The director went through all the usual steps to prevent news about “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” from seeping out. Abrams even crafted a few new strategies along the way.
The film’s actors signed iron-clad non-disclosure forms. The various “Force Awakens” commercials and trailers kept basic story elements a secret.
Heck, “Star Wars” fans still don’t know why Luke Skywalker, once again played by Mark Hamill, hasn’t appeared in any of the trailers or movie posters.
Why all the secrecy? Abrams knows the best way to see a movie is to know as little about its surprises as possible. That way, every new revelation can have the maximum impact. And for a space saga as anticipated as “The Force Awakens,” that matters.
All of Abrams’ hard work probably will go for naught.
Several web sites already are releasing information about Luke’s ties to the story. It will only get worse in the days leading to the film’s official release date -- Dec. 18.
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The movie’s world premiere will be held Dec. 14, with various critics screenings likely to follow next. By Dec. 18, the movie’s biggest secrets may be secret no more. Here’s why:
- Film Critics: Most critics do all they can to hide key story elements from readers. Others don’t even bother. And this doesn’t just apply to select lower-profile movie bloggers. Some trade publications publish reviews that practically detail a film’s entire storyline. Expect to see some of this as the “Force Awakens” reviews roll in.
- Social Media: Twitter makes keeping secrets all but impossible. All it takes is one scoop, and the right hashtag, and suddenly every “Star Wars” fan will know big details about the new film.
- Journalism Rot: Remember how journalists flooded the apartment of terrorists suspects Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook just days after the San Bernardino shooting? They ignored the rules and worries about contaminating a crime scene, all in the hopes of getting a scoop. It’s typical of how reporters act in 2015. While the stakes behind a “Star Wars” spoiler are far, far below a terrorist investigation, expect journalists to spill what they know about the movie without regard for their audiences.
And then there’s the matter of human curiosity. In 1980, just after the “Empire Strikes Back” opened, this critic learned about the family ties between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. How? Someone on the schoolyard spilled the details just before I bought my movie ticket.
Twitter, Facebook and widespread web use was still decades away, but it didn’t prevent Darth Vader’s big speech from having the impact intended.
Technology makes spoiling movie surprises a snap. Only those who go off the grid until Dec. 18 can be confident of seeing “The Force Awakens” as Abrams intended.
DID YOU KNOW: The pilot for ABC’s ‘Lost,’ produced by J.J. Abrams, killed off the show’s main character, Matthew Fox’s Jack Shephard.