The tricky business of film review embargoes2
December 7, 2011 by Jorge Ignacio Castillo
David Denby goes down the rabbit hole by breaking Sony’s embargo on publishing reviews of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo before its release date.
His early review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is here.
And his justifications are here.
Slate.com did a nice write-up of this mess here.
Which are you: Team Denby or Team Rudin?
Despite being an avid reader of The New Yorker, I’m definitely on Team Rudin.
Someone’s word has to be golden or it becomes empty and valueless. In fact, it becomes an outright lie.
Advanced screenings are offered to press as a courtesy so that they can have time to file their reviews, particularly those whose publications require longer lead times. This is done on trust. When that trust is broken, it not only affects the studios, but also the other critics who chose to keep their word.
I’m quite surprised that a publication like The New Yorker would do this and I think that under the circumstances, Rudin maintained quite a bit of restraint and professionalism in his note to Denby. There is nothing tricky about an embargo. Nor is there anything tricky about keeping your word. You either do, or you don’t. Denby didn’t.
The whole notion of embargoes is something to be argued on several levels, but that IS kind of moot after one has agreed to abide by specific agreements. This wasn’t a misunderstanding of a vague deadline, so DD knew what he was doing. And now that I’ve seen his top-10 list—Return to Planet of the Apes?—I have reason to be concerned for his mental health.