Sony Pictures is steaming over the New Yorker's plan to review David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" on Monday. That will be eight days in advance of the Dec. 13 embargo that the studio imposed on all critics and journalists who attended early screenings of the long-awaited film.
Early Sunday morning, Sony's executive VP of motion picture publicity, Andre Caraco, sent an email to those who've attended advance screenings of the Daniel Craig/Rooney Mara film, including TheWrap, calling the New Yorker's plan to publish a review by critic David Denby on Dec. 5 "completely unacceptable."
"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," Caraco wrote. "We have been speaking directly with the New Yorker about this matter and expect to take measures to ensure this kind of violation does not occur again."
Caraco also emphasized that other critics and journalists who saw the film early are still expected to observe the embargo. When one outlet breaks a review embargo, others typically follow, frequently with the approval of the studio.
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" first screened on Monday, Nov. 28 for members of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review. It began screening later in the week for other members of the press; a condition of the invitation was that writers acknowledge that they would honor the embargo with their RSVP.
The embargo extended to Facebook, Twitter and the like. Apart from scattered hints that indicate some early viewers loved the film, those platforms have been silent about "Dragon Tattoo," which opens on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
One blogger, Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere, wrote something about the film but quickly took it down.
While it is not unusual for a site to violate an embargo, it is far more common for the embargo-breaking to come from a trade publication or a site like Ain't It Cool News than from an established mainstream publication like the New Yorker.
The New York Post's Lou Lumenick, who said he has read Denby's review, characterized it as being "positive to mixed." He also said that Denby was a vocal opponent of the New York Film Critics Circle decision to move up its vote by two weeks, which led directly to its early "Dragon Tattoo" screening.
Breaking the embargo, Lumenick speculated, may have been Denby's attempt to prevent the NYFCC from voting in November next year by persuading studios that they shouldn't screen films early for the organization.