Are Film Blurbs Fake? - The Intrepid

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Are Film Blurbs Fake?

Newspaper Ad Mr Fantastic Fox
Sort of.

This week, Slate's Christopher Beam tackled this question and discovered that movie studios frequently fudge, condense, and in some cases completely rewrite reviewers' quotes in order to produce the best possible blurbs. For instance, an ad in Now Magazine called the Fantastic Mr. Fox "Beyond Fantastic. The Best Animated Film Of The Year, And Maybe The Best Film Period." But the actual quote from the Philadelphia Inquirer is: "Fantastic Mr. Fox is beyond fantastic—it's the best animated film of the year, and maybe the best cussin' film, period."

Film blurbs do not have to be verbatim quotes. According to Beam, "There's no official check on running a misleading movie blurb, aside from the usual laws against false advertising." So, studios are free to change and mashup quotes almost anyway they want.

Here are some more examples.

In a review of the Michael Jackson documentary This Is It in Rolling Stone Magazine, Peter Travers said that "watching his struggle is illuminating, unnerving and unforgettable." Traver's quote was changed in a newspaper ad to: "Illuminating and unforgettable."

In 1995, Entertainment Weekly gave the film Se7en a "B," but called the opening credits "a small masterpiece of dementia." The newspaper ads for the movie applied that quote to the entire movie, stating that Entertainment Weekly called it "A Masterpiece." (The ad was later changed after the critic who wrote the review complained.)

I wonder if critics knowingly insert adjectives like magnetic, illuminating, or fantastic into their reviews, because they know they'll be quoted (regardless of the context).

Check out Slate's full article here.

Photo by Stephen M.


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