David Denby, The New Yorker film critic, has broken Sony’s embargo date to review David Fincher’s ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.’ Appearing tomorrow in the New Yorker, Denby’s review of the movie will be posted, eight days before the allowed embargo date. What’s Denby’s reaction to the movie? Rather favorable, he states about ‘The Girl’ that — “You can’t take your eyes off Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander…This is a bleak but mesmerizing piece of filmmaking; it offers a glancing, chilled view of a world in which brief moments of loyalty flicker between repeated acts of betrayal. At heart, of course, the material is pulpy and sensational…There are certainly lurid moments, but I wouldn’t say that Fincher exploits the material.”

Update 1. Here’s more of David Denby’s review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo from the New Yorker:

“The movie jumps ahead in short, spiky scenes, punctuated by beautifully edited montages of computerized photographs, and by Mara, head down in the wind, tearing around Sweden on a motorcycle, like—well, a bat out of hell. At heart, the material is pulpy and sensational. Directed by David Fincher (working with Steven Zailian’s screenplay), this is a bleak but mesmerizing piece of filmmaking; it presents a chilled view of the world in which brief moments of loyalty flicker between repeated acts of greed and betrayal.” – read more

Update 2: Producer Scott Rudin has banned New Yorker critic David Denby from screenings of his future movies because the New Yorker is breaking a Dec. 13 embargo on reviews of David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In an e-mail exchange with Denby, published at Indiewire.com, Rudin wrote, “You’ve very badly damaged the movie by doing this, and I could not in good conscience invite you to see another movie of mine again.”

“It was not my intention to break the embargo, and I never would have done it with a negative review. But since I liked the movie, we came reluctantly to the decision to go with early publication,” Denby wrote. “I apologize for the breach of the embargo. It won’t happen again. But this was a special case brought on by year-end madness.”


And Sony is up in arms — urging other reviewers not to break the embargo date. Andre Caraco, the executive vice president of Sony Pictures publicity, wrote to other critics who’ve seen The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, insisting that they don’t post their reviews:

Dear Colleague,

All who attended screenings of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo agreed in writing to withhold reviews until closer to the date of the film’s worldwide release date. Regrettably, one of your colleagues, David Denby of The New Yorker, has decided to break his agreement and will run his review on Monday, December 5th. This embargo violation is completely unacceptable.

By allowing critics to see films early, at different times, embargo dates level the playing field and enable reviews to run within the films’ primary release window, when audiences are most interested. 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. 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.

In the meantime, we have every intention of maintaining the embargo in place and we want to remind you that reviews may not be published prior to December 13th.

We urge all who have been given the opportunity to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to honor the commitments agreed to as a condition of having early access to the film.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Andre Caraco, Executive Vice President, Motion Picture Publicity
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Here’s reactions from the web, from the top movie bloggers:

“Embargoes are dumbass, and even more so when they involve matters of no consequence like showbiz.” – Nikki Finke

“No way that outlets and critics are going to sit on their hands. That tapping you hear is all the scribes who have seen “Tattoo” preparing their reviews to post the second Denby does. And that gnashing of teeth? All the folks who didn’t go to Friday screenings thinking they had the luxury of an embargo date. In an email exchange with Rudin, Denby, the New Yorker critic–who shares film review chores with Anthony Lane–admitted that he was breaking the embargo, and simply wanted to file a major review of an important film this week, ahead of the holiday glut. ” – Anne Thompson

“In Lumenick’s piece he reveals that Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman and New Yorker’s David Denby opposed the NYFCC date change (I happen to agree with them on that – was premature, a bad choice and unnecessary) and apparently in protest of that he is breaking the embargo.” – Sasha Stone