Clint Eastwood‘s The Mule opens in 11 days (if you’re counting evening shows on Thursday, 12.13), and Warner Bros. won’t even screen it for critics groups about to vote. Guys who routinely see films a couple of weeks ahead of commercial opening are hearing nothing but “radio silence” from WB publicists when they call and ask.

I’ve heard that The Mule had a recent research screening and one for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and that a few elites saw it two or three weeks ago. The word all along has been that Eastwood’s crime flick is better than pretty good but not in an award-qualifying way. Fine, no worries, but why are they hiding it? I’m guessing that all-media showings will happen early next week (i.e., Monday or Tuesday), although HE colleague Jordan Ruimy says he’s been told “there will be no advance press screenings of The Mule in Boston.”

There’s a bit of a mild racial rumpus going on right now, about what some are interpreting as overly crude and highly negative depictions of Hispanic “bad hombre” drug dealers. You know what that probably means — Clint hired some Latino guys to play drug dealers, he asked them to behave all snarly and ferocious, and now “woke” storm troopers are probably going to start crying racism and whatnot. We’re living in an age of mass hysteria, but then you know that.

I’m told that the Hispanic bad guy depictions are no biggie, and that what Eastwood has done isn’t much different from most drug dramas. Three years ago it probably wouldn’t be an issue at all. Obviously today is another story.