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maryann johanson, ruining movies since 1997

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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