New Yorker film critic David Denby not only liked the new English-language adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” his review in the latest issue of the magazine is a glowing paean to the movie starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.
He describes the film — a remake of a 2009 Swedish movie based on the bestselling books by Stieg Larsson — as “a bleak but mesmerizing piece of filmmaking.” This is, let us assure you, high praise coming from Denby.
There’s just one problem: Denby, along with several other critics, promised to not run reviews of the David Fincher-directed film until Dec. 13, according to the Guardian. It’s increasingly standard procedure — a studio screens a movie for critics early, in this case to allow for the New York Film Critics Circle awards voting deadline — then asks that the critics basically sit on their opinion until a studio-set date. Since “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” doesn’t open wide in the U.S. until Dec. 26, the embargo date hardly seems unusual.
But Denby’s review appears in this week’s issue of the New Yorker and is already posted online. In a series of emails obtained by Indiewire’s Playlist blog, Denby explains his decision to run the review ahead of the embargo, blaming the film industry for crowding “grownup” films into a short end-of-year release window and adding that he needed copy to fill a double-issue.
Producer Scott Rudin is unmoved, and banned Denby from future press screenings of all of his movies. (We’re assuming the other New Yorker critic, Anthony Lane, will still be welcome.)
Where do you come down on the issue? Did Denby do wrong or is it unfair for studios to try to control the timing of movie reviews?