In the entertainment industry, there’s a golden rule for running movie reviews: You don’t do it until the week the movie hits theaters (or until the studio says you can run it, whichever comes first) in the interest of promoting the film at the appropriate time, keeping it fresh in potential viewers’ minds, etc., etc.
This especially applies for Big Deal Blockbusters/Maybe, Possibly, Could-Be Oscar Contenders. Which is why the people behind “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” are freaking out about The New Yorker running its review of the film a whopping eight days before it was supposed to.
New Yorker critic David Denby screened the film under the agreement that he’d hold his review until at least December 13. But, as he explained in a heated email exchange with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” producer Scott Rudin, the latest issue of the New Yorker lacked a film review, a lot of other awards contenders are coming out this month, and he wasn’t about to write about “We Bought a Zoo.”
“So we had a dilemma,” Denby wrote in an email obtained by Indiewire.com. “What to put in the magazine on December 5? Certainly not ‘We Bought the Zoo,’ or whatever it’s called. If we held everything serious, we would be coming out on Christmas-season movies until mid-January. We had to get something serious in the magazine. So reluctantly, we went early with ‘Dragon,’ which I called ‘mesmerizing.’ I apologize for the breach of the embargo. It won’t happen again. But this was a special case brought on by year-end madness.”
Rudin called Denby’s defense “nonsense.”
“Your seeing the movie was conditional on your honoring the embargo, which you agreed to do,” he wrote. “The needs of the magazine cannot trump your word. The fact that the review is good is immaterial, as I suspect you know. You’ve very badly damaged the movie by doing this, and I could not in good conscience invite you to see another movie of mine again.”
The whole exchange and ensuing online debate might be dramatic enough to warrant its own script. Aaron Sorkin, are you listening?