Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin has banned David Denby, a critic from the New Yorker magazine, from all future press screenings of his films after Denby broke a review embargo on David Fincher‘s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (US)
- Production year: 2011
Rest of the world, USA
- Cert (UK): 18
- Runtime: 152 mins
- Directors: David Fincher, Niels Arden Oplev
- Cast: Daniel Craig, Lena Endre, Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Peter Haber, Robin Wright, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgard, Sven-Bertil Taube
The New Yorker will publish their review (an abstract of which is here) in this week’s edition of the magazine, breaking the agreed-upon embargo by more than a week. Emails from Rudin to Denby (obtained by Indiewire’s Playlist blog) describe Denby’s decision to review the film, which is released in the states on 26 December, as “a very, very damaging move”. “I could not in good conscience invite you to see another movie of mine again,” Rudin said. Among the forthcoming Rudin productions Denby will likely miss are Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedy, The Dictator, the Coen brothers Inside Llewyn Davis and Martin Scorsese’s planned Sinatra biopic.
In response, Denby, whose positive review describes Fincher’s film as “a bleak but mesmerising piece of film-making”, cited a combination of the business’s skew-whiff release schedule and increased pagination for leading him into temptation.
“The system is destructive,” he said. “Grownups are ignored for much of the year, cast out like downsized workers, and then given eight good movies all at once in the last five weeks of the year. A magazine like the New Yorker has to cope as best as it can with a nutty release schedule … Like many weeklies, we do a double issue at the end of the year, at this crucial time. This exacerbates the problem.”
Denby also laid blame on the New York Critics Circle, who requested an early screening of the film to accommodate their annual awards ceremony, before apologising for the breach, citing “year-end madness”. His apology was rejected by Rudin. “If you weren’t prepared to honour the embargo, you should have done the honourable thing and said so before you accepted the invitation,” he said in reply. “The glut of Christmas movies is not news to you, and to pretend otherwise is simply disingenuous.”
Review embargoes are increasingly becoming a point of contention. They are seen as a vital way to manage press coverage of key titles by those responsible for marketing a film, but can seem redundant in an era when advances in social media and increased scrutiny of the film-making process feed public appetite for movie news.
Once an embargo is broken by one publication it is easier for others to justify publishing. Sony Pictures, the studio releasing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, alluded to this in an email sent to journalists shortly after they learned of the New Yorker’s intentions. “By allowing critics to see films early, at different times, embargo dates level the playing field and enable reviews to run within the films’ primary release window, when audiences are most interested,” said Andre Caraco, the studio’s executive vice president of motion picture publicity. “As a matter of principle, the New Yorker’s breach violates a trust and undermines a system designed to help journalists do their job and serve their readers.”
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher’s adaptation of the first book in Stieg Larsson‘s bestselling Millennium series, stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara as a journalist and computer hacker who investigate the disappearance of a young woman. It’s an English-language remake of Niels Arden Oplev’s 2009 film, which kick-started the international career of its star, Noomi Rapace.