Ebert drops some hints as to why good movies get short shrift from younger viewers (the crowd that has long been associated with avid moviegoing):
... despite "The Hurt Locker's" impressive box office success, "younger moviegoers are not flocking to the film, which could limit its ticket sales." The obvious implication is, younger moviegoers don't care about reviews and have missed the news that "The Hurt Locker" is the best American film of the summer. There is a more disturbing implication: word of mouth is not helping the film in that younger demographic. ... apparently those younger viewers who have seen it haven't had much of an influence on their peers. While the success of the film continues to grow as it steadily increases its number of theaters, the majority of younger filmgoers are missing this boat. Why is that? They don't care about reviews, perhaps. They also resist a choice that is not in step with their peer group. Having joined the crowd at "Transformers," they're making their plans to see "G. I. Joe." Some may have heard about "The Hurt Locker," but simply lack the nerve to suggest a movie choice that involves a departure from groupthink.
There's much more, all of it worth reading, and particularly resonant with anyone who has felt like they are hemmed in my the terminally incurious.
Something else that Ebert mentions, the business about stars being kept on short leashes, I found particularly saddening. One of the things I loved most about interviewing Richard Epcar or Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (not "names", but people with talent and strong followings) was how there was none of that nonsense about pre-screening the discussion. You got to talk to them like human beings, and get equally human responses. You asked the questions that came into your head, and if some of them were stupid, then you had to endure the actor telling you "That's a dumb question" — not to mention the possibility of being razzed by your own cronies.
The "professional" side of the business seems to be distinguishing itself from everything else by dint of how much overprotection it builds into everything. Well, of course: you're trying to get the most revenue with the least losses, and it's hard to do that, you think, without insuring that every step is stage-managed to death. But in the long run, that's a formula for creating a whole industry that can't take it on the chin. The end result is more movies that don't get screened for critics, more thoughtless automatic booking, more movies made for the supply chain and not for any conceivable audience, and a whole lot of junk.
I miss the days when you could have a movie like The Old Man and the Sea come out and have Papa Hemingway himself snarl "No movie with a goddamn rubber fish in it ever made a dime." Only he didn't use the word "goddamn", if you know what I mean.