Valkyrie Retort

MGM marketing vp Mike Vollman has replied to the Newark Star Ledger‘s Stephen J. Whitty about the latter’s 11.26 piece called “Valkyrie Surrenders,” in which Whitty posted what seemed like a logical interpretation of MGM’s decision not to show the Bryan Singer-Tom Cruise World War II thriller in time for possible critics awards contention (or for consideration by National Board of Review) by not screening it for junket journalists until December 12th, or to regular critics until December 15th.

“We have a great, strong, commercial movie and are quite proud of it,” says Vollman. “It is also the type of movie that will be deserved of intelligent critical analysis.

“What it does not deserve is to be slammed into the devastatingly cramped and arbitrary year-end critical-awards battles. When did a December release date mean that a film exists first and foremost for award consideration? And when did film criticism become a competitive sport, with deadlines, rankings, winners and losers.?

“We want Valkyrie to be judged on it’s own, not as one of a cramped herd of dissimilar artistic endeavours lumped together unfairly due to the vagaries of the calendar and the marketplace. Valkyrie is eligible for every guild honor, from ampas to ves, and will be on every single nomination ballot. If members of the entertainment community wish to honor it, they will be able to do so. We hope they do as the work is excellent and deserves recognition.”

  • ZayTonday

    No matter how good this movie may be, it’ll get trashed because of Tom Cruise.

  • JD

    If you ask me, it’s the responsibility fo the critics’ groups to see all the year’s movies before making a decision on awards, even if that means postponing their awards until January.

  • The InSneider

    First of all, I think JD is right. It is a critics’ group’s responsibility to see all the movies eligible before making a list. Everyone just wants to be first. It’s silly. Also, there are too many groups. It’s stupid. Every city has its own awards and list? Why? What’s the point? There should be one group of print critics and maybe a second group with the online critics. That’s it. It’s ridiculous. That said, Vollman’s answer is kind of ridiculous as well. While he certainly has a point, about how films are art meant to entertain, not compete, the rest of his statement is bullshit, because as far as I know, UA doesn’t even have any plans to run Academy/guild screening listings in the trades. So it may be on all the nominating ballots but will voters actually have the chance to see it in time considering there are few free screenings. Are they mailing screeners? I have no idea.

  • Sounds like a BS, CYA answer to me.

  • LYT

    “We want Valkyrie to be judged on it’s own, not as one of a cramped herd of dissimilar artistic endeavours lumped together unfairly due to the vagaries of the calendar and the marketplace.”

    So why open it in December? Bring it out in January and it’ll be number one at the box office, guaranteed. Wasn’t it supposed to come out in February originally anyway?

  • roquentin

    It is BS. Only because of his intent – any studio would push a movie they were more certain had Oscar potential, especially an ailing one like MGM. But that doesn’t obscure the fact that he has a very good point. One should be able to divorce the message from the messenger, and this messenger was spot-on in his criticism. It’s a strange paradox that as awards become more and more meaningful in the moment, they are more easily forgotten. We’re a culture addicted to the horse race…it just so happens we care less and less about the horses.

  • corey3rd

    Who the hell cares about the National Board of Review? Any batch of morons with a name and free theater tickets will do compared this little fame sluts.

    Lately even the films that have gotten on the award gravy train haven’t exactly done jumbo box office. The days that the hardware truly meant something when it came to getting butts in the seats are nearly over. The only reason why these critics awards work is the myth of box office from awards of merit. But in the end, if you don’t have a marketing image that works – nobody will give a crap about paying to see your film. All you’ve done is please the biggest pack of freeloaders.

    Any group giving out Awards shouldn’t be allowed to start voting until Jan. 1 when they’ve had a chance to eyeball every film that hit the screen in 2008. Otherwise they’re about as good as a pre-season’s college football poll.

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