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Spielberg Blasts Test Screening Practice


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#1 of 32 JJR512

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Posted February 18 2003 - 06:54 PM

Quote:
Spielberg Blasts Test Screening Practice
World Entertainment News Network

Hollywood heavy-weight STEVEN SPIELBERG has slated the age-old practice of test-screening new movies - claiming they are no help to directors.

The MINORITY REPORT filmmaker argues that, in his experience, such events have been of no assistance and they can even lead movie bosses to make the wrong decisions in editing films.

He says, "I stopped testing six years before the internet was invented. I just found that the test screenings for HOOK, ALWAYS, THE COLOR PURPLE and EMPIRE OF THE SUN didn't teach me anything. In fact, it got me to cut things out to please the audience that I wouldn't normally cut out.

"An audience might respond negatively on a Wednesday night, so you'd make all these changes, but you could take that same film and show it to a different audience on the following Friday and get a positive reaction.

"To make an assumption that 400 people on a Wednesday night can tell you where you've gone right and where you've gone off, is not representative of how your film will be perceived across America."
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#2 of 32 Jan Andersen

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Posted February 18 2003 - 07:25 PM

He says, "I stopped testing six years before the internet was invented.

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#3 of 32 John^Lal

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Posted February 18 2003 - 07:55 PM

Steven Speilberg...i must say he has directed some of my favorite movies of all time. he was the master of story telling, and the adventure film. Since Saving Private Ryan, i have felt that he has left his drive at home and has been regurgitating known methods of success. his latest movies have all felt to have ideas/feelings forced on me I think like all big time directors who have already earned their keep get their heads a little big and think anything they direct will be a massive film success because it came from him. Obviously this isn't as prevalent in Spielbergs movies as it has been in George Lucas' movies, but i think everyone needs to look around them and see how there ideas jive with everyone else...in otherwords, i think a director's idea for something should never be law, and maybe this 'screening is no help to directors' may be true for most, some may need to be kept in check because their heads have swelled TOO BIG
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#4 of 32 Andy Sheets

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Posted February 19 2003 - 12:24 AM

Quote:
Hollywood heavy-weight STEVEN SPIELBERG has slated the age-old practice of test-screening new movies - claiming they are no help to directors.

"Age-old"? I thought test-screening was a relatively recent concept?

Anyway, I'm glad that Spielberg spoke against it since I think it's a bad idea that contributes to bland filmmaking.

#5 of 32 Peter Apruzzese

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Posted February 19 2003 - 01:11 AM

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"Age-old"? I thought test-screening was a relatively recent concept?
No, it's been used for a very long time. 1942's THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS is just one example of a film that was tested and then altered (and ruined, in this case) because of test screenings.
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#6 of 32 Matthew Brown

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Posted February 19 2003 - 01:45 AM

Test screenings are also used by Miramax so they can have people watch foreign films and be told that they need to be dubbed in English. They also mislead the audiance and fail to mention that some of these films have been finished for as much as 10 years and have already had a succesful run EXCACTLY in the form that they are currently.

Test Screenings are digusting and vile. This is Joe Six Pack rising to the occasion when he gets his chance to have a say in how a movie is made. What is worse, the studios listen to them! Imagine test screeings for DVD's? They would all be pan and scan.

Speilberg is absolutely correct in what he says. Do painters create works and then display them asking for opinions so they can make changes?

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#7 of 32 Ted Lee

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Posted February 19 2003 - 02:02 AM

i agree 100% with spieldberg. his example of a wednesday showing versus a friday showing is perfect.

how in the world can one (more or less) random group hold so much weight? who says that they're right and the production team is wrong?

a director shouldn't be forced to second-guess his audience. he needs to make the film he wants to make.

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This is Joe Six Pack rising to the occasion when he gets his chance to have a say in how a movie is made. What is worse, the studios listen to them!


amen to that....
 

#8 of 32 Scott Weinberg

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Posted February 19 2003 - 02:18 AM

"To make an assumption that 400 people on a Wednesday night can tell you where you've gone right and where you've gone off, is not representative of how your film will be perceived across America."

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Well said, Mr. S.!!

#9 of 32 Mark Zimmer

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Posted February 19 2003 - 02:24 AM

The Marx Brothers even in their earliest films used test screenings extensively (of course, the practice is more useful in comedy to gauge laughs, etc.).

#10 of 32 Scott McGillivray

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Posted February 19 2003 - 02:36 AM

Well, I think the best example of a test screening gone bad had to be with Mel Gibson using Homer Simpson to help alter the ending of the re-make "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington."


Oh wait...that was a cartoon. Wasn't it???
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#11 of 32 Lew Crippen

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Posted February 19 2003 - 02:51 AM

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The Marx Brothers even in their earliest films used test screenings extensively (of course, the practice is more useful in comedy to gauge laughs, etc.).
Don’t forget that in their earlier. most successful films, many of the bits had been honed in front of live audiences. They got immediate feedback, not questioners filled out.
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#12 of 32 Matthew Brown

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Posted February 19 2003 - 02:53 AM

Speaking of Mel Gibson, does anybody know if it was test screenings that decided the fate of Riggs at the end of LEATHAL WEAPON II or was it just a decision based on the promise of sequels?

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#13 of 32 ThomasC

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Posted February 19 2003 - 02:54 AM

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Well, I think the best example of a test screening gone bad had to be with Mel Gibson using Homer Simpson to help alter the ending of the re-make "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington."
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#14 of 32 Phil L

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Posted February 19 2003 - 04:53 AM

I'm glad he's bashing the screening process but I remember him talking about how a screening of Raiders was helpful in editing. Specifically, he edited a few worthless seconds in after Indy shoots the swordsman to give the audience a chance to laugh without missing what happened next.

#15 of 32 Brook K

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Posted February 19 2003 - 05:00 AM

The test screening process is both criticized and shown positively in the 1954 version of A Star Is Born
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#16 of 32 EricW

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Posted February 19 2003 - 05:35 AM

i think the only time i've known a director to champion test screenings was Michal Bay. most directors HATE test screenings; i remember reading/hearing once that director Barry Sonnenfeld once shared a plane ride with the head of the test-screening firm and told him "if this plane goes down at least you're going to be on it" or something to that effect.
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#17 of 32 Jason Seaver

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Posted February 19 2003 - 06:16 AM

Huh. I'd heard Sonnenfeld was one of the guys that found the test-screening process somewhat useful.

I seem to recall James L. Brooks finds it useful, too - there was an article or two around when I'll Do Anything came out that cutting all the songs out hurt, but that by the time a movie was shot and cut, he felt he was too close to the material to know what was working and what wasn't.
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#18 of 32 Dome Vongvises

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Posted February 19 2003 - 07:09 AM

The only test screenings that should take place are the ones at the box office.

#19 of 32 Colin Jacobson

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Posted February 19 2003 - 07:19 AM

Quote:
No, it's been used for a very long time. 1942's THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS is just one example of a film that was tested and then altered (and ruined, in this case) because of test screenings.


IIRC, the Criterion DVD for one Hitchcock film - Rebecca? - mentions testing and includes some of the notes...
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#20 of 32 John^Lal

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Posted February 19 2003 - 07:28 AM

Godfather had a test screening, and because of it's tight budget studio nerves were tense before screening. after everyone said how great it was, coppola earned more lienancy for his production.
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