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David Poland

By David Poland

Embargoing Too Far?

In the course of his regular schtick of calling out quote whores, UGO’s Erik Childress does a much more interesting piece on the status of The Embargo in Hollywood these days.
His perspective, from Chicago, causes him to make a few missteps in his opinion sifting. And that

17 Responses to “Embargoing Too Far?”

  1. jeffmcm says:

    Wrong Chicago newspaper.

  2. David Poland says:

    What do you mean, J-Mc?

  3. jeffmcm says:

    Ebert writes for the Sun-Times, not the Tribune. Unless you mean that Ebert’s presence in Chicago affects both newspapers…which I sort of half-see in what you wrote.

  4. T.H.Ung says:

    I think the topic is difficult/not that interesting to most readers, but I

  5. eFilmCritic’s Erik Childress, not UGO’s.
    Why is it so hard for anyone to cite our little site correctly?
    Good responses on your part, DP.

  6. jim emerson says:

    When I was the film critic at the Orange County Register (and my stuff was syndicated over Knight-Ridder), the LA Times used to break review dates with impunity. A few times, when the studios were doing late-night showings Thursday night to pump up their weekend grosses, my editors would see the ads and we’d run the reviews on Thursday. This would upset the studios — not because THEY cared, but because the LA Times cared (if they hadn’t done the same thing).
    So, I think you’re quite right — embargoes are really there to protect the alpha status of the dominant outlet in a particular market. Everything else is relatively incidental.

  7. T.H.Ung says:

    Scott, that might be a design flaw of you own.

  8. T.H.Ung says:

    your own, that is. I can get to UGO from eFC, but not back. It’s messed up.

  9. Heh. Tell me about it.

  10. Crow T Robot says:

    This trend of critics discussing critics (in the wake of no real movies to discuss) brings a smile to my face every time. Reminds me of a line from Roger Ebert’s review of Blade II:
    “The Vampire Nation is under attack by a new breed of vampires named Reapers, who drink the blood of both humans and vampires, and are insatiable.”

  11. EDouglas says:

    Don’t have a lot of time to discuss this topic which is of great interest to me since I have a review to finish before my own embargo, which is 12:01 AM tonight. I did think it was funny that we were told to embargo reviews for Clerks II after that had played very openly at Cannes. Of course, I didn’t see it there, but I thought that once a movie is screened publically, the purpose of embargoing reviews is no longer necessary. I tend to wait until week of opening for everything just because I’m always having stuff I need to finish for that weekend’s movies and that takes priority. But that’s just me.

  12. EDouglas says:

    Okay, I had a bit more time to look over Erik’s piece and David’s response and I do have to wholeheartedly agree with this statement:
    “And my concern with journalists/critics taking this decision making into their own hands is that the studio response will be less access, not more. They do not just want positive reviews out there. They are playing defense against the whole field. And it is the rarity that a film has unanimous reviews on either side.”
    This is 100% correct and as an internet only outlet, I’ve been seeing this happen more and more. Despite playing at Cannes, Clerks 2 was only screened for online critics the week it opened… a lot of the other studios will only invite onliners to opening week all-medias, rather than the earlier screenings (this changes a bit around awards season of course). Even independent publicists here are holding screenings for onliners of arthouse/foreign films until the last possible moment, which makes it very hard to cover some of them, especially when one has to decide between seeing a major release which will have guaranteed interest or an indie which deserves the attention.
    A lot of these problems arise because sites like AICN refuse to follow the rules and embargoes that the rest of us do. Many studios and publicists still consider AICN the pinnacle of entertainment sites because they’re so prominent, and by posting their own reviews early, as well as posting reader reviews from test screenings (don’t they SIGN something saying that they won’t speak about them? And by posting them, doesn’t that make AICN an accessory?) Either way, it sheds a bad light on internet journalism and those who do follow embargoes… and it also makes some of our jobs much harder like say… people who write a weekly movie preview column that don’t get to see the movie until after writing it.

  13. EDouglas says:

    BTW, Drew has Emailed me to let me know that the above statement is untrue and we’re discussing it. So until he corrects what he feels is an error on my part, you’ll just have to take the above with a grain of salt.

  14. David Poland says:

    I agree with Drew… I only know of one studio that still considers AICN the pinnacle of entertainment sites.
    Just seriously folks…
    The issue of running test screening reviews – which are shitty immoral content – is actually separated to a great extent from online critics reviews, in my opinion… at least in recent years. It used to be more of an issue.
    My issues with AICN is that they have all kinds of unspoken agreements and studios are loathe to acknowledge them either. And studios are inconsistent about what their own rules are.
    Take a look at Harry’s review of TM: The Early Years and then explain how he wasn’t courted by the studio. You can’t, Doesn’t make his opinion invalid. But the studios don’t do that for anyone else. And it’s not about the Harry review, which no one (“no one” in the broad sense, Kris) cares about. It’s about turning the full AICN machinery into a marketing tool for the film. And whether Harry’s review was improved by his special access or not, that use of AICN will be effective.
    Of course, this only happens at one studio broadly and on geek genre films.
    But it’s nice to see that Drew has taken his disagreements private.

  15. EDouglas says:

    “Take a look at Harry’s review of TM: The Early Years and then explain how he wasn’t courted by the studio. You can’t, Doesn’t make his opinion invalid. But the studios don’t do that for anyone else. And it’s not about the Harry review, which no one (“no one” in the broad sense, Kris) cares about. It’s about turning the full AICN machinery into a marketing tool for the film. And whether Harry’s review was improved by his special access or not, that use of AICN will be effective.”
    That’s kind of the point I was making, so maybe I was wrong in saying they were “breaking embargo” as much as they are given special permission/privilege to run a review (or set visit) while no one else was.
    It does seem sometimes like the studio does this to play the journalists/critics against each other, because having disarray among the press makes us seem less credible, particularly when we’re saying negative things.

  16. jeffmcm says:

    I’m sorry, is “TM: The Early Years” supposed to be Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning?

  17. EDouglas says:

    Jeff: Yes… Harry posted a glowing review of it last week.

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