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“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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