There once was a time when studios actually wanted to get fans excited for major films, but those days are over. And there is no better example than Star Wars: Episode VII. The upcoming sequel set to kick off a new age of one of film’s most iconic franchises is just years away, and Disney is making sure that fans have no concrete information to get excited about.
That trend is spreading across Hollywood in regards to blockbuster franchises, but director J.J. Abrams explains that Star Wars brings a level of secrecy he’s never experienced, and has him wondering if the value of anticipation is being overlooked.
Since announced, rumors of possible casting, relationship to the announced spin-off films, and plot details have spread like wildfire in the absence of any official word. Speaking with the Telegraph, Abrams expresses he is all too aware of the public interest, and just what kind of pressures surround a project as beloved and valued as the one he’s currently steering:
“Are you kidding me? My god. My office… I’m working on the Star Wars script today and the people in my office have covered up all my windows with black paper. I guess they wanted to make sure no one could see what I was doing… It seems rather extreme.”
Having to hide from binocular-wielding fans is certainly taking extreme precautions, but in an age when online sentiment can either hype or hinder a film’s buzz, Hollywood executives are going to absurd lengths to keep scripts secret. The fact that Star Wars has undergone more than a few screenwriter changes, reportedly to bring back heroes Luke, Han and Leia instead of starting fresh, is sure to get fans hungrier than ever for concrete evidence.
Apparently the script for Episode VII is now complete, but that won’t mean sudden casting announcements, character details, or a plot synopsis. And even if Abrams himself confirmed that the film will involve the children of either Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, the secrecy surrounding Star Trek Into Darkness is impossible for sci-fi fans to forget.
Abrams has already explained why he came to regret the secrecy (or lack thereof) surrounding Into Darkness‘ iconic villain, claiming that he and the studio fed misinformation to keep fans surprised, and newcomers from being intimidated. But with his next Star project, he won’t be pulling the same trick twice:
“We were trying to preserve the unexpected for the audience, but it came across as if we were trying to be too clever… Star Wars is in every way a different animal. It’s always been a more open, fan-engaged universe than I’ve been used to, so I’m sure there’ll be some sort of compromise. But it feels to me like there’s a purity in not knowing every little thing.”
“We’re living in a moment of instant information and a sense of entitlement to that information… But I think it’s nice to remember that there’s nothing wrong with a sense of anticipation.”
There is certainly some wisdom in Abram’s words, and that fact becomes clearer every time fans overreact to a casting announcement, costume concept art, or set photos appear online. In the end, the movie is going to be released regardless, and everyone involved with jump-starting the Star Wars saga knows just what is at stake. If Abrams granted the fans’ loudest demands – explained the plot, central characters, specific cameos and future plan – would fans be more, or less excited?
Those details will likely be released eventually, so only then will we see how fans react. Speaking for yourself, do you feel entitled to details on such an iconic film series, or do you, like Abrams, think that there is something to be said for being surprised? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters December 18, 2015.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.