‘Gosnell’ Producers Question Scant Media Coverage in Letter to National Society of Film Critics

By Emily Ward | October 22, 2018 | 2:13 PM EDT

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(CNSNews.com) -- The producers of “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer” sent a letter to the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC) last week questioning the scant coverage of their movie by film critics.

“Despite our making the film available through our publicist to any and all film critics who wished to review the film, on opening weekend only two publications, The Los Angeles Times and Forbes chose to review the film,” “Gosnell” producers Phelim McAleer, Ann Mc Elhinney and Magdalena Segieda wrote on Monday, Oct. 15 to NSFC Executive Director Liz Weis.

“This was in contrast to other films which came out the same weekend who were reviewed by 70-280 publications,” the producers added.

Four more critics have reviewed the movie since the letter’s publication, making for a grand total of six, according an Oct. 21 post on the “Gosnell” Facebook page.

“Gosnell” tells the true story of the trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in 2013 of murdering three babies outside the womb and found guilty of the death of a woman in his clinic due to an overdose of sedatives.

In their letter, the producers expressed shock at the refusal of film critics to cover “Gosnell,” and pointed out how the lack of reviews could increase distrust of the media among readers.

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“His [Gosnell’s] trial became a national talking point after it went mostly uncovered by the national media amid allegations of bias. It is astonishing and concerning that the film criticism section of many of these same outlets are following the lead of their news divisions in now apparently refusing to cover the movie based on these events,” the producers wrote.

“In an age in which there is increasing distrust of the media as fair and objective arbiters of information, this lack of reviews, positive or negative, only adds to the belief that the members of your profession are not serving your readers,” they wrote.

The producers also asked for clarification of the NSFC’s policies.

“While we obviously understand that in a free country like the United States no publication is under any obligation to review anything they choose not to, we write to ask for clarification as to what your group’s policies and standards are and by what criteria these decisions are made,” they wrote.

According to its website, the NSCF “counts among its members many of the country’s leading film critics. Its purpose is to promote the mutual interests of film criticism and filmmaking.” The Society, whose members are elected, “represents movie criticism in the United States by supplying the official critic delegate to the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress and abroad by supplying the official American representative to FIPRESCI, the international federation of members of the film press.”

Despite very little attention from the mainstream media, “Gosnell” did well at the box office in its opening weekend. CNSNews.com reported that the film “took in the 12th highest box office receipt total in its opening weekend, breaking into the top 10 on Sunday,” Oct. 14.

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On Rotten Tomatoes, a popular online hub for movie reviews, “Gosnell” earned a positive rating on the ‘Tomatometer,’ with an average rating of 6.8 out of 10 from critics. The film’s audience score is 98%, indicating that 98% of Rotten Tomatoes users “liked it.” The average user rating for the film was 4.9 out of five stars.

This weekend, the Daily Wire reported that many movie theaters dropped the film in spite of clear interest from audiences.

“Despite the solid performance of an independent film of this sort, nearly 200 theaters have inexplicably dropped the film, including those in major cities where it was performing the strongest,” the Daily Wire reported.

“Conversely, the filmmakers have received varying reports of theaters actively preventing customers from buying a ticket by not advertising the film or declaring it ‘sold out’ before capacity is reached,” the story continued.

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“Gosnell” marketing director and producer John Sullivan told the Daily Wire that “it’s hard to believe it isn’t about the content of the movie.”

In their letter, the “Gosnell” producers offered another possible explanation for the media blackout of their film: sexism.

They wrote, “in a day and time in which the way female filmmakers have been unfairly treated in the past in Hollywood is coming to light, we believe many Americans will want to know what role if any, sexism may have played in the predicament our film faced since two of our three producers were women and whether a film coming from male producers would have been as summarily ignored as ours was.”


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