Condensing / compiling a commentary from Fincher, so I wanted to throw something out separately your way before I will upload what I’m working on in the coming weeks. David Fincher gives his thoughts on the topic.
Here’s another perspective on test screenings from Andrew Dominik
I like test screenings. I like to see a movie with an audience of strangers. I think it tells you a lot. It’s very difficult to lie to yourself about certain things. I’m not necessarily convinced about how information is gathered and I don’t think the credence that’s given to it is valid. When you ask a bunch of people to see a film, and then invite them to comment on it and tell them it’s a work-in-progress, they feel bound to offer an opinion. Also, the kind of people who go to test screenings are people that have time to go see a free movie. What they object to is anything that’s unusual about a film. Anything that’s memorable about a movie is often what a test audience will object to because they’re being asked to be experts. They just compare the film they finished watching to all of the other films that they’ve seen. Films that score very high with test audiences generally tend to not be so great. But, there’s a lot of money involved in making movies and it’s a way for people to reassure themselves, who have spent money, and it’s also a way to work out how to market a movie. It’s also a way to really clear up confusions in a film. That’s important. As a filmmaker, it’s important to sit there and feel embarrassed. If you feel embarrassed by something, you cut it.
P.S. I might do something similar I did with McTiernan’s commentary, with the next Fincher compilation, there’s a few bits where I may particularly make it screen-specific for better comprehension of what he’s talking about.