Bitter Lemons reports that Backstage, the trade publication for actors founded in 1960, is ending all film and theater reviews after this week’s issue. The site’s Colin Mitchell writes that a few final pieces may pop up in the magazine and on its website between now and the end of the month, but after that, no more reviews.
Mitchell quotes Backstage executive editor Daniel Holloway, explaining the decision to eliminate his magazine’s review sections:
“An analysis of metric data by our executive team led to the conclusion that too few readers are engaging our reviews for Backstage to continue to invest resources in producing them. We will be shifting those resources primarily to the creation of additional advice, news, and features content.”
An article in the International Business Times mostly examines the impact this news will have on the theater world, particular for publicity-starved off-Broadway productions, but in recent years, Backstage has also employed film critics like Tim Grierson and Pete Hammond. The most recent — and possibly final? — film review on Backstage.com is for the new Danny Boyle movie “Trance,” written by the site’s New York Bureau Chief Mark Peikert:
“Few glossy thrillers have made the art of editing so palpable, constantly reminding viewers that whole swaths of these characters’ lives are being lived in the moments between scenes and clues are probably strewn throughout that missing footage. As with ‘Femme Fatale,’ one simply sits back for the ride and hopes that things will eventually be cleared up. And as with ‘Femme Fatale,’ the sum of ‘Trance’ is less than its parts.”
If that piece really is the final film review in Backstage, I can’t help but observe “Trance”‘s subject: the value of a piece of art and the value of a human life, and the question of which is worth more in the final accounting. The task of determining the value of film and theater art will now rest with others.