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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

‘Avatar’ review embargo? eh, not so much

UPDATE: 3:40PM: I’ve gotten confirmation from my Fox rep that the embargo has indeed been lifted. I’m writing my review now and will post asap…


I was told, concerning Avatar: “Please hold reviews until opening day, December 18th.” I realize that’s a bit vague, but I generally take that to mean that I cannot post my review of the film till next Friday.

Though perhaps the “please” means this is only a request, not a demand. That must be so, in fact, because reviews of the film are popping up all over the place. The premiere was last night in London, but even before the premiere had gotten started, the Guardian Film blog had posted reactions, even though:

All journalists watching the movie in Fox’s Soho headquarters had to sign a form agreeing not to publish a review or even express a professional opinion online or in print before Monday. So by saying Avatar was [redacted by maj] the Guardian is in technical breach of the agreement.

Will the Guardian suffer any negative consequences for this breach? I doubt it.

Press screenings of the film began in the U.S. last night — I’m heading out this morning to see it — and reviews are already appearing: Rotten Tomatoes lists 11 reviews already for Avatar, including a bunch of reviews from the British press, that signed agreement apparently notwithstanding, and those from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety (those reviews are also listed at Metacritic). Now, the reasoning for THR and Variety not being bound by embargoes that other critics are supposed to honor has always been that they’re trade publications, not meant for consumers, but that distinction no longer makes sense when everyone can read these reviews without having to fork over outrageous professionally priced subscription fees. And sure enough, Ain’t It Cool News is touting those trade reviews. Obviously, geeks read ’em.

Oh, and the geek site /film has posted a review, too.

So once again, I’ll end up feeling like a sucker for holding my review for a week.



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  • Jeff

    Per other websites, the embargo was lifted at 2am this morning once the flood of positive reviews hit the street. There is currently no embargo. You can email the studio yourself.

  • Kelly and I turned off the Bones were were going to watch on Hulu because all the characters were squeeing about going to see Avatar in product placement so crass we lost interest in the rest of the show. Their marketing department is 2 for 2!

  • My middle brother is already dying to see it just because it’s a James Cameron film. And this was before any recent Bones episode.

  • i actually thought the “Avatar” subplot of Bones was pretty damned funny… i wouldn’t camp out myself (anymore, that is, in the past…) but i totally enjoyed the little machinations the three fanboys went through. and i loved that the three characters were all different types of geeks… unusual to see us portrayed as anything but one big blurry body of geek characteristics. as product placement goes, it was funny, and in character, and didn’t bother me a bit.

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