Film Publications Refuse to Review ‘New Mutants’ Until Disney Offers Safe Screening Options

Film publications such as The A.V. Club, The Boston Globe, and RogerEbert.com will not review Disney’s “The New Mutants” this week after the studio did not make screening links available or offer socially-distanced press screenings to film critics. IndieWire is also declining to review the film for these reasons. The only option Disney is giving critics to review “The New Mutants” is to attend public screenings, which remains a health risk amid the coronavirus pandemic. Most theaters permit moviegoers to not wear masks when eating or drinking concession items, for instance.

A.V. Club film critic A.A. Dowd published an essay on the morning of August 25 explaining the publication’s decision not to review the film, noting scientific experts who confirm that going to movie theaters remains one of the more unsafe activities to do during the pandemic.

“[Science experts] did not mince words: There’s a very good chance you could get sick. And that’s a risk The A.V. Club will not be taking to review a movie, any movie,” Dowd wrote. “We are, in fact, adopting the official policy of only reviewing films our writers can safely watch, whether in a socially distanced press screening or with a digital screener. And yes, that applies to all our writers, even those willing to take the risk for an assignment, because we’re not willing to monetize that risk, either.”

RogerEbert.com editor Brian Tallerico followed with his own statement, writing on Twitter, “We also will not have a review of ‘The New Mutants’ because there’s no safe way to do so. We will review theatrical releases when presented with a safe way to do so – screener or socially distanced screening – but that’s not an option in this case.”

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Tallerico noted that RogerEbert.com might review the film once it becomes available on VOD platforms. The Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr also took to Twitter to announce the publication would not be reviewing “The New Mutants” this week.

It’s not out of the ordinary for film studios not to screen films in advance for critics, especially the titles studios know are destined for bad reviews. Such seems to be the case for the much-delayed “The New Mutants,” an X-Men spinoff film from writer-director Josh Boone that stars Charlie Heaton, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Maisie Williams. Pre-coronavirus, film publications would’ve had no issue sending critics to public screenings in order to review “The New Mutants.” As Dowd noted in his essay, “these are not normal times” and such a move is unsafe.

Unlike “The New Mutants,” Warner Bros. did hold socially-distanced press screenings for “Tenet” in London and thus a handful of reviews dropped online last week. Even then, however, publications such as The Los Angeles Times and IndieWire attached disclaimers to the reviews encouraging moviegoers “to follow the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities” before going to theaters.

IndieWire has reached out to Disney for further comment.