The Equalizer 3: Sony Only Screened For NY/LA Press

Denzel Washington and Director Antoine Fuqua on the set of Columbia Pictures THE EQUALIZER 3 in Italy. Photo by: Stefano Montesi. © 2023 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

While I was looking forward to initially watching The Equalizer 3, Sony Pictures has decided not to screen for film press beyond NY and LA.

The review embargo lifted this morning. Unfortunately, I did not rush home from a screening to write a review for publication. This is because I’m not one of the select press living in NY or LA. Losing out on a franchise film hurts especially at a time when films are being pulled during the double strikes.

Sony Picture Releasing’s decisions coming out of the pandemic has been rather frustrating to say the least. More often than not, one could attend a press screening if they lived in New York or Los Angeles. Everyone else was SOL. More often than not, NY/LA screenings were at the last minute. They are still early enough for film press to see the film and write a review. Unfortunately, they’ve decided that non-NY/LA film press were not worthy of screening 65, The Machine, Big George Foreman, Love Again, and now The Equalizer 3. There are other film titles that escape me at the moment. Thankfully, they did screen Spider-Man: Across the Universe and No Hard Feelings. They also screened Gran Turismo ahead of two promo weekends and a wide release.

A film completely hidden from press usually means that it is not good. But when a film screens for select press prior to the review embargo lifting, it typically translates to the same elitist bullshit that Warner Bros. pulled when Wonder Woman 1984 launched with a Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The WW84 launch saw the film go from Certified Fresh to Rotten in a matter of days after launching day-and-date. In the case of Sony Pictures and The Equalizer 3, it screened in NY and LA yesterday for all-media. While writing, I learned that one NY-based critic wasn’t invited. When I last looked, The Equalizer 3 was sitting at 53% on 15 reviews. It’s not a good percentage but the review number would be closer to 50 with a larger number of film press watching the film.

When I learned that it wasn’t screening here, I thought, fine, Sony knows that they have a terrible film so they’re hiding it from us. But choosing to screen for critics in NY and LA and then to skip everyone else? What the hell was Sony Pictures thinking?!? Press live beyond the two markets. Please wake up and realize this. Not everyone can afford to live in New York and Los Angeles. Larger outlets can cover the film because they have people living in NY or LA. This isn’t the same for everyone else. What happened to the push for diversity in criticism? Those days appear to be over because Sony is being elitist in choosing who gets to cover the film at launch. It’s the same behavior that led to Warner Bros. being called out in 2020. It’s why I’m calling out Sony Pictures today.

The film’s release comes as the WGA and SAG-AFTRA remain on strike. This is a franchise film so one would think that box office is automatic but that’s not always the case. We’re already seeing films underperform from actors not making the rounds on the late night comedy talk shows. Without Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, or David Denman doing press or promoting on social media, Sony has to depend on director Antoine Fuqua. Fuqua isn’t enough when the studio is only screening the film for select press.

I should not have to live in NY or LA to do a job that can be done all across the country. The pandemic made access easier for film press but then the studios decided to revert back to their old ways. Or in the case of Sony Pictures, they have made the decision that they don’t care for film press beyond New York or Los Angeles. Sony better not pull this elitist stunt again with Dumb Money or Ghostbusters. They end up hurting themselves more than they think.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.