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David Fincher addresses Denby’s embargo breach

(via Jeff Wells at HollywoodElsewhere from Fincher’s interview with Rene Roderiguez in the Miami Herald.)

“I think Scott [Rudin]‘s response was totally correct,” Fincher said. “It’s a hard thing for people outside our business to understand. It is a bit of a tempest in a teapot. But as silly as this may all look from the outside — privileged people bickering — I think it’s important. Film critics are part of the business of getting movies made. You swim in the same water we swim in. And there is a business to letting people know your movie is coming out. It is not a charity business — it’s a business-business.

“This is not about controlling the media. If people realized how much thought goes into deciding at what point can we allow our movie to be seen, they would understand. There are so many other things constantly screaming for people’s attention. I started shooting this movie 25 days after I turned in The Social Network. We have been working really hard to make this release date. And when you’re trying to orchestrate a build-up of anticipation, it is extremely frustrating to have someone agree to something and then upturn the apple cart and change the rules — for everybody.

“Embargoes…okay, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t show movies to anybody before they were released. I wouldn’t give clips to talk shows. I would do one trailer and three television spots and let the chips fall where they may. That’s how far in the other direction I am. If I had my way, the New York Film Critics Circle would not have seen this movie and then we would not be in this situation. I would be opening this movie on Wednesday Dec. 21 and I would have three screenings on Tuesday Dec. 20 and that would be it.

“That’s where [Rudin] and I get into some of our biggest fights. My whole thing is ‘If people want to come, they’ll come.’ But they should be completely virgin. I’m not of the mind to tell anybody anything about the movie they are going to see. And that kind of thought is ridiculous in this day and age. But by the same token, when you agree to go see something early and you give your word — as silly as that may sound in the information age and the movie business — there is a certain expectation. It’s unfortunate that the film critic business has become driven by scoops.

“Ultimately, movies live or die by word of mouth anyway. All that other stuff doesn’t matter. Nothing against film criticism. I think film critics are really valuable. But the most valuable film critics are usually those people who come see a movie with their Blackberry and then text their friends ‘It sucked.’ or ‘It’s awesome. You should see it.’ You know what I mean?”

31 Comments on this Post

  1. LOL, Fincher can be as OCD he wants about his movies, but he isnt gonna control every person on the planet. an ‘embargo’ is pathetic anyway. show it or don’t show it, you can’t have it both ways.

  2. Freddy Ardanza

    And Fincher is completely right.

  3. “…he isnt gonna control every person on the planet. an ‘embargo’ is pathetic anyway. show it or don’t show it, you can’t have it both ways.”

    Exactly, He is unable to control the way the studio chooses to screen the film. He specifically says that it is not up him, or else he’d do it differently.

    He’s not trying to have it both ways. He’s accepting the usual studio routine, and he’s not happy that Denby can’t accept the same routine.

    What’s so LOL about that?

  4. I may just be a Fincher fanboy or whatever, but he nails it, he’s dead on with his thoughts here. I completely agree with him. This “business” world with embargoes and press and marketing is just crazy, he knows it, we know it, but this is still the first time I’ve actually heard honest, genuine statements from someone about this situation. How it all actually works.

    I’m with him 100% on this: “My whole thing is ‘If people want to come, they’ll come.’ But they should be completely virgin. I’m not of the mind to tell anybody anything about the movie they are going to see… I wouldn’t show movies to anybody before they were released. I wouldn’t give clips to talk shows. I would do one trailer and three television spots and let the chips fall where they may.” That is exactly how I feel, I HATE clips, cannot stand them, and this is a filmmaker saying this? Love it.

  5. IMO Fincher always comes across wanting it both ways. he pretend to be this badass Gen-X director while firmly being a hollywood player.

    as for the studio vs denby, I don’t think the people who made ads like this

    http://www.awardsdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/rooney-mara-the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-03.jpg

    have room to argue against denby being sleazy.

    Fincher and his team… they want a hundred million dollar blockbuster to build up buzz, and then when they get it they whine

  6. Alex Pizziolo

    Fincher is absolutely right!

  7. Look, Fincher doesn’t need to weigh in at all. He chose to. Ergo, we are allowed to disagree with him. And Fincher would do well to remember what David Lynch said about watching movies on a “fucking phone.”

  8. I love Fincher for moments like this. No bullshit; just a dude making great work. After reading this, you can see why he was the one least affected by Best Director decision last year. He just wants the average dude to be able to see this movie, and if they hate it, they hate it, but if they shouldn’t be driven to not see it because of marketing or critics. I always appreciate a fresh perspective.

    Can someone ask Denby how having his cake and eating it too is working out?

  9. He didn’t say he wanted people to watch it on their phones. He said he wanted people to watch it, then use their phones to text their reactions to their friends.

  10. This argument seems stupid. How do we know this wasn’t all planned?

  11. have room to argue against denby being sleazy.

    I missed the part where anybody called Denby sleazy.
    And I also missed the part where that photo is sleazy.

    what, akdf?
    are you a Quaker?
    do you have to go flagellate yourself now that you’ve seen a lady’s bare shoulders? (don’t answer that)

    Do you not realize that shot is part of a fashion shoot for W magazine, photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino who has no association with the film? It’s an advertisement for Diesel jeans, is what it is. Are you angry Rooney Mara is going around with the same hairstyle while she’s still on the publicity circuit? Do you think Fincher is following her around like Svengali to every fucking fashion magazine offer she gets?

  12. Boo-hoo. Embargoes are stupid. Fincher wants it both ways.

  13. Embargoes may be stupid but that doesn’t mean you should be allowed to break them.

    And obviously David Fincher is gonna stand up for what Scott Rudin said

  14. I’m glad some of you are somehow interpreting this as wanting it both ways. It’s translating into twice the page views for this post.

  15. “And obviously David Fincher is gonna stand up for what Scott Rudin said”

    but he wants it both ways. he wants to stand up for his moguls and he wants to say it’s all bullshit. so which is it?

  16. “Do you not realize that shot is part of a fashion shoot for W magazine, photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino who has no association with the film?”

    no way. she is supposed to be in character for that, she even has the lip ring. the whole campaign for Tattoo IMO is sick. it is over sexualizing a character who is sad and disturbed.

  17. Meh. Hollywood politics. I don’t get it and I don’t care. All I care is this movie better be as good or better than the original. And if Fincher is confident about his film, embargo or not, people will come to see it.

  18. This is great! I was wondering how TGWTDT was going to make up lost buzz time by getting out of the gate later than all (save one) of the others. For the last couple of days, all the talk has been about a private screening, oaths of silence, somebody reputable breaking that oath, and indignation on all sides.

    All the while, the top of the food chain (the audience) is listening to the grunting of these wildebeests, just waiting for the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. Brilliant way to play the board before you even enter the game.

  19. What Fincher is saying is that if Denby came out with a negative review he could have shattered whatever chances Dragon Tattoo had at being successful. Rudin is saying that same thing. Fortunately for them both Denby seemed to like it.

    There is no having it “both ways” on Fincher’s part.

  20. This is all one gigantic PR game play.

  21. Who cares! Foreign Film Remakes are not on my must see list!

  22. They’re on mine as long as they’re by master filmmakers likely to surpass the original with their interpretation (Scorsese, Fincher, etc.).

  23. The Pope

    It may sound insane but for quite a while I have been considering the idea that critics should not review a film until AT LEAST couple of weeks AFTER it has come out. That way they can let it bed down and that way they don’t have to be “FIRST!”

    Especially in this hot age of internet, where pre-publicity determines so much about a movies opening weekend position, critics are not needed (as much as they used). Critics now are only needed for discussion, not assessment. So, let them assess and because we all have blogs, that’s how the criticism/discussion/assessment will take place.

  24. Embargos are useful to both parties, and they are extended as a courtesy to journalists. If you accept the terms, you have to honor them. Any other explanation is B.S. BTW, although he’s proven himself to be untrustworthy by breaking the embargo, I do believe Denby when he says he wouldn’t have published the review if it wasn’t positive. His motives may have complicated, but he also understands this is a business. He seems to honestly believe he was doing the Dragon team a favor by publishing early.

  25. You know what I just realized? Half of you guys can’t read. LOLOLOLOLOL

    Fincher’s right that people should know as little about a film as possible when they see it. I love it when I’m completely taken by surprise by a movie. Warrior suffered from a trailer that gave it all away. I’ve seen many comments online from people who said “the reason I didn’t see it was because the trailer gave it away”. That means even though they didn’t see it, they took the time to go online and say why they didn’t. That sucks. That makes me feel bad because I really liked that movie and wish more people had seen it.

    But if he feels that way I don’t understand why he’s against embargo busting. I would think that if everyone ignored embargoes it would force the studios to only show the movies closer to the release date or not at all. And then the films would get the chance to stand on their own for those who don’t want to know too much about movies in advance but those who do rely on critics can wait to read the reviews and then decide. But you wouldn’t get a bunch of information about a film, positive or negative, unless you searched it out. You wouldn’t get accidentally spoiled. That’s what it sounds like he’d want if it were up to him.

    I personally decide whether I’m going to see a film or not based on the first trailer I see, usually ahead of another film at the cineplex. Otherwise, I already know about it because one of my favorite actors or directors is involved and I’m already going. I usually only read reviews after I’ve seen it to avoid spoilers. Then if I like something I search people out who I think will also like it and I make it a point to not spoil it when I insist that they go. lol

  26. Fincher is 100% right, the man is awesome

  27. Ryan Griffin

    I don’t understand how this is in any way Fincher wanting it “both ways.” He doesn’t want people to see his movies before they are released, wants them to go in clean knowing little about it. He didn’t even want the movie screened for the NYFCC, so of course he doesn’t want a review to go out weeks before the movie is released, let alone when the embargo is lifted.

    Isn’t the embargo a half step towards his ideal situation, where critics would see and review the movie just days before the movie instead of weeks? I don’t see how any of what he said is contradictory at all.

  28. Im with Fincher 100% and Denby did a mistake my breaking the embargo. Deny was fully informed and was lucky enough to watch Dragon Tattoo weeks before release date. Its Denby that wants both ways.

    I like the idea of not screening movies for critics before the release date. Let the public and buzz decide. Then critics can talk about the quality of work, use of techniques, the enesemble, the writing and so on.

    When it comes to trailers, it is the Americans to blame. Americans wants to know what is going on and then watch the movie. Its like telling the child about the story of Peter Pan before reading the book

    In Europe the marked is different and trailers are more like teasers.

    As an example is Atonement. I prefer the one minute teaser with minimun dialog with the piano theme. That made we from not wanting to watch a tear jerking movie to really looking forward to watch it.

    As they say: less is more ;)

  29. Jenny Lee

    I agree with Fincher that a movie should be shown as little as possible… just enough to peek the interest…. and not give away too many spoiler before releasing. The marketing of a movie, especially a high profile one like this one is gonna be very complicated. I understand why Rudin had put an embargo on the critics even though I hate the idea. I was wondering why after NYFCC viewed the movie, there is no words from anyone from that group. I feel bad that Denby had been criticized for his early review. His intention was good but he did violate a signed Embargo.

  30. Ryan why do you always attack people that have a different opinion? maybe the person who said his sleazy points just has a different opinion and look on life than you do.

    I disagree with what he said, but im not going to call him a quaker because of it. we should be discussing, not insulting each other.

    Anyway, I totally agree with Fincher on all of this, I hate seeing more than one trailer for a movie, let alone clips and scenes! I do see what someone above said though, that he plays the hollywood side and the Gen-x director side too. But its because Fincher knows its a business, and you have to play both sides to win.

    I do want someone to please explain why Mara is naked in pictures for dragon tattoo though? what image of her are they trying to convey? I have not read the book so I dont know exactly what happens, but I am curious as to why they have her appear naked in that photo and also on the movie poster, just curious no one hate me for not knowing haha

  31. Not an attack, John. The Quakers have a pretty good reputation for being fine upstanding people.

    It’s hyperbole. I’m very very very surprised anybody would think that photograph is sleazy. But it sounds pretty dull to say “I’m very very very surprised at your outrage” so I chose another way to express my extreme surprise, ok?

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