When is a “sneak” preview not exactly on the down low? When it’s going to be in at least 800 theaters nationwide, possibly more, and announced ten days before it’s going to happen. 20th Century Fox are feeling very, very confident about Cameron Crowe‘s “We Bought a Zoo” and they are looking to start getting the word out a full month before its wide release in theaters next month. But sorry critics, you’ll have to line up with the unwashed masses.
Citing strong test screenings across the country from the flyover states to the big cities, Fox is eager to get kids and families together on November 26th during the Thanksgiving weekend to see the film. And that’s not all. The studio is teaming with social networking video site Tout (never heard of it) to encourage audiences to share their post-screening thoughts, and a broader campaign will include a live Q&A with Crowe and more. So yeah, this ain’t your average sneak preview.
But as Jeff Wells notes over at Hollywood Elsewhere it’s also a very calculated plan by the studio to get positive buzz built up before (presumably) sour critics, deep in the awards season thick of things, get their claws into a movie that is shaping up to be something populist and more mainstream than the arthouse and foreign film fodder that is also headed to theaters. Led by Matt Damon, and based on a true story, the film follows Ben (Damon), a single father who attempts to fulfill his late wife’s wish of moving their family to the titular animal sanctuary, along the way coming across the possibility of moving on thanks to a beautiful, dedicated zookeeper (Scarlett Johansson). Cute animals and Jonsi singing ensue, followed most likely by tears and a big heart-warming finish. Again, nothing wrong with that, but easy to see why Fox wants this in front of audiences first.
But if you’re too busy shopping for Grandma, cooking turkey, or reveling in your pyjamas watching a marathon of “Storage Wars,” you can catch up with “We Bought a Zoo” when it opens wide on December 23rd. And oh yeah, here’s a new poster for the film courtesy of IMDB. It’s amazing. [THR]