Earlier this year, Star Wars Episode VII producers Bryan Burk and Kathleen Kennedy reflected on the difficult decision of where to draw the line between teasing fans with details of what’s to come and outright spoiling the movie before it even reaches theaters. It’s a debate that a lot of movie fans go through on a personal basis as movie development and production details continue to become more accessible through the Internet. When you’re excited about a movie, it’s natural to want to know everything about it – but you also want to be surprised.

It’s a dilemma that Screen Rant is directly in the middle of, as a site that reports updates and rumors regarding movie releases and offers speculation as to what they might mean. On the one hand, we’re always keeping a keen eye out for any interesting news or leaked details about upcoming movies, but at the same time we kind of like it when studios succeed in keeping things under wraps. It’s an odd contradiction.

Living in the digital age, the number of avenues through which a movie script can be leaked is always growing, meaning that Hollywood producers face a constant battle to upgrade their secrecy and security measures and keep certain documents from getting into the wrong hands. The Wall Street Journal has published a very interesting report on this issue, highlighting some of the ways in which different studios endeavor to keep scripts from being leaked. Some of these stories would probably make for a pretty good spy thriller in their own right.

The report sets the scene at the offices of Christopher Nolan’s production company Syncopy where, in order to view the script for his upcoming sci-fi thriller Interstellar, those involved with the movie must first get past a security gate of a 142-acre complex, then have their name checked against a list of people with permission to view the script. After that, the privileged visitor is taken on into an office where, “No note taking is allowed, no pictures, and definitely no photocopies as you read the dog-eared, slightly faded, only physical copy of a document potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

As strange as it might sound to make people travel all the way to Syncopy’s offices in order to view a copy of a script, such a precautions are necessary in a world where humans are flawed. Just last year a copy of the script for the Doctor Who episode “Nightmare in Silver” – penned by Neil Gaiman – was left in the back of a taxi cab, where it was luckily found by a student who returned it to the BBC without reading it or posting spoilers online. Every physical copy of a script that’s let loose in the real world is one that could be left in a restaurant, or fall out of its owner’s bag, or picked up and taken to school for show-and-tell by an actor’s offspring.

J.J. Abrams’ company Bad Robot, also notorious for its secrecy, subscribes to a similar policy of safely entombing its scripts. In order for cast members to get a look at a copy of the Star Trek Into Darkness script, they first had to travel to Bad Robot’s offices in Santa Monica (housed in a building that says  “The National Typewriter Company” on the front), and after being buzzed in, were permitted to view a copy of the document that was printed on red paper, to make it more difficult to photocopy.

Notable script leaks in recent years include Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script for an R-rated Deadpool, the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, and a partial copy of The Avengers that was stolen from a printer’s memory, but luckily recovered whilst the thief was still trying to peddle it to news sites for money.

Perhaps the most poetic of leaks was the script for The Fifth Estate, which showed up on WikiLeaks last month after site founder Julian Assange (who was played by Benedict Cumberbatch) had already denounced the film as, “A mass propaganda attack against WikiLeaks, the organization (and) the character of my staff.”

WSJ’s report also contains a few interesting accounts of how recent and upcoming movies were kept under wraps. Each copy of each script for The Hunger Games adaptations has a few slightly different words, so that if it reaches the public the studio will be able to figure out exactly where the leak came from. Those involved with the production of Pacific Rim had to read the script on a special iPad application that self-destructed the document within hours of receiving it, whilst actors on Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium were given the script on custom-built iPads that kept all files locked onto the tablet.

Tell us in the comments if you would read the script for upcoming movies like Star Wars Episode VII or The Avengers: Age of Ultron if they were leaked online, or if you’d resist the temptation and wait to be surprised in the theater.

Source: Wall Street Journal