Why Movie Blurbs Avoid Newspapers

By Reina, Laura | Editor & Publisher, August 31, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Why Movie Blurbs Avoid Newspapers

Reina, Laura, Editor & Publisher

YOU'VE SEEN THE "blurbs" splattered across newspaper movie display ads: "This film is a masterpiece!" "Powerful, gripping -- the earth moved!" "Hilarious! You'll laugh, you'll cry."

What you don t see very often is a newspaper movie critic's name attributed to these quips. More often, quotes come from people who, ironically, aren't critics at all and who work for broadcast outlets or specialty publications.

Interestingly, the absence of newspaper blurbs isn't an oversight. Newspaper movie critics around the country are aware that their witticisms are often excluded from these ads, but they aren't complaining. "It's not that you never see newspaper critics -- just most of the time," remarked Kenny Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times.

"I'd rather see less blurbs, and less newspaper people who have written them," he added.

To condense to a blurb a review that took a lot of time to write isn't something Turan appreciates.

It's a devaluation of what I do or what any critic does," he said.

A lot of the people you quoted in movie ads are "blurbmeisters," and those 12 words you see in the ad may be the only words they've written about the movie, said Turan.

One reason broadcast people are quoted more frequently is that they're less critical, Turan said.

Movie studios always look for the most positive reviews and view critics as unruly adjuncts of the publicity department, he said.

There's usually a typographical difference between the blurb and the attribution, the critic noted.

Blurbs are meant to get audiences into the theaters. The words are chosen to entice audiences, and do not necessarily reflect a review's conclusion. Turan advised readers to consult the criticisms, not the blurbs.

"You're in trouble if you only read the blurb," he concluded.

Jeff Strickler, movie critic for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, feels broadcast people get quoted more often because they're willing to give advance quotes "because there is more pressure on broadcast media to promote themselves.

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