Hollywood bigshot Scott Rudin is all pissed at New Yorker movie critic David Denby, because he ran a review The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a week early. They're so angry at each other that they're fighting. Over email!
IndieWire has the full transcript of their exchange so far, but Rudin (who is on top in the photo above) got wind that Denby was going to release his review today. That's a whole week early, against the embargo! See, reviewers agree not to talk about a movie until its release date so they can have the privileged of seeing the movies for free in advance of the opening. Denby decided that he was going to break this agreement for the hotly anticipated movie. I hope that Rudin isn't afraid of spoiler alerts. It's not like everyone who has spent more than seven minutes in an airport in the last year hasn't read the damn book and knows what happens.
Some of this has to do with politics involving the New York Film Critics Circle which went all Iowa caucus on everyone and moved up their voting deadline this year so they can be the first critics to release their best of the year lists and be the first predictor of the Oscars. It also has to do with the way that movie reviews are done and the glut of fancy movies that are released at the end of the year.
Denby's argument is that he had to run the review now because the magazine has double issues at the end of the year and Hollywood releases all the movies it thinks can win Oscars in the last several weeks of the year, which means critics—especially veddy impooooorrrrtant critics like Denby—have way too much intelligent cinema to talk about in a short period of time.
So we had a dilemma: 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."
Oh, god, David. Sorry you even had to sit through We Sold the Farm. That sounds just awful! Because of this move Rudin and Sony might bar Denby from future screenings, which would make his review process more difficult. Conde Nast might have to actually shell out $13.50 every time he wants to write about a movie!
This might just be the last gasps of a dying system. As always, the internet changes everything. In some cases you can find a copy of a movie on the internet before you can even read a damn review. What's the point of an embargo when you don't have to wait for the critics? You can decide for yourself—and for free. While it's helpful for everyone, Denby and other print journalists need the embargo system way more than people who only write on the internet.If I want to review The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo all I have to do is go see it opening day, run home, and write a review. It can go up immediately. Denby has to wait a week—or possibly more—for his magazine to print his words with real ink on actual paper. The New Yorker does not believe the internet exists, and thinks you should (gasp!) pay for it! Keep the internet free! Keep movies free! Fuck embargoes! Review this shit when you want! OCCUPY HOLLYWOOD! Ew, sorry about the "occupy" joke.
Maybe that's going overboard. Still with Hollywood holding on so tightly to the old system like it's falling out of their grasp and even a print journalist like Denby pushing against what he sees as a ridiculous system against his own best interest, that means something is gonna change real soon.
[Images via Getty and WNYC/Flickr]