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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

on ‘Wolverine’ and embargoes

I’m still being told by Fox that I should not post my review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine till tomorrow, May 1. This is unimaginably frustrating to me, especially when I see that many critics have already posted their reviews… including some of the very critics who attended the same screening I did on Tuesday morning.

But I’m a good girl, and won’t post my review till 12:01am tomorrow… which is just as the first public screenings in the U.S. and Canada are beginning (and I’ve heard tell of 7pm screenings tonight in some places, though there don’t seem to be any in NYC).
Usually embargoes are not a big deal for me. Sometimes a publicist will say, “Don’t post till the week of release,” which hardly seems like an embargo at all, at least to me, because I don’t think there’s ever been a film that I could imagine posting a review of more than a few days before it opens. Even if I’d had the chance to see Wolverine (or any other hotly anticipated film) a month ago, I’m less interested in scooping other critics than I am in simply letting you all know whether a film is worth seeing in the days when you’ll actually be making the decision to see it or not… which is, for the most part, a decision that gets made in week just prior to release anyway. (If you’re the kind of person who would buy a ticket to a movie like Wolverine two weeks in advance, then you don’t care what the critics will say about it anyway. And if you don’t read reviews until after you see a film, this doesn’t apply to you either. But there is clearly a segment of my readership who do use my reviews as a tool to help them make that moviegoing decision in the first place.)

What’s frustrating in this case, though, is that I know I’m losing traffic I could really use by not having a Wolverine review up today. And I also know that none of the critics who have broken the embargo — and hence are getting that extra traffic boost — will be punished by the studio for it. They never are, so there’s really no downside to breaking an embargo.

It makes me feel like a fool for being a good girl and honoring the embargo, but I’d rather feel like a fool than feel sleazy and cheaty.



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  • Pedro

    I was lucky enough to get pre-release tickets, so I actually saw the movie yesterday. I’ll admit to having seen the leaked version, as well, but I went to the theater anyhow, just to see what was different.

    Dialogue was better, and some little things were tweaked here and there, but it was frustrating to see that the unnecessary, pointless fight scenes with bit players had not been eradicated.

    Oh, and they rip off the ending from Spider-Man 3

    Other than that, though, decent movie.

  • JoshDM

    So, is someone going to say something to FOX if you do? What about if you post it and then backdate it tomorrow?

  • PJK

    Just came back from seeing it in the Metropolis cinema in Antwerp (in Belgium for those geographically challenged people out there) at a regular showing. This was in a digital cinema.

    I must say that I liked it. It’s not going to win oscars (not even for special effects), but it was a solid actioner. It has it’s rough edges, but overall it works for what it tries to be.

    It’s a lot better than X-Men 3, but that is not difficult to achieve.

  • MaryAnn

    So, is someone going to say something to FOX if you do? What about if you post it and then backdate it tomorrow?

    But that would be sleazy and cheaty, too. And yes, Fox would likely know about it: there’s this little thing called Google Alerts that lets you know whenever something gets posted online related to whatever keywords you’ve set up the Alert to notice.

  • JoshDM

    So keyword it to Volwerine temporarily. :)

  • Chuck

    “Just came back from seeing it in the Metropolis cinema in Antwerp (in Belgium for those geographically challenged people out there) at a regular showing.”

    As opposed to Antwerp, New York.

  • Paul

    I feel like this all the time, like the only person who obeys the rules. I remember in college I was naive enough to think “I have a boyfriend” actually meant no. But I can honestly say there is very little in my life I feel guilty about; stupid, yes, but rarely guilty.

  • Well, it’s really an easy problem to fix, though you might not like the solution. Don’t go to screenings that have unreasonable embargoes.

  • SaintAndy

    I think you’ve given it an yellow stamp of approval ..it wasn’t that bad to warrant a red one …but I’ll find out Friday, anyway.

    It’s a shame, though, because the film started really well, but it sort of just died out after about 15 minutes ..when plot started going in all directions.
    Jackman is still gorgeous to look at (I actually like him better with the Wolvie facial hair) and Liev Schreiber should get more leading roles ..he’s a really talented actor ..and really underused most of the times.

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