Reviews for Aloha embargoed

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Sony Pictures was blocking reviews of Aloha until just a few hours before moviegoers saw it last Thursday. But at least one was already in, from the studio's recently departed chairman. She called it "ridiculous".

Ms Amy Pascal, forced out after a cyberattack on Sony computers revealed racist jokes she made in e-mails about President Barack Obama's taste in films, wrote to colleagues last November that the Cameron Crowe feature "makes no sense" and "never, not even once, ever works".

That could explain the muted marketing campaign for Aloha, starring Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone, and the lack of glitzy red-carpet premieres.

Mr Phil Contrino, chief analyst at, said the signature evidence of Sony's desire to curb exposure to any it-is-a-bomb fallout is the restriction on when reviews can be posted. Critics always agree to limits, but they are usually lifted days before a movie opens.

"To embargo reviews to the night before the film is not usually a good sign," he said. "If the studio has confidence in a film, they will be happy to have critics comment on it."

Aloha - about a defence contractor in Hawaii who falls for an Air Force pilot - cost almost US$40 million (S$54 million) to make. It was to open in wide release yesterday and is expected to collect US$14 million over the weekend and between US$30 million and US$35 million during its run in theatres in the United States and Canada, according to That ticket revenue is split with exhibitors.

Possibly more distressing for Sony than having a dud is that "every time a film comes out that was in the e-mails, that will mean people will talk about the hack again", said Mr Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture.

The leaks from the cyberattack last year that the FBI linked to North Korea - which may have been insulted by the Sony comedy The Interview that depicted the assassination of dictator Kim Jong Un - offered rare insight into the workings of a Hollywood studio and exposed often embarrassing exchanges between Ms Pascal and others. She left the studio in February after 12 years as its head and is now an independent producer on the Sony lot.

Mr Tom Rothman, Ms Pascal's successor, said the studio is "very proud of the film" and called Crowe "one of the great writer-directors of our generation and a master of the smart romantic comedy, which seems to be a lost genre these days. Aloha is rich in his signature humanism".

Probably best known for 1996's Jerry Maguire, Crowe wrote and directed Aloha and produced it with Scott Rudin.

At a media screening in Los Angeles last Tuesday, Crowe made a brief appearance on stage, drawing laughs when he said he realised some private conversations about the movie had become public.

After Mr Pascal's harsh internal critique of the film was dispatched, some scenes were reshot, according to a person familiar with the situation.

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