Stossel: Movie Ads Have Fakery

When Sony's Vertical Limit came out, the ads for it made the movie sound great.

One Sony ad pointed to a rave review from Dave Manning of the Ridgefield Press, in which he said, "Movies don't get more exciting than this."

Did you see The Animal? It was awful. Rolling Stone said the movie "reeks." But Manning called it "Another winner!"

Critics called Hollow Man "garbage" and "rotten to the core." Manning liked it.

How could he rave about all these lousy movies? Easy. Because Manning doesn't exist. He was invented by Sony Pictures. The Ridgefield Press exists. It's a paper in Connecticut that never noticed it was being used in movie ads.

When the press called Sony on its fakery, Sony apologized, and said it would never do it again.

Viewer 'Testimony'

If we cannot trust reviews, can we at least trust those "testimonials" from people coming out of theaters? No. Turns out there's been deception there, too.

You've seen those ads, where real people coming out of the theater tell you how great the film was. The commercials say things like: "Audiences all across America are raving about the most romantic film of the year. On the way out of the theater, moviegoers enthusiastically say, "It's powerful," "fantastic," "fabulous," "great film for the holidays," and "I love it."

It's convincing when you watch the commercial, but last year Sony and three other studios admitted to The Wall Street Journal that in those ads, they've mixed real moviegoers with paid actors. The other studios wouldn't talk with us, but Sony and Artisan say they are not doing this anymore.

When Blair Witch 2 came out, The Orlando Sentinel called it "a movie virtually everyone can hate." But the "moviegoers" in the commercial raved about how good it was.

Give me a break.

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