A mere four or five years ago it was all but unheard of for a Hollywood studio not to screen a major blockbuster in advance for critics. Back when I first started reviewing movies, in the early aughts, I could count on one hand the number of major theatrical releases which weren’t screened for the press each year. Since then, studios have discovered that potential moviegoers are easier to manipulate into seeing bad movies, if there’s no one around to warn them, and refusing to screen movies for critics has become commonplace whenever Hollywood has a real stinker on its hands. Word of mouth will kill these movies eventually, but only after they’ve made big opening weekend box office generated by tricky advertising campaigns.

So here’s the latest addition to the not screened for the press wall of shame: Killers. It’s the Katherine Heigl/Ashton Kutcher, husband and wife spy movie and the AP says critics won’t be allowed to see it. There’s still time for them to change their mind but I can confirm that, so far at least, we here at Cinema Blend haven’t been invited to screen it either.

Of course their spin on the issue is the same, tired, worn out “reviews don’t matter anymore” sales pitch we’ve been hearing for at least a decade now. That might hold more water, if studios ever refused to screen movies which were, you know, actually good. Since so far it’s only bad movies being hidden from the press, I think we’re safe in declaring that particular theory to be exactly what it is: bullshit.

This could also explain Lionsgate’s marketing campaign for Killers which has seemed as though it’s primarily targeting extremely pregnant women; presumably because they’re hoping this potential audience is too busy making babies to be savvy enough to catch on to how terrible this movie looks. Now they won’t have critics to warn them either.

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