Between excited fans and nosy film bloggers, major studios currently have their work cut out for them when trying to keep story details and secrets under wraps until a film gets released. A number of production companies – J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot label being one particularly salient example – now put a lot of work into making sure that their secrets stay secret.
With that in mind, there’s no film that you’d expect be more shrouded in secrecy than Star Wars Episode VII, the first of the new Star Wars films to be produced by Disney after the company bought Lucasfilm, and the start of what is currently being planned as a new film trilogy and multi-platform franchise. However, producer Kathleen Kennedy said in a recent interview that she feels ready to “embrace” Internet culture and all the spoilers, rumors and speculation that come with it – and that, “there are things you’re gonna want to make sure [the fans] get to know.”
However, SlashFilm has spoken to another of Star Wars Episode VII‘s producers, Bryan Burk, regarding Kennedy’s comments, and he had a slightly different take on the matter. While he acknowledges that fan buzz can be a great positive when it comes to promoting a film, he also thinks that there’s some value in secrecy:
“Nobody saw ET before and I didn’t know what the temple in The Temple of Doom was until I saw it. I guess what I’m saying is it’s always that balance. It’s a hard thing. If I were to right now tell you all of the things that were going to happen in Star Wars in detail, the left side of your brain would say ‘Awesome,’ you guys would have this exclusive and know all of this stuff. But the right side is going to sit down one day and see the movie for the first time and you’d have all of that kind of spoiled, so it’s that balance of wanting to know everything and not wanting to know everything at the same time.”
One of the blessings and curses of social media is that if a studio does any filming outside, in an area that’s not completely closed off from public view, any passing Average Joe can snap a photo, upload it to Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter and tag it with the film’s name before the director even has time to call ‘cut.’ Additionally, since Hollywood is leakier than a sieve when it comes to actors negotiating and auditioning for roles, it’s incredibly difficult to keep even cameo appearances a secret right up until a film’s release.
And that’s just the information that gets released through unofficial channels. The current standard for movie marketing is to release two or three full-length trailers, up to a dozen TV spots, a number of different international posters, a mass of set photos and promotional stills, and interviews with the cast and crew that result from both organised junkets and general red carpet ambushes.
Some directors have embraced the atmosphere of rumor and speculation that surrounds a film’s production, on the basis that all publicity is good publicity; Marc Webb, for example, has been posting a different photo for every day of filming on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, some of which have given away major aspects of the plot.
Here at Screen Rant we always try to include a warning if we’re about to break out a serious spoiler, so that readers can avoid them if they prefer to, but the collective effect of so many minor details and snippets being released over time is that you can sometimes find yourself sitting in the theater waiting for a certain actor to show up or a plot twist that you’ve heard about prematurely. Elaborate, explosive set-pieces that could have been mind-blowing if they were seen for the first time are instead impressive, but familiar, when the audience has already seen them multiple times in different trailers.
One solution to this, of course, is to deliberately avoid reading any news stories or watching any trailers at all, but when you’re looking forward to a movie it can sometimes be almost impossible to resist the temptation of getting a sneak peek at it. Perhaps the air of secrecy that Burk talks about is necessary… if only to save us from ourselves.
Do you agree that learning a movie’s secrets ahead of time spoils the experience when you finally get to see it, or is it all part of the fun?
Star Wars Episode VII is expected to be out on general release in Summer 2015.