German critics protest ‘War’

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 movie due to distributor 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.

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