The New York Post's Lou Lumenick has revealed that Sony has decided not to allow movie critics to screen the Marvel-based Ghost Rider movie before it opens in theaters on next Friday (February 16th). Not all the signs surrounding the release of the Johnny Blaze epic are bad -- Sony has mounted an extensive advertising campaign for the film (though some fans have objected to a campy tongue-in-cheek element in the ads)--but bypassing the movie press raises a definite red flag. It may have been unnecessary since action-packed comic book screen epics tend to be 'critic-proof' anyway if only because the teenage/young male demographic that attends this kind of films doesn't spend a lot of time reading reviews in newspapers or magazines.
Since Sony reportedly has already invested $120 million in Ghost Rider, the studio's caution is understandable, though it certainly sends out a bad signal, a black cloud that is only intensified by the fact that the film's release was postponed for eight months (never a good sign), and director Mark Steven Johnson has yet to demonstrate mastery of the comic book adaptation in his previous efforts in the genre, Daredevil and Electra. Of course the film could end up doing well, but at this point it wouldn't appear prudent to bet the 'outhouse' on the film's success, much less the farm.