October 26, 2016
        Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for "Fences"                Mel Gibson to be Honored with the Hollywood Director Award at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams        

“We Bought a Zoo” Thanksgiving sneaks are brilliant – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: Critics too often complain when studios choose not to screen their features for review. Opting not to screen sends one message: “Our movie stinks.” One particular awards-hopeful drama decided against pre-screening in my market, a move that always raises red flags. If you have confidence in your film, show it. If you don’t, hide it.

So, the more I thought about 20th Century Fox’s decision to sneak-peek Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo” over Thanksgiving weekend, the more I admired it. Yes, the move is unprecedented. While Lionsgate experimented with paid sneaks for its Oscar-worthy “Warrior,” these “Zoo” sneaks will be held nearly a month before the film’s Dec. 23 opening. But an early screening shows extreme faith in Crowe’s family-friendly drama about a man (Matt Damon) who moves his family to a tract of land in Southern California that houses a defunct zoo. And now, more than anything, I’m hoping Crowe hit a home run so families across the country can experience something magical next weekend.

“Once in a while, we’re lucky enough to have a picture to which audiences of all kinds and all ages respond so strongly, that it demands a big and unexpected event. ‘We Bought a Zoo’ is that kind of picture — and Thanksgiving is a great time to share it via this special very early preview,” Fox president and chief marketing officer Oren Aviv said.

There’s a practical reason to the move, of course. This Christmas season is JAM packed with high profile releases, from David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” to Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” sequel. Steven Spielberg has two films coming out Christmas week. Anything Fox can do to get ahead of the holiday crush is appreciated.

“I think I’m the one getting the early holiday gift,” Crowe said. “Holding previews so far ahead of our opening is a bold movie — but that’s one of the many reasons I like it.”

Totally agree. I sincerely hope it works out for Crowe, the studio, and this film.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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