Usually, this means the movie sucks and has a built-in audience anyway, so who cares what those stupid reviewers think? This, according to the story, is an odder move, as this is the final big-time action movie of the summer. It's not surprising based on the critical reaction to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which apparently causes brain aneurysms to explode but is still in the top ten of highest-grossing movies of all time. So why screen G. I. Joe for critics when it's going to get trashed anyway and will probably still make a boaload of money?
Of course, the reviewers who have seen the movie have been mostly positive (although "If I was [sic] ten years old, G. I. Joe would be one of the best movies I had ever seen" becomes less positive when you consider that most of the people who will see this movie are probably older than ten), so it's not necessarily about avoiding negative reviews. It's about the increasing gap between "elitism" and "egalitarianism" in this country - Paramount wants "the audience to define" G. I. Joe, which means they believe reviewers only like artsy-fartsy movies and couldn't possibly turn their brains off long enough to appreciate the greatness of G. I. Joe and besides, those reviewers all probably hate the United States and would be scornful of the in-your-face patriotism of G. I. Joe. U! S! A!, bitches!
I don't want to go all Roger Ebert in this post, I just wanted to point out that if this works, there's no reason for movie studios ever to screen movies for critics anymore. Screw them all! The stupid thing about this, really, is that if a studio throws money behind a project and advertises the shit out of it, of course it will do well, at least in its first weekend. Transformers seems to have bucked that trend (although I wonder how much Megan Fox has to do with that; I guess Paramount is hoping Sienna Miller provides the same thing), but there are plenty of movies that do well in the first weekend and then drop off the map, but at least they recoup their costs.
Comics are a bit of a different animal, in that money and advance advertising don't necessarily play a huge role. However, it's still a pertinent theme, as Marvel and DC have something different but as insidious: a stable of characters that appeal to fanboys' nostalgia. Stupid reviewers like me, who absolutely cannot stand crappy superhero comics (which is different from hating superhero comics, although some of my critics don't get the distinction), get raked over the coals because I can't see how freakin' awesome it is that some writer is using some awesome character from the Sixties (or Seventies or, increasingly, the Eighties). Whenever I read a review of a big-time superhero comic (and they're not hard to find), there's usually at least one comment that either rips the reviewer for not liking the awesome character used therein or reads something like, "Well, I had to turn my brain off, but I liked it." Heck, I turn my brain off all the time. You know when? When I'm watching television, which is largely free (or at least cheaper than my annual comics budget). If I'm paying for something, I'm certainly not going to waste my 4 dollars on shit like Ultimatum. But that's just me.
Anyway, I just found the idea of Paramount going around the reviewers to appeal directly to the "heartland" (that's what the article says) interesting. If I lived in Des Moines, I'd be offended that Paramount thinks I'm dumber and more blindly in love with my country than those pillow-biting socialists in New York and Los Angeles, but whatever. Maybe this strategy will put stupid anti-American reviewers out of business forever!!!!!!