Hollywood Uplink – December 2006: Behind the Scenes of a Pre-Release Movie Review

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December 2006

        Issue: 15:12

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Behind the Scenes of a Pre-Release Movie Review
by Dick Rolfe, co-founder – The Dove Foundation

For 15 years, The Dove Foundation has been working to build a positive relationship with the movie studios in Hollywood.  As a result, many filmmakers consider an endorsement from Dove to be a real value when marketing movies to the family audience. Several major studios are even sending films to Dove’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan several weeks before their release dates, and at great expense*.  The goal is to receivethe Dove “Family-Approved” Seal and use it as part of their publicity campaign.The concept seems simple enough; send a 35mm print to a local theater and notify Dove reviewers of its arrival. However, the process is complicated by the fact that the studios are extremely protective of their properties. The average motion picture in 2005 cost $96 million to make and market.

Movie piracy has also become a major problem, and is costing the studios a bundle.According to a published statement from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), “The worldwide motion picture industry … lost $18.2 billion in 2005 as a result of piracy.”

It’s no small wonder then that the studios want to keep close track of each and every film. Getting an early print to a theater in Grand Rapids is quite involved. These movies won’t be seen by the general public for several weeks after the Dove screening, which increases the risk of piracy.

The studio flies the film from Hollywood to Grand Rapids with a bonded courier. When the film arrives, it is signed for by an authorized agent of the local theater. A security company guards the film to ensure its proper handling. An agent watches as the projectionist splices the reels into a single film and threads it into the projector.

The security agents are also assigned the task of searching the theater itself, looking for any “photographers” that might be hiding there. Guards stand outside the theater doorway and wand everyone who enters, making sure no cameras, camera phones, recording equipment, or unauthorized personnel enter the area. Screening by TSA agents at an airport terminal is a breeze compared to this.

One might think it ends there, but the security guards are just beginning their duties. They even go so far as to use night vision goggles, and continuously scan the theater to make sure no one made it past the primary screening with an undetectable recording device. One of the guards also remains in the booth with the projectionist for the same reason.

It’s hard to imagine how anyone could possibly get past such a tight wall of security and film a movie for the black market. Even with these precautions, however, it is not unusual to see street vendors outside a theater with pirated DVD’s of a movie on opening day.

After passing all the security checkpoints, the Dove review team screens the film. Each reviewer rates the content from 0 – 5 (Sex, Language, Violence, Drug/alcohol use, Nudity, and Other inappropriate behavior.) They also make notes of their overall impressions of the movie’s message and production quality, e.g., directing, acting, cinematography, storyline, etc.  The reviewers return to the Dove office to discuss their findings, compare notes and reach a consensus. Then, one of the members is chosen to write up the review, which is posted at www.dove.org for all to see. Films that win approval often display the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal as an assurance to movie-goers that the content is recommended for family audiences.

Check out these upcoming movies that Dove
reviewed in advance of their release dates.

At The Dove Foundation, we consider it a great privilege to serve you with comprehensive movie reviews tailored especially for caring families. Over 140,000 of you checked our reviews in October alone. We appreciate your feedback. Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we’re doing and to hold us accountable. Use the comments form at: http://www.dove.org/contact.asp.


*Editor’s Note: While the studios do go to great expense by sending us their movies for early screenings, Dove does not receive any direct subsidies from the movie studios for our services.  Doing so could leave the impression that we might take money in exchange for a favorable review, and that would damage our reputation as “Keeper of the Dove Seal,” free from commercial pressures.  Over 95% of our financial support comes from the “grass roots;” that’s people like you who benefit from the movie reviews and other valuable information we provide on a timely basis. Won’t you consider making a generous contribution to The Dove Foundation as this year comes to a close? We would be grateful to know that you are behind us with your prayers and financial support.To find out how to make a donation, go to: http://www.dove.org/donatenow.asp

Thank you!


The Dove Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Our mission is to encourage and promote the creation, production, distribution and consumption of wholesome family entertainment.  We are supported primarily by donations from families such as yours who want to move Hollywood in a more family-friendly direction.  All donations are tax deductible.
Copyright © 2006 The Dove Foundation. All rights reserved.