Ordinarily, I just roll my eyes when I hear about a spat between a movie or video game studio and a critic over running a review early and violating a press embargo. I think, “Yeesh, embargoes don’t make a lot of sense in a world of instant web publishing”.
In her coverage of a recent dust-up between Sony Pictures and New Yorker critic David Denby, Linda Holmes lays out some advantages to embargoes that I hadn’t considered:
Screenings often trickle out over a couple of weeks or even longer, and an embargo date means you don't have to competitively try to get your reviewer to the first possible one. It also means your critic can take some time to write without feeling overwhelming pressure to get her review out there before everyone else on the planet has already reviewed and dissected the movie. And if there weren't embargo dates and there were an advantage in getting the first screenings, you can bet those early screenings would go to the same folks every time, and they wouldn't be in Minneapolis and Santa Fe.
Valid points. Good writing takes time, and first does not imply best. Worth remembering.
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