Teutonic crix make ‘War’ on distrib UIP

German critics wage war on Spielberg's 'Worlds'

BERLIN — In Germany, “War of the Worlds” has spawned the attack of the film critics.

Teutonic movie critics and journalists say they will boycott press screenings of Steven Spielberg’s alien invasion pic due to distrib UIP’s demands that they sign an agreement not to publish a review before its release on June 29.

Although it’s common in the U.S. for studios and critics to agree on an informal review date, it’s unheard of in Germany, where the critics’ org is calling it a “scandalous PR policy.”

The Assn. of German Film Critics said the practice not only “obstructs the press from its constitutionally guaranteed rights” but also “gives the impression that journalists have to reckon with legal or other types of reprisals if they don’t sign or violate the mandatory statement.”

UIP could not be reached for comment, but company reps in Germany have been cited in the press as saying they are just following orders from Paramount and Spielberg.

The critics’ org is asking its more than 300 members to either ignore UIP’s demands or ignore the film.

Berlin critics saw an English-language version of the movie at the June 14 press screening on the same night as the pic’s preem in the city, which was surrounded by strict security.

All signed the agreement not to review “War of the Worlds” and, so far, all have stuck by it.

Journalists from the Associated Press and German news agency DPA have said they will attend Monday’s press screening of the German-lingo version of the pic but refuse to sign the statement. A number of city magazines are planning to do likewise.

But their protest will have limited effect as very few could publish the review before it opens two days later.

Andreas Kramer, head of Germany’s cinema owners’ body HDF, said the veil of secrecy was not helping the film.

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