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‘Crawl,’ and six more good movies that didn’t screen for critics

Kaya Scodelario in a scene from “Crawl.” Photo: Sergej Radovic, Associated Press

Releasing a movie without a preview screening for critics is almost always a cinematic admission of defeat.

It’s a tactical move by studio executives to cut losses, because they know their film is horrible by any critical standard, and want to delay word-of-mouth as much as possible.

But there are times when a film rises above its self-hating distribution plan, and is actually … pretty good. And then, above all of those, there is the alligator attack thriller “Crawl,” the “Godfather, Part II” of didn’t-screen-for-critics movies.

With July 12 release “Crawl” currently boasting an 87% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I’ve compiled the best movies that didn’t screen for critics, before paying tribute to their new champion.

Indies that didn’t screen because of economic limitations, and films that didn’t screen to hide spoilers, are not included. (Alfred Hitchcock declined to screen his 1960 film “Psycho,” to preserve the plot twists.)

Also noted: Movies that screened for critics, that were worse than the ones that didn’t.

Dennis Quaid as Gen. Hawk in “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” Photo: AP

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” (2009)

I watched this at a Thursday midnight screening in Alameda, then wrote the review for Friday morning. My final assessment may have been skewed by the two cans of Mountain Dew I drank to stay awake, but it received a solidly lukewarm review. (“As a movie that no one thought would be any good because it’s based on an action figure that isn’t even a foot tall anymore, it succeeds wildly.”)

The filmmakers, who said they passed on advanced screenings in part because critics were so hard on the

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