the help of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney).
"Minions" - July 2 The Minions are back in this "Despicable Me" spinoff. This time, they are recruited by a super-villainess (Sandra Bullock) in her plot to take over the world.
"The Bronze" - July 10 "Big Bang Theory" star Melissa Rauch co-wrote and stars in this comedy about a former Olympic athlete clinging to her last shreds of fame.
"Self/Less" - July 10 Ryan Reynolds stars in this thriller about a wealthy, dying man who pays to have his consciousness transferred into a younger body. When he begins to investigate where the body came from, he discovers a terrifying mystery
"Ant-Man" - July 17 Paul Rudd leads this Marvel comic adaptation about a con man who is given a device that can shrink him in scale by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).
"Trainwreck" - July 17 Amy Schumer and Bill Hader star in a Judd Apatow comedy about a magazine writer (Schumer) who refuses to commit, until her relationship with a doctor (Hader) challenges her notions of monogamy.
"Stanford Prison Experiment" - July 17 Based on the infamous 1971 psychological experiment, 24 male students volunteer to play prisoners or guards in a mock-prison, only for things to spiral completely out of control.
"Paper Towns" - July 24 Based on the novel by John Green, Nat Wolff plays a boy who convinces his friends to embark on a road trip to find the missing girl next door (Cara Delevingne).
Twentieth Century Fox
"Pixels" - July 24 Adam Sandler leads a team of gamers (Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage) who must fight aliens that invade Earth in the form of classic video games.
"Southpaw" - July 24 Jake Gyllenhaal packed on the muscle for this drama about a troubled boxer fighting to regain custody of his daughter. Antoine Fuqua directed based on a script by Kurt Sutter.
The Weinstein Company
"Irrational Man" - July 24 Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone star in a Woody Allen film about a college philosophy professor (Phoenix) who enters into a relationship with his student (Stone).
"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" - July 31 Tom Cruise once again does the impossible as he leads his team against an international syndicate intent on destroying the Impossible Mission Force.
"End of the Tour" - July 31 Jesse Eisenberg stars as Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky as he conducts a series of interviews with author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel). The film is based on Lipsky's book, "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself."
"Fantastic Four" - August 7 Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic), Michael B. Jordan (Human Torch), Kate Mara (Invisible Girl), and Jamie Bell (The Thing) lead this comic adaptation about the superhero team that gained powers after an accident in space.
Twentieth Century Fox
"Masterminds" - August 7 Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudekis and Zach Galifianakis star in this heist comedy about a real 1997 armored car robbery in North Carolina
"The Man From U.N.C.L.E." - August 14 Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play an American and Russian agent forced to team up to stop an evil organization trying to steal nuclear weapons. The film is based on the 1964 TV series of the same name.
"Straight Outta Compton" - August 14 O'Shea Jackson Jr., the son of Ice Cube, plays his father in this look at the impact of the revolutionary gangster rap group NWA.
"Hitman: Agent 47" - August 28 Rupert Friend stars in this video game adaptation about a genetically engineered assassin who teams up with a mysterious young woman to bring down an evil corporation.
Twentieth Century Fox
1 of 43
TheWrap Summer Movie Preview 2015: ”Mission: Impossible 5,“ ”Entourage,“ ”Mad Max: Fury Road“ also among season’s big releases