‘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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