David Fincher wishes that David Denby — the New Yorker film critic who broke an embargo rule to run an early review of Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” — had never seen his film. Actually, to be more specific, Fincher wishes that no one had seen the film yet.
“Look, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t show movies to anybody before they were released,” Fincher said in an interview published today with the Miami Herald’s Rene Rodriguez. “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 Oscar-nominated filmmaker continued, “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.”
Fincher also shared some thoughts on film criticism in the digital age, which he believes has become overly dominated by the speed at which one disseminates his or her opinion.
“It’s unfortunate that the film critic business has become driven by scoops,” he told Rodriguez, later noting that “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?"
In a climate where we’ve already seen so many images, posters and teasers for “The Hunger Games” that it almost feels like we’ve seen the movie, perhaps Fincher is right. Maybe we’ve reached a tipping point.
It’s true that most fans prefer to enter any entertainment experience — be it a film or an episode of a TV show — completely unspoiled. Yet pop culture junkies also desperately crave buzz, both to fuel our sense of anticipation and because we genuinely want to know whether certain experiences are worth our time and money.
We’ve already established that breaking agreed-to embargoes is not good. But how should critics and other members of the media reconcile the two previously described needs? Should we just stop feeding the buzz beast, as Fincher suggests? Or is there some middle ground here?
In a related item of note, this is just a reminder that the embargo on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” dissolves in just seven days. Which means you have at least six more days to potentially read about the film without fully understanding what anyone thinks of it. Well, anyone other than The New Yorker’s David Denby, who found it “mesmerizing.”