%% Image selected per Image Pickin' thread: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1358795448060600100
%% Please do not replace or remove without starting a new thread.
%% ZeroContextExample entries are not allowed on wiki pages. All such entries have been commented out. Add context to the entries before uncommenting them.
%%
[[quoteright:259:[[Webcomic/PennyArcade http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/PennyArcade_critics_cropped_6244.png]]]]

->''"We'd love to tell you more about this one, but it doesn't screen for critics until later in the week, which is never a good sign. "''
-->--''RottenTomatoes'', on the [[http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/hansel_and_gretel_witch_hunters/news/1926713/parental_guidance_hansel_and_gretel_witch_hunters/ quality]] of ''Film/HanselAndGretelWitchHunters''.

So it's Friday, and you're considering seeing this new movie that has just Opened In Theaters Everywhere. Before you do, you grab a copy of today's newspaper, and turn to the movie section, looking for a review. Or you check a site like RottenTomatoes or Metacritic to get both their combined metascore and the reviews that come with it.

Instead of a review, you read a notice stating that the film was "not screened for critics." The review compilation sites also have very few reviews and can't compute a review score from it. This is a big warning sign about the quality of the movie. Under normal circumstances, the reviewers would have seen the film already on DVD "screeners" or private showings, and would have had plenty of time to write witty, biting criticism (or just plain vituperation) that ''would have'' completely eviscerated it. The general indication is that the studio doesn't want people to be warned away from the movie prior to opening day.

Another tactic by studios is to allow critics to see a preview screening... with a bunch of contest winners, so that instead of being able to make notes and review a film in a quiet theater or purpose-built screening room, the critic has to do it in a crowded megaplex with people who probably wouldn't have seen the movie at all if they hadn't won free tickets and will probably like it only because they didn't have to pay to see it. Films aimed at kids and teenagers might get a rowdy and rambunctious audience throughout the entire film (worse if it features the TeenIdol of the moment). One of the actors or producers may even make a "[[DullSurprise surprise]]" personal appearance, taking away any sense of a neutral setting (are you going to tell them their film is awful in person?). Many critics thus will easily not take the bait and stay away in droves for their sanity.

This tends to happen a lot during the months of January, February, and late August - the traditional DumpMonths where all the movies in which the studio no longer has faith but which it is contractually obligated to release get dumped, leaving the good months for {{Summer Blockbuster}}s and OscarBait.

This happens with video games as well; most prominent review outlets tend to get copies of games early, and it's telling what the publisher thinks of a game if a website like IGN or Gamespot have to purchase the game themselves on release day. Happens less with big budget games, since they are often cushioned by months of positive preview coverage[[note]]Negative preview coverage is rarer in video games because publishers have more methods of controlling the message than movies do, due to the difference in mediums[[/note]] that have convinced many to preorder the game before reviews are even a factor.

Television is also an area where this occurs - preview [=DVDs=] (formerly tapes) are sent to reviewers so they can write their reviews. Where this does not occur, it is for three reasons:
* It's rubbish.
* It's recorded very close to transmission or is a live broadcast.
* The episode is [[WhamEpisode that dramatic with a massive twist]], that the producers don't want to give the game away.

The number of preview [=DVDs=] being sent out is also slowly decreasing overall, as studios have finally realized where all those pre-theatrical-release DVD rips of blockbusters floating around the internet actually come from. However, this doesn't mean previews stop being sent altogether, just that fewer reviewers are trusted with copies. TV networks also screen their programs over the internet on password-protected sites for critics, although this can also be discouraging (any television critic can tell you that they'd rather do anything else than watch a program on the infamously glitchy {{ABC}} [=MediaNet=] site).

The video game version of this is for companies to not send review copies to publication or web editors, forcing them to dip into their own budgets to obtain a copy of the game to critique. Obviously, this makes the editors even less enthusiastic about reviewing the game.

Compare ItsNotSupposedToWinOscars.
----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Film]]
* SeltzerAndFriedberg's spoofs ''Date Movie'', ''Epic Movie'', ''Meet the Spartans'', and ''Disaster Movie'' all fit this trope.
* ''Film/TheAvengers1998''. The studio even claimed it was putting the film out without previews not because it was awful, but because the studio wanted the public and press to "discover the film together".
* ''Film/SnakesOnAPlane''. They may have skipped screening it based on the logic that next to nobody walking into that theater is going to be swayed by a review, and it was pretty much intentional SoBadItsGood. That and [[BMovie the concept itself]] is anathema for any professional reviewer, pretty much ensuring that a majority of critics will give it a negative review. Somehow, ''Snakes on a Plane'' still managed to get a "Fresh" rating on Rottentomatoes.com, even before the "WTF... this is so dumb" word of mouth came in. A possible case of HoistByHisOwnPetard. Some critics actually embraced the film, but since they could not spread the word-of-mouth to the uninitiated because of the lack of pre-screening, people on the fence stayed hesitant and ''Snakes'' wound up scoring way less at the box office than what the viral buzz indicated.
* Many {{Gorn}} genre flicks fall into this, including the ''{{Saw}}'' franchise, which notably stayed off Richard Roeper's "Worst Movies of 2007" list specifically because of this and the fact that he didn't want to watch them in his free time.
%%* Neither of the ''AlienVsPredator'' films were screened for critics.
%%* None of Uwe Boll's films have been screened for critics.
%%* None of the ''Film/AtlasShrugged'' movies were screened for critics.
* The ''Film/AeonFlux'' movie. Peter Chung, creator of the original ''WesternAnimation/AeonFlux'' TV show, once claimed to have felt "helpless, humiliated, and sad" upon seeing the film adaptation of his work. Apparently, this movie wasn't even screened for ''him'' (his sole allowed contribution was a single hour-and-a-half meeting with the people writing/directing it).
%%* The ''Film/{{Eragon}}'' movie.
* Creator/AlfredHitchcock didn't want any critic to see ''Film/{{Psycho}}'', not because of any worry of quality, but because he didn't want the Plot Twist to leak out. TropesAreNotBad, indeed. And no, that wasn't just his cover story. He actually bought up hundreds of copies of the source novel out of his own pocket, for the same reason.
* ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/24/ parodied this]] when Creator/KevinSmith went on to say that his movie ''Film/JerseyGirl'' wasn't "for critics". In response, Gabe and Tycho created ''Twisp & Catsby'', an aristocratic cat and a demon (yes, respectively) who starred in [[DadaComics completely nonsensical adventures]], concluding the first strip with the panel above. The full quote (which is often forgotten) goes on to say that it wasn't "for critics", it was for his ''daughter'', the person he made the movie for ([[SarcasmMode apparently he gave it a wide theatrical release by ''accident'']]). Ironically, Twisp & Catsby have become [[EnsembleDarkhorse huge fan favorites]] and iconic characters of the comics.
* The 2008 comedy ''Film/AnAmericanCarol'', about a [[StrawmanPolitical version]] of [[Creator/MichaelMoore a certain well-known leftist filmmaker]] being taught to appreciate America after being visited by three ghosts, went unscreened by critics, as its creators claimed it was too conservative for them to appreciate/approve of. Leading some critics to still see it and claim that politics aside, it was just ''bad''.
* Creator/TylerPerry never screens most of his films for critics. Except for his adaptation of ''Theatre/ForColoredGirls''.
* The 2010 action-comedy ''{{Killers}}''.
* ''Film/StreetFighterTheLegendOfChunLi''.
* ''Film/GIJoeTheRiseOfCobra'' was not screened for critics. They had this to say on the matter:
-->"After [[CriticalDissonance the chasm we experienced]] with ''Film/TransformersRevengeOfTheFallen'' between the response of audiences and critics, we chose to forgo opening-day print and broadcast reviews as a strategy to promote 'G.I. Joe.' We want audiences to define this film."
* It's more or less standard practice now for studios to not screen most horror movies for critics, unless it's something like ''Film/DragMeToHell'' or ''Film/{{Oculus}}''. Studios believe critics just universally hate horror films, [[TruthInTelevision and with good cause]].
%%* ''Film/TheOmegaCode''
%%* ''Film/TheWickerMan'' (2006 version)
* Bizarrely averted with the ''Film/{{Bratz}}'' movie which, surprisingly, '''was''' screened for critics, despite what people expected. The result was what you'd think it was.
* 2002's ''{{The Adventures of Pluto Nash}}'' may well have been the genesis of the current trend towards shutting out advance review of particularly heinous filmmaking.
* ''{{Piranha 3D}}'' was not screened to critics in advance. However, it ended up being the [[OverlyNarrowSuperlative best-reviewed movie the week it was released]], with a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes.
* The 2011 "comedy" film ''Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star'' was never screened for critics because everybody knew it was going to be a catastrophe. Swardson himself [[CreatorBacklash would disown the negative reception]].
* ''Film/ResidentEvilAfterlife'' was not screened for critics before being released.
* ''Film/{{Quarantine}}'' and ''Film/{{Devil}}'', which both had the same director, were not screened for critics, but were met with mixed reviews as opposed to universally negative ones.
* The Gwyneth Paltrow film ''Film/CountryStrong''. Bizarrely enough, it also happened to be an OscarBait film.
%%* The movie of ''StarWarsTheCloneWars''.
* ''Film/TheAmityvilleHorror'' (2005) wasn't screened for critics. It was featured on Ebert & Roeper in the then-new "Wagging Finger of Shame" segment, given to movies that weren't available to review.
%%* ''SpyKids: All The Time in the World''.
%%* ''Film/{{Apollo 18}}'' and ''SharkNight'', both of which opened on the same weekend.
* ''Film/{{Abduction}}''. It was screened to Australian critics though, with said critics roundly trashing it.
%%* ''[[Film/PromNight2008 Prom Night]]'' (2008)
%%* ''Film/DreamHouse''.
%%* ''Film/DriveAngry''.
%%* The 2011 version of ''[[Film/TheThreeMusketeers2011 The Three Musketeers]]''.
%%* ''Film/SuckerPunch''.
%%* ''Film/SeasonOfTheWitch''.
* The Roberto Benigni version of ''Film/{{Pinocchio}}'' (2002) in the U.S. Miramax's explanation for this (according to the Other Wiki) was that the English-language dubbing for it wasn't completed in time for advance screenings. Critics who saw it gave it vitriolic reviews. The subtitled version (which was given a limited release two months later) was better received though.
%%* ''Film/{{Ultraviolet}}''
%%* ''Film/{{Immortals}}''
%%* ''Film/BabylonAD''
%%* ''Film/TheDarkestHour''
%%* ''Film/OneForTheMoney''
%%* ''Film/{{Gone}}''
* ''Film/OneMissedCall'', which ended up getting a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
%%* ''Film/GhostRiderSpiritOfVengeance''
* Political documentaries aimed towards conservative audiences (''The Undefeated'', ''I Want Your Money'', ''2016: Obama's America'') tend not to be screened to critics, and if they are screened in advance, usually to small and controlled settings such as a church auditorium or a bought-out theater. The filmmakers or production companies likely do this for similar reasons that ''An American Carol'' wasn't.
** The vast majority of documentaries are never screened for critics simply because they tend to have no studio backing, which keeps them out of the larger theater chains and off the radar of mainstream critics to begin with
%%* ''Film/ChernobylDiaries''
%%* ''Film/TheApparition''
%%* ''Film/HouseAtTheEndOfTheStreet''
%%* ''Film/SilentHillRevelation3D''
%%* ''Film/TexasChainsaw3D''
%%* Neither of the ''Film/AHauntedHouse'' films were screened for critics.
%%* ''Film/HanselAndGretelWitchHunters''
* ''Film/{{Movie 43}}'' was not screened for critics, though they bashed it nonetheless.
%%* ''WesternAnimation/EscapeFromPlanetEarth''
%%* ''Film/DarkSkies''
%%* ''[[Film/TheLastExorcism The Last Exorcism Part II]]''
%%* ''[[Film/ScaryMovie Scary Movie 5]]''
* ''[[Film/SupermanIVTheQuestForPeace Superman IV]]'' was not screened for critics in New York City, and holds a reputation for one of the worst movies in both the series and the genre. It didn't help that one of the film's stars, JonCryer, said that the film wasn't finished.
%%* ''Film/{{RIPD}}''
%%* ''Film/TheLegendOfHercules''
%%* ''Film/IFrankenstein''
* ''Film/VampireAcademy'', according to ThatOtherWiki.
%%* ''Film/HighlanderEndgame''
%%* ''Film/WalkOfShame''
* Since ''Series/MrsBrownsBoys'' was slated by every tv critic going, Brendan O'Carroll decided not to allow critics to see the movie before release.
* ''Film/{{Hercules 2014}}''. Ironically, the reviews were actually quite decent.
* ''Film/TwinPeaksFireWalkWithMe''. However, it did premiere at Cannes three months before release (where it was booed).
%%* ''Film/LetsBeCops''
* ''[[Film/NoGoodDeed2014 No Good Deed]]'', which was hidden from critics ostensibly to protect a major twist in the film. It was soundly bashed by critics upon release.
%%* The 2015 Creator/JohnnyDepp comedy ''Mortdecai''.
* ''[[Film/TheExorcist Exorcist: The Beginning]]'' had no preview screenings, which the studio tried to justify by accusing film critics of having already made up their minds to trash the film due to the controversy over original director Paul Schrader being fired and the film reshot from scratch by Renny Harlin. As it turned out, being accused of bias and ComplainingAboutShowsYouDontWatch did ''not'' make the critics any more kindly disposed toward the film. The eventual release of Schrader's version also didn't get any critic screenings, though that had more to do with it being a token cinema release before it was dumped onto DVD.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' has at times not sent a DVD to reviewers, or omitted closing scenes.
** Apparently, the original preview of "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E13ThePartingOfTheWays The Parting of the Way]]s" hid the fact that [[spoiler: the Ninth Doctor would regenerate into the Tenth Doctor]] by displaying an alternate scene with the Doctor standing before a TARDIS monitor that more ambiguously read "LIFE FORM DYING". Yet the press still leaked the news about Creator/ChristopherEccleston's departure. This alleged cut has not been released to the public whatsoever, and took place in a time that predated the big boom of widely-available social media. All we have is WordOfGod to go by.
** One interesting example was [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E1PartnersInCrime "Partners in Crime"]], where the appearance of [[spoiler:Rose Tyler]] was removed from all the preview tapes and casting documents were altered to remove [[spoiler:Creator/BilliePiper]].
** [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E12TheStolenEarth "The Stolen Earth"]] is a highly notable "Last Scene Withheld Until Transmission" one: [[spoiler: The "regeneration" bit was not on them]].
** The same happened with [[Recap/DoctorWhoS28E12ArmyOfGhosts "Army of Ghosts"]] and [[spoiler:the Daleks]]. The OnTheNext [[TrailersAlwaysSpoil trailer did spoil it]] via a special effects shot, however.
** In [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E17E18TheEndOfTime "The End of Time"]], Part One, the press copy was altered so it ended with [[spoiler:the six billion Masters laughing]], and not with [[spoiler:the Time Lords]]. Part Two wasn't even shown to the press: the script for the final three scenes wasn't shown to most of the cast.
** To quote the on-screen text on its not-previewed final scene, preview tapes of [[Recap/DoctorWhoS33E13TheNameOfTheDoctor "The Name of the Doctor"]]" were not "[[spoiler:Introducing Creator/JohnHurt as the Doctor]]".
** The preview copies of "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS34E11DarkWater Dark Water]]" hid [[spoiler:TheReveal of Missy as the Master]]. In fact, to avoid a potential internet leak (following a fiasco where ''the first five episodes of Series 8'' had their work prints leak online), a dummy scene was shot where she was [[TheUnreveal "revealed" as the Rani.]]
* The 2007/8 Writers' Strike meant that UK listing magazines couldn't review some CSIVerse episodes as they hadn't even aired in the US.
* The producers of ''Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined'' have been known to omit key scenes from reviewer screenings, to avoid twists leaking out. Most recently, the premiere of season 4.5 was screened with its final scene, where [[spoiler: Col. Tigh realizes his deceased wife was a Cylon who he'd known on Earth in a past life]], left out.
* Teen and Children's shows are pretty much never shown to critics, which means unlike other genres, they can often keep a tight hold on any storylines when they choose to keep them secret.
* Creator/DanSchneider has used this to his benefit on ''ICarly''. He managed to keep secret the cliffhanger ending to ''iOMG'' for what had to have been over a year by filming on a closed set with a minimum of cast and crew.
* Several car manufacturers have refused to lend the ''Series/TopGear'' team new cars to test.
** One of the most notable would be the City Rover, which still appeared on the show as James May went to the dealer for a test drive while wearing a hidden camera and microphone. It was, unsurprisingly, considered one of the worst cars they'd ever featured.
** A high contender would also be the American muscle car special, where the makers refused to loan the show a Dodge Challenger. They got around this obstacle by ''buying'' one, and Richard Hammond went on to give it an enthusiastic endorsement.
** It's alleged that the Dacia Sandero (a central European light SUV-type) was actually canceled for the UK market because ''TopGear'' spent an entire series mocking it regularly. Ironically when he got to test-drive one during the Romanian special, James May loved it. Also ironically, it had to be an abbreviated test because Clarkson and Hammond arranged to have the Sandero [[spoiler: smashed by a semi-truck]] hours after May got it.
** On one of the show's road trip specials, Bentley pulled their Mulsanne out at the last minute when they decided that the special's theme ("Ideal luxury cars for the leading lights of Albanian organized crime") was loaded with UnfortunateImplications. Since buying (and insuring) a Bentley of their own was well outside the budget, instead the part of the Bentley Mulsanne was played by an ''extremely'' used Yugo. This led to constant criticism from all three presenters about what a shoddy product Bentley is putting out these days.
** In a subversion, despite not only refusing to provide cars to the show, but also banning James May from entering the company premises, [[http://www.bristolcars.co.uk/ Bristol Cars]] are quite highly praised by the presenters even though it is far from what they normally prefer in a car.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Vivendi Universal refused to send ''Magazine/ElectronicGamingMonthly'' (EGM) a copy of their GameBoyAdvance [[TheProblemWithLicensedGames game of]] TheFilmOfTheBook of ''Film/TheCatInTheHat'' because they "didn't want {{Seanbaby}} making fun of it." It didn't work, needless to say. After having to pay for a review copy, Seanbaby was all too pleased to lay into the game and its creators with his [[http://www.seanbaby.com/nes/issue176.htm most scathing reviews]]. It's also a form of InsultBackfire because Seanbaby's section at the time was called "Seanbaby's Rest of the Crap", with emphasis on "Crap" - it was, at the beginning and end of his run, his job to review the games that were so shitty that they actually merited their own scale because any review of it placed in the section for reviews proper would be "kill it with fire"; so saying "We don't want Seanbaby to make fun of this game" is essentially saying "We're aware of how bad our game is, but are delusional enough to think we can fool people".
* Creator/{{Activision}} did not send any review copies of ''Tony Hawk: Ride'' prior to release. Instead, a weekend before release, they organized a Family Fun / Review Event, which, due to the obvious attempts at essentially bribing the reviewers, many reviewers such as [[http://www.gamespot.com/news/6240528.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=picks&tag=picks;story;5 [=GameSpot=]'s]] declined the invitation. They did something similar for ''ModernWarfare2'', but unlike ''Ride'', ''Modern Warfare 2'' was well received. It really didn't help that ''Ride'' was controlled by a clumsy skateboard peripheral which was savaged by most reviewers and buyers. The game now goes for a 75% discount of its original $120 sticker price in bargain bins everywhere.
** ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' had fun with this one, too, when Tony claimed that everyone who said bad things about ''Ride'' decided they hated it before they even bought it. [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/12/14/ Tycho]] [[SarcasmMode totally agreed that people tend to spend $120 on things they think they'll hate]].
* Games magazine ''Magazine/AmigaPower'' had the frankly odd idea of using the whole percentage scale in their reviews and [[FourPointScale not just giving a game an 80% score for existing at all]]. This made them a number of enemies among other magazines and game publishers, who stopped sending them review copies.
* Square Enix did send out copies of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIV'' to critics, but also asked them not to give out their reviews until they'd fixed some of the bugs before releasing it. Naturally, since the game was already on store shelves, most didn't feel like playing along and gave decidedly negative reviews, [[ObviousBeta and for good reasons]]. The game was so bad that Square Enix had no choice but to make the online subscription free until they fixed it, something that the new director, Yoshida, [[WinBackTheCrowd actually managed to do with ''A Realm Reborn'']] (aka Final Fantasy XIV 2.0). It did take him 3 years though.
* According to Metro's gaming supplement, Gamecentral, review copies of games often get "lost in the post." They become more wary of a game when this happens, since they are known as being among the more strict game reviewers.
* Rednar, the public relations firm for Creator/GearboxSoftware, threatened this in light of negative reviews for ''VideoGame/DukeNukemForever''. [[LaserGuidedKarma Gearbox promptly fired them]].
* While Seven45 Studios did send copies of ''VideoGame/PowerGigRiseOfTheSixString'' as well as their touted [=SixString=] guitar peripheral out for review, they did not send their [=AirStrike=] drum peripheral to reviewers. The few who bought their own [=AirStrike=] to review noted that the peripheral looks nothing like a drum kit, and its operation was very finicky at best to completely nonfunctional at worst due to a complete lack of tactile feedback; the player ''had'' to use the "special" drumsticks that came with the peripheral and ''hold them in a specific way'' in order for the unit to register a "hit" on a "drumhead".
* There were no review copies sent out for ''RideToHellRetribution'', for reasons that became obvious when the game finally released and was universally panned by critics.
* With ''[[Franchise/TheSims The Sims 4]]'', EA refused to provide a review copy (and many gamers thus expected the worst). However, when it released to the public, most critics actually quite liked it and gave it modestly good praise.
* ''{{Destiny}}'' was withheld from being given to reviewers due to Bungie wanting them to wait until the game was released due to its social aspects. While the game ultimately didn't turn out bad, it wasn't considered to be as great as it was expected to be.
* Creator/{{Sega}} declined to send any review copies of either ''VideoGame/SonicBoom'' game to major reviewers prior to the launch date, though some advance copies were sent to a select number of fansites. Given the games' negative status among the fanbase as [[TheProblemWithLicensedGames tie-in games made to advertise]] [[WesternAnimation/SonicBoom the animated series of the same name]] and a lukewarm pre-release reception from critics, it's not hard to see why Sega pulled this move. The games had also received [[InvisibleAdvertising barely any advertising]] in the months leading up to the games' release. Needless to say, critics outright trashed both games once they were able to obtain copies for review purposes; though reception to ''Shattered Crystal'' was somewhat more favorable than ''Rise of Lyric'', which ended up being the ''worst-reviewed'' Sonic game to date, receiving critical aggregate scores ''even lower'' than the [[ObviousBeta largely derided]] ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006''.
[[/folder]]
----