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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Smurfbargo strangeness

Another embargo oddity.

Here’s the sitch. The Smufs opens in North America on Friday, July 29th. NYC critics will see the film on Wednesday, July 27th, and are embargoed until “Thursday, July 29th at 12pm eastern daylight time,” according to the screening invite. I presume the date is a typo, and should be July 28th… although it is possible that Sony means Friday, July 29th at noon. Though I’ve never heard of an embargo extending past the point at which public screenings begin.

Anyway, Thursday the 28th or Friday the 29th, it’s all beside the point I want to make here. Because even though The Smurfs won’t open in the U.K. till Wednesday, August 10, much of the London press saw the film this past weekend, and we are indeed under embargo… but that embargo lifts on Sunday, July 24th.

Now, seriously, WTF? Does Sony in L.A. and New York really not talk to Sony in London? If there’s going to be an embargo on a film, it only works if it applies to all critics, no matter where they’re geographically located. I seriously doubt that anyone is hinging their decision on whether to see The Smurfs or not on what the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times (or, for that matter, the Guardian or the Times of London) has to say in print about the movie.

This is not going to happen:

I say, Nigel dear, that chap in the Times says The Smurfs is a jolly night out. Shall we take ourselves to the cinema this Friday?

Imagining that someone in NYC who does want to find out what critics are saying about The Smurfs will obediently obey the North American embargo and not read critics on this side of the Atlantic before the 28th (or 29th) is simply preposterous.

I truly wish I understood the mindset behind such discrepancies. I have the feeling that the universe would make a helluva lot more sense if I did.



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