Sex and the City 2 and Killers: Do Critics Matter Anymore?

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Bad reviews clearly didn’t hurt the former; the latter has opted not to screen for reviewers at all. What’s a critic to do? Next weekend will mark a huge test for the nation’s film critics. Sex and the City 2 did boffo box office ($32.1 million, second to Shrek‘s $43.3 million) last weekend, in large part thanks to pre-sales that well may have occurred before the nation’s critics came out and lambasted the sequel.

TIME’s Mary Pols said the movie abandoned the basic tone and focus of the TV series. Roger Ebert said the conspicuous consumption of Carrie and company left him creeped out. And yet the movie went on to make tens of millions, thanks to the euphoria of SATC fans who lined up early – and bought tickets in bulk – for the event. (A lucky few also lined up to see the stars outside the dazzling SATC red carpet premiere here in NYC)

But the real test for SATC2 will be this weekend, once the word of mouth from early viewers about this Abu Dhabi road trip adventure finally hits the streets.  Will the movie reach beyond its core fan base? Stay tuned; we’ll see come Friday.

Then there’s the other major title that challenges the relevance of film critics: Killers, this weekend’s big-budget romantic comedy starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. Presumably featuring both as assassins – or maybe it’s just Ashton who’s an assassin…we don’t quite know, nor does anyone else. The film is not being screened for critics, and no reviews will post until well into Friday afternoon, after reviewers have paid to see the movie with the general public.

When films pursue such a strategy, it’s generally assumed that they are clunkers. Why else would they hide?

But when you see box office results like those of Sex and the City 2, which dominated the weekend despite negative buzz, it does lead an outsider to pose the question: How much would it really affect the blockbusters to embrace a no-review philosophy?

Do you often read reviews before seeing a movie? Will the lack of reviews entice you to avoid Killers? Did the bad reviews turn you away from Sex and the City?