Trailers have made it obvious that Gods of Egypt (Lionsgate, 2.26), a CG fantasy flick from director Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City, I, Robot) will not be depending on good reviews to generate ticket sales. Nonetheless Lionsgate publicists are very concerned about spoilers appearing in reviews. Today Lionsgate sent a letter to critics saying that unless they sign a letter pledging not to reveal “spoilers” they can’t attend next Wednesday’s (2.24) screening.

3:45 pm Pacific Update: A Lionsgate spokesperson informs that the above-referenced letter that was sent out earlier today went “to the field” and does not represent Lionsgate policy, and that no one is looking to corral or police critics with concerns about possible spoilers.

Back to earlier story: There’s an objection, I’ve been told, to a portion of the waiver statement that reads as follows: “…at no point should the undersigned publish…any element of the Picture that would be considered a ‘spoiler.'” I’ve been told that at least a couple of major print publications are refusing to sign. So this morning I asked several big-name critics for theri reactions.

Since when is spoiling a major concern among critics? Critics generally offer a rough summary of the basic set-up and the first two acts, or at least the first half. But they never reveal the payoff elements or any portion of what is normally considered climactic or third-act crescendo points.

Why exactly is Lionsgate so concerned about spoilers? More to the point, why is it demanding that critics offer a written pledge to abstain from revealing them before they’re allowed to see it?

As I understand it the online embargo for Gods of Egypt reviews is on Thursday, 2.25; the print embargo is on Friday, 2.26.

Reaction from Toronto Star critic Peter Howell: “If the operative word in the decree was ‘will’ rather than ‘should’ for what we publish, I would object strenuously. But ‘should’ leaves it up to the critic to determine what is or isn’t a spoiler, which is the normal situation. So I’m inclined to consider this yet another absurd and bureaucratic attempt to herd cats, unless there is more in that embargo than what you’ve excerpted here. On that basis, and since the embargo really only enforces a standard review date, I would just roll my eyes and sign it.”

Reaction from Boston Herald critic James Verniere: “The Boston Herald is not signing, not going to the screening. I personally am sick of being bullied by publicists and their clients. I am not alone in this market in refusing to sign. Maybe it’s a movement.”

Reaction from critic Glenn Kenny: “Alas, I have not been assigned this sure-to-be dynamic slab of cinema, but that’s just idiotic on a lot of levels, including who gets to say what constitutes a spoiler for this movie in the first place. This is some hard trolling on Lionsgate’s part. If they don’t want it reviewed they should just not screen it. These contortions only engender ill will across the board.”

Gods of Egypt costars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Chadwick Boseman, Elodie Yung, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell, Gerard Butler and Geoffrey Rush.

From Wiki page: “When Lionsgate began promoting the film in November 2015, it received backlash for its predominantly white cast playing Egyptian characters. In response, Lionsgate and director Alex Proyas apologized for the lack of casting diversity.”