As we’ve discussed many times, trying to keep anything a secret in Hollywood, particularly when it involves geeks, is practically impossible.
There was what’s known as a “review embargo” on the upcoming remake of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, where no critic was allowed to post their thoughts on the movie until next week.
However, veteran movie critic David Denby went ahead and published his review in the New Yorker, which caused legendary rageaholic producer Scott Rudin to go ballistic, and ban Denby from seeing any of his movies in the future.
As the Hollywood Reporter notes, Rudin sent Denby a huffy notice claiming the critic “very badly damaged the movie by doing this, and I could not in good conscience invite you to see another movie of mine again.”
Of course, Rudin is nothing if not a drama queen, and rumor always had it the Kevin Spacey character in Swimming With Sharks was either based on him, similarly volatile and bloated Matrix producer Joel Silver, or former Sony executive Barry Josephson.
Similarly, Sony went equally crazy, issuing a stern, school teacher warning to critics, warning them “We have been speaking directly with the New Yorker about this matter and expect to take measures to ensure this kind of violation does not occur again.”
Denby tried to explain to Rudin he broke the embargo because “there were too many important films opening at the year for the New Yorker to accommodate them all,” and that it was “a special case brought on by year-end madness,” all of which Rudin blew off as “disingenuous” and “nonsense.”
Funny enough, before this molehill turned into a mountain, there was a story in Variety about the film’s Oscar chances, with the headline, “Awards await, but ‘not a game changer,'” and one person who attended the screening telling Variety, “I thought it was a well-made film, certainly flashier than the Swedish version,” but again, “I don’t see it as being a game-changer.”
Another attendee told Variety the film is “much more faithful to the book (than the Swedish version). It should have enough of a push between being very arty and very smart. It really does hit that sweet intersection between artiness and commercial appeal.”
Variety’s verdict from its sources?
“A serious player, but it’s not going to bulldoze its way to awards glory right out of the gate.”
And the David Denby review that’s caused all this major studio grief?
“You can’t take your eyes off Rooney Mara,” the actress playing the lead role of Lisbeth Salander. “This is a bleak but mesmerizing piece of filmmaking… There are certainly lurid moments, but I wouldn’t say that Fincher exploits the material… In this movie [Daniel Craig] is modest, quiet, even rather recessive. It’s Mara’s shot at stardom, and he lets her have it.”
Also, I have to say I love Deadline’s reaction to all of this. The famously tough and brutal founder of Deadline, Nikki Finke, who’s never been known to mince words, headlined her report on all the review leak as only she can: “So What if David Denby Broke Sony ‘ Scott Rudin’s Dragon Tattoo Embargo? F*ck It!”