By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Whose Access Is It Anyway?
In my e-mail box, I just found a Forbes Newsletter proclaiming “First Review: War Of The Worlds.”
The author is Variety’s Todd McCarthy. Variety shares ad space on the Forbes page.
And my reaction is shock.
Because Variety is now trading on its industry status, which has allowed it to bully studios in the internet era into at least maintaining parity with internet sites and often into early screenings (they saw WoTW weeks before The New York Times). But it’s no longer just for editorial advantage and prestige. Now it is a direct, undeniable commerce issue.
And I say, “Foul.”
If the studios go down this road publicly – which is to allow to slide by the backdoor deals with the “fan site” AICN – there will be no high ground by which to do business with other outlets. If Variety can use a “First Review” claim (which is not true, btw) to its financial benefit, isn’t it directly damaging to The New York Times not to have that access?
Now, it might be a fluke. Embargo rules were all over the place on this particular movie, worldwide. Toes were stepped on and for one of the first times, a lot of people who don’t usually care complained.
But if it isn’t… is “First Review” is worth more than prestige and attention, but actually financial upside… the spiral will speed up and pirated previews – including test screening reviews – will not only become morally acceptable, but lionized by regular folks in a way they are not already.