Although Atlanta moviegoers packed theaters to see home boy Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married, the local newspaper Atlanta Journal Constitution‘s Movies & More section focused on George Clooney’s new movie, Michael Clayton. Instead, Perry’s movie wasn’t reviewed before its opening weekend and garnered only a small mention on a “Picks for the Weekend” list. So angry readers complained, leaving it to AJC public editor Angela Tuck to explain. Sounds like it was Perry’s own fault:
“Movies & More editor Tom Sabulis had a good explanation: There was no review of Perry’s movie because Perry didn’t allow critics to pre-screen it. In fact, Perry rarely allows critics to get an early look at his work. ‘Nine times out of 10, they’ve never been kind to me on any of my films,’ Perry told the AJC in a February article.
“In Monday’s Living section, the AJC did run a review provided by one of our wire services. Reviewer Scott Von Doviak gave Married a C grade. The review’s headline: ‘Why did I go see this movie?’ That divergence between reader and critic reaction is exactly why AJC movie writer Bob Longino enjoys doing his “First Look” column, where he attends a movie screening and watches the audience’s reaction. He used that approach when he watched an earlier, unfinished version of Married with an Atlanta audience. That piece appeared on accessatlanta.com and in the Sept. 29 Living section. ‘I see Hollywood comedies all the time,’ he said. ‘They don’t get this kind of reaction. It was a lot of fun to watch because the audience just went crazy.’ With Perry’s strong fan base, he doesn’t need reviews to get audiences out, said Sabulis.
“According to Longino, a movie critic typically focuses on the quality of the movie’s acting, how true to life it is, its editing and music, among other things. Reviewers also bring personal tastes and values to bear. But even without a review in hand, the AJC should have done more to acknowledge the opening of Perry’s new film. He’s a local artist whose popularity is undeniable.”