Between trailers that ruin the endings of films, people who spoil movies on Twitter, and a 24/7 movie-news cycle that breathlessly reports on every bit of movie minutia, it’s pretty hard to see a movie these days without knowing exactly what you’re in for.
There’s at least one filmmaker fighting the good fight to keep details surrounding his projects a secret, though. Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams is an iconoclast in this strange new world where directors can’t wait to talk about their plot twists and show behind-the-scenes footage months before a feature is slated for release. Abrams is secretive about everything – shrouding each new film in an air of mystery like it had been covered with a Romulan Cloaking Device. He recently explained why he does this in an interview with EW.
“I will sit in a meeting before a movie with 80-some people, heads of departments, and literally say that all I ask is that we preserve the experience for the viewer. Every choice we make, every costume fitting, every pad of makeup, every set that’s built — all that stuff becomes less magical if it’s discussed and revealed and pictures are posted online. I just want to make sure that when somebody sees something in a movie they didn’t watch a 60-minute behind-the-scene [video] that came out two months before. We just say up front that all the work we’re doing is about making this a special experience for the viewer; let’s preserve that as long as we can.
“Why do I want to see [a behind-the-scenes element of the film] if it’s something I don’t even understand yet? Let me experience it so I know what the movie is and have the opportunity to get sucked into that experience, and feel like, ‘Oh my God, that world is real, that ship is real, that battle is real’ … If I’ve [already] seen how ILM or whatever visual-effects company made that look real, you’re ruining it before it even exists.”
Abrams is right – even if his approach makes our job harder than it has to be, and even if we occasionally get annoyed that he still hasn’t told us who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing in Star Trek Into Darkness. We’re not sure why Hollywood is so hell-bent on showing us every bit of magic that happens behind the curtain before we’ve seen the show out front, but it’s a lot like watching a magician explain exactly how he’s going to do a trick before he actually does it. The trick becomes anticlimactic.
Abrams and his fellow secretive filmmakers seem to be a dying breed these days – and even someone as concerned with keeping things as close to the vest as possible can’t keep everything under wraps (see the lengthy Star Trek preview for proof of that…), but at least Abrams is trying to make your first viewing of Star Trek Into Darkness magical and exciting – which is something we wish more studios and filmmakers were concerned with these days.
What do you guys think? Would you prefer less behind-the-scenes details and spoilers before a film’s release or do you want to devour every detail you can about your favorite projects as they wind through development?