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Abrams Decries Spoilers – Defends Secrecy

JJ Abrams loves a good mystery and, as an amateur magician, loves a big surprise. One look at his TV show Lost and his feature film Cloverfield and you can see that he has taken the art of a secret to a new level…and his new Star Trek film is no exception. Now Abrams talks to the Jossip blog about why he doesn’t like them spoilers.

The Entertainment Weekly article “Spoiler Nation: Secrets About Movie/TV Secrets Revealed!” offers the two sides of the argument for and against spoilers. Abrams is clearly in the anti-spoiler camp. From the article:

For J.J. Abrams, creator of Alias and director of Mission: Impossible III, the growth of spoiler culture has become so alarming, he made a movie in response to it: Cloverfield. Abrams saw his monster flick — shot on the down low and marketed with coy, minimum-disclosure teasers — as a protest against an information overload era where ”people think they’ve experienced things before they really have.” Now the director is shooting the new Star Trek movie, and he finds himself at odds with rabid Trekkies who want to know ”every gory detail about a movie that’s still a year away.” He respects their hunger, but is convinced they are better off waiting until May 8, 2009. ”Learning raw detail and experiencing that detail as it was intended are two totally different things,” he says. ”I would argue that not knowing those details in advance is a more refreshing way to live when it comes to entertainment.”

TrekMovie point of view
Abrams of course has a point. A pure surprise is always an enjoyable experience. However, the Jossip Blog points out “Some see spoiler sites as a pop culture version of Consumer Reports.” TrekMovie agrees. The new Star Trek movie is a new team with a new approach taking on an important TV and film franchise. It is full of many pitfalls and the ‘installed base’ of consumers (aka ‘Trekkies’) range from curious to cautious to downright concerned about the end product. This site has endeavored to keep the Trek community informed with both ‘secret’ and not so secret information in order to help inform the Trekkies, build the Trek brand, and increase the comfort level with the new team. In addition, Spoilers are always an ‘opt-in’ option as well, as Spoilers are labeled as such. That being said there are certain types of spoilers we would not want to reveal, like how the movie ends or any other ‘Luke I am your Father’ level of surprise.

The difference with the new Star Trek movie and a film like Cloverfield is that Trek is a known quantity and so for the general film going audience and the Trekkie audience, there are some pre-conceived notions, many of which could keep people away from the theaters and so they will never see the ‘surprise.’ Spoilers and information on the film can help some make their purchase decision and for others can help build enthusiasm to turn them into evangelists for the film. This approach is actually embraced by some film makers and TV producers. EW cites the example of Heroes, which like Trek is trying to reuild their fanbase:

After a disappointing second season, NBC plans on spilling much beanage over the summer to convince fans that the show is back on track. ”We have to show our wares,” says exec producer Tim Kring, who hopes to screen the Sept. 22 season premiere at Comic-Con in July. ”If getting buzz means spoiling some things, I’ll take buzz any day.”

And of course we are giving people what they want. In a recent poll 94% of visitors said they read spoilers.

What do you think?
Do you like spoilers? Do they help build excitement or do they tamper it?

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Austin Rhodes
June 3, 2008 5:17 pm

Ummm…then do an original story and no press beforehand…and good luck with that first weekend at the box office!

jr
June 3, 2008 5:19 pm

spoil me!

June 3, 2008 5:19 pm

All I want to see is the new Enterprise. After that, I’m find with no more spoilers.

GaryP
June 3, 2008 5:19 pm

I agree with JJ Abrams. I usually visit this site a few times a day. I will now leave this site and not return until next summer.

Everyone have a great year!

ster j
June 3, 2008 5:23 pm

Spoilers that reveal the AHA! moments in a film are just mean spirited. However, with the Trek movies, we already know the basic premise and characters. Even if all the publicity pictures were published today, it really wouldn’t be that much of a surprise because we know where the movie is going. The surprise will be in how JJ takes us from point A to B.

I used to buy the movie novelization as soon as it hit the market, read it cover to cover, then go see how what I read in the book played out on the screen. It never spoiled anything for me. If anything, it enhanced the movie experience because, in knowing the backstory whys and wherefores before hand so I didn’t have to wonder what as going on (I can’t always hear the dialogue at the theater).

StarTrekExcitement
June 3, 2008 5:24 pm

Yes I agree with JJ Abrams and as much as I can’t wait to see this movie … the really big spoilers should be left in the movie and I will see this movie regardless of any revealings of spoilers.

montreal paul
June 3, 2008 5:26 pm

I love coming to this site.. but I never read the spoilers. I want to go in to a movie not knowing anything about it. That is why I hate movie trailers.. they give too much of the movie away. I want to go in surprised.. I don’t want to watch the movie saying “Oh yeah.. i remember that picture or that is what they were talking about.” I want the awe of seeing it all for the first time. I agree with JJ’s secrecy.

Driver
June 3, 2008 5:29 pm

This, of course, is meant to keep Shatner ‘s surprise cameo under wraps. You’re not fooling me Mr. Abrams. HA!

spockanella
June 3, 2008 5:33 pm

I’m ambivalent about it. In a way I wish there were no spoilers, because if there are, I’m gonna look at em. And then I might be disappointed later that I did, kind of like when you snuck into the Christmas presents and tore back the corner of the wrapping paper. I do appreciate Anthony labeling spoilers as such so that people can make up their own minds whether to continue reading. It’s maybe a little naive of JJ to expect that NO spoilers will ever get released. It only makes people dig deeper.

OR Coast Trekkie
June 3, 2008 5:33 pm

That’s the thing: there are definitely elements which are supposed to be a suprise, as part of the artisitic direction of the film. Perhaps something like the Enterprise reveal is supposed to be one of those things which are supposed to be secret; so we can feel what it is the character is supposed to be feeling.

Denise de Arman
June 3, 2008 5:33 pm

Anthony- Spoil away, dearheart. I hope we get to see Zachary slip the Vulcan nerve pinch to some unsuspecting bad guy come next May. And, of course, Leonardo must engage some lucky person in the Vulcan mindmeld – that is a given.

SteveinSF
June 3, 2008 5:34 pm

I read the spoilers. I admit it.

SirMartman
June 3, 2008 5:38 pm

THEY TAMPER IT!

This is one Trek fan who has made a point of NOT reading spoilers,

and its killing me !!!!

I think,,if you read all the spoilers,, it will just ruin the film if you know what will happen,,you will lose the “WOW” effect.

I think JJ will do a great job,,its killing me not reading the spoilers,,,but I think its better for a true Fan not to read them.

The one thing I do want to know,,is when the next trailer will come out.

Commodore Lurker
June 3, 2008 5:38 pm

Decloaking . . .
I think TrekMovie.com has been nearly perfect in its application of Spoiler technology. The only change I suggest is a standardized spoiler alert.

Green Alert = Minor Spoilers.
Yellow Alert = Medium Spoilers.
Red Alert = Major Spoilers.

I trust the TrekMovie.com Staff to rate said Spoilers based on my experience here thus far. And IF you find out that Nimoy Spock looks seriously at Young Kirk and says: “Jim, there is a 98.375 % probability that you are my progeny.” I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW.
Recloaking.

June 3, 2008 5:39 pm

I want everything to be a surprise.

US Taxpayer Dude
June 3, 2008 5:40 pm

The need for spoilers is really a need for missing trust.

Mr Abrams is an unknown element, insofar as drama goes. I have never seen one of his productions, except for a few episodes of Lost, but it appears he relies on gimmickry if Lost is at all germane, with its deliberate confusion and antilinear portrayal of events.

I do not want gimmicks in my Star Trek. This is why I never bought any fo the various spin-offs — too many gimmicks. Too much deus ex machina. Too much technobabble. Too many foam rubber aliens. Too much bling.

Give me a minimalist play in three or four acts and I’ll be happy. If Abrams can do that, with neat sets and costumes and such thrown in as a bonus, this paying member of John Q. Public will be satisfied I got my money’s worth.

Kosher Coder
June 3, 2008 5:43 pm

I lost a LOT of respect for JJ with that. I mean, I knew he felt that way, but to see it in black and white. Disappointing.

The Underpants Monster
June 3, 2008 5:45 pm

“Minimum disclosure teasers?!?” He’s got to be kidding. I saw everything I needed to know about Cloverfield in the teasers – the extra bits I saw when I saw the movie were frosting.

Dom
June 3, 2008 5:47 pm

I’m careful with spoilers. It’s the old balancing act: feed us a little so we’ll devour the lot later on!

Michael
June 3, 2008 5:48 pm

I totally agree with you Anthony regarding the kind of spoilers that I care to see. I don’t want to know too much in advance about the story. I’d like to see the ship, some cast photos in uniform, that sort of thing but I can wait to see the story to find out the details which is why I go to the movies in the 1st place. To be honest it would have been better to have only learned of the new movie’s existence a day or 2 before the opening to be truly surprised.

ILovespoilers
June 3, 2008 5:52 pm

spoiler or no spoiler.. we are;

Going to go
Buy the merchandise
Go again to see what we missed
Buy more merchandise
Talk about buying merchandise
Talk about seeing it over and over
But the DVD when it comes out
Buy the special edition DVD when it comes out…

It makes no difference….

Look at Iron Man – practically that whole movie was available ahead of time…and it’s the biggest movie of the year…

What difference does it make if we get to see a few pictures of our heroes, and the ship they sail…

JJ, please let me see my heroes again.. and let them live in my mind and heart again…

Capt. Darrean Lampert
June 3, 2008 5:57 pm

Does anybody on the site actually have jobs? Sure your bosses are happy to know your BS’ing about Star Trek and not what your being paid to do? GO TO WORK!!! LOL!

Art
June 3, 2008 6:04 pm

I do not read spoilers or even critics’ reviews of movies I know I’m going to watch. (If i’m not sure I’ll go to rottentomatoes.com) I’m always reminded of The Simpsons ep. where Homer in the 80’s walks out of Empires Strikes Back and blabs that Vader is Luke’s father within earshot of people waiting for the next showing. Imagine having the internet spoil “Vader is Luke’s Father”, or “He was dead the whole time” or “Who’s Kaizer Soze”.

This site likens spoilers as a sort of Consumer Reports, but we don’t report on the manufacturing of the product before it hits the shelves. We wait until it has been finalized and presented before we analyze the final product.

But I wouldn’t consider it a spoiler if it was revealed that they changed the Vulcan hand sign from “Live long and Prosper” to “Two in the pink, two in the stink.”
That just wrong.
Funny… but wrong.

Closettrekker
June 3, 2008 6:10 pm

#22i—Some of us are bosses…With that said, if any of my employees were found to be doing what I do at this site or another, they might get a stern talking to. As for me, I’m signing the checks, and this is what I worked hard for years to be able to do with part of my day.

I read the spoilers, but I trust Abrams to surprise me as well. In the past, I’ve actually known too much about Star Trek movies before their release. I don’t think that will be the case this time.

June 3, 2008 6:11 pm

I prefer not to know the full plot or story synopsis beforehand, But I think finding out what some of the ships will look like and uniforms etc. and some basic plot points can’t possibly spoil the movie for most people. For an example, I remember the thrill of seeing Ralph McQuarrie’s production paintings for Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi in Starlog magazine when I was a kid, months before the films hit the screeen (and long before the Internet)–getting those glimpses of what was in store was very cool. Knowing a few things prior to sitting down in the theater didn’t in any way diminish the movie-going experience.

James Heaney - Wowbagger
June 3, 2008 6:11 pm

Every time that man opens his mouth, I look forward to this movie all the more.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Abrams. Spoilers enable people to take a movie apart, piece by piece, rather than experiencing the vision of the director and producers and the actors and the writers -as it was intended to be experienced.- It gets even worse when “spoiled” fans get the perverse idea that their knowing movie fragments somehow entitles them to have an opinion on a movie that isn’t even finished yet. I have yet to see a spoiler that *built* excitement… I have only seen those that satisfied fans who were eager for anything (and who would have been *more* excited had no spoilers been available). In short, I believe–firmly–that spoilers *only* hurt movies. Beyond the scantiest of information, released at the proper time (in a teaser or trailer), any benefit fans perceive in spoilers is self-deception.

This being said, I do not begrudge Anthony his decision to run spoilers on TrekMovie.com–it is a news site, after all, and no self-respecting journalist would censor himself without very good reason–and I must say that I’ve never seen a site that is so careful with spoilers as Mr. Pascale is. He deserves high praise for this. What I cannot comprehend is the mentality of the (reported) other 94% of you.

Incidentally, O Mighty Webmaster, does this mean that, should you somehow obtain a full script to XI, you won’t publish it?

US Taxpayer Dude
June 3, 2008 6:12 pm

^24

Me too. It’s nice when the boss always agrees with you :-)

Tom
June 3, 2008 6:14 pm

i like to see peaks of the production (ships, uniforms, sets) but that’s it. The idea of “consumer reports” with regard to intellectual property is a slippery thing. And the revealing of spoilers can destroy that property, too, even the good stuff.

But publishing spoilers, even with alerts, can backfire. If a blog or gossip site gets something out, the production may deem them persona non grata and deny them exclusive interviews, etc.

Hope that doesn’t happen here

MORN SPEAKS
June 3, 2008 6:25 pm

Things that may be in a trailer aren’t really spoilers for me (with the exception of both Enterprises blowing up in their trailers), but I’m happy Abrams is keeping as much as possible under wraps.

Spoilers are like a drug, I don’t want to take them or look at them, but I can’t help myself.

I need a spoiler rehab.

krikzil
June 3, 2008 6:26 pm

Personally I love spoilers. I’ve read movie scripts while they’re still filming; read novelizations in line for the movie. ;) (My handle in another fandom was “spoilergal” once upon a time.) It doesn’t ruin it for me, just makes me anticipate and imagine the actors giving it life AND also helps accept things that I don’t want to see. LIke Spock’s death in ST2. I still remember sobbing in my hotel room reading the script at a con a good 6 months before the film was due out. I would NEVER have made it through the movie that first time otherwise!

Of course, I think spoilers need to be clearly labeled so as not to ruin it for people who don’t like them.

June 3, 2008 6:28 pm

JJ: AMEN, BROTHER! I do not like too many spoilers. I agree that it’s best to keep most things secret so that one can be given the shock of the new upon seeing the film.

Spoilers that are clearly marked are not an issue for me, so long as they are indeed marked. I am speaking of the abstract, in the main; the idea as regards too many spoilers is that they do tend to spoil the broth! At least, methinks.

Pizza
June 3, 2008 6:31 pm

I avoid spoilers, and look forward to seeing everything fresh. I want the full enjoyment of the entire movie without any knowledge if possible, Which can be difficult in the information age.

Just hang in there everyone. We have less than a year to go. And who knows, they changed their minds once, they might do it again and we could see it sooner.

spockanella
June 3, 2008 6:31 pm

22′, 24, 27: Yes, some of us are bosses. Some of us who are bosses treat our employees like responsible adults and acknowledge that the occasional brief mental health break makes for a more productive, refreshed staff. Of course, if it gets out of control and productivity suffers, then I’d have an issue. Otherwise, to borrow a phrase, it’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Keep those spoilers coming, Anthony. I’ll agonize over it, but I’ll read em (sometimes even on company time).

June 3, 2008 6:40 pm

I respect Mr. Abrams opinion , and I agree, up to a certain point . For example showing us , (the consumers) , a fully rendered U.S.S. Enterprise and fully costumed and made up cast photo from the new bridge, I don’t think would ruin anything for anyone, but stoke the burning fire of the fan base of those familiar with the franchise , and perhaps peak the curiosity of the new fans. Nowhere would the plot be revealed by letting us glimpse the 2 pictures . Just something to consider .

Decker's Stubble
June 3, 2008 6:45 pm

I have no problems with spoilers. After all, this isn’t a M. Night Shyamalan movie, with some weird trick ending – it’s Star Trek. I mean, we can all pretty much guess how the sandwich is going to turn out, even if the cook doesn’t want to tell us what kind of lunch meat he used. Besides, it’s a fact of life that the hype never, ever matches reality.

Instead of complaining, Abrams should use spoilers to tease the audience and build more excitement. Or, if he’s that concerned, he should run a good old-fashioned disinformation campaign, “leaking” false spoilers along with real ones so that no one trusts anything coming out.

Spocko
June 3, 2008 6:51 pm

I don’t like spoilers. I hate when a new movie comes out and someone tells the story/ending. And how there are thousands of websites devoted to telling a movies story before the movie gets to. There are a few minor spoilers that I have decided to see here, like a tribble appearance, but other then that, I’ll waite for the movie.

Magic_Al
June 3, 2008 6:52 pm

Delaying the movie is the wrong way to contain spoilers.

Fed up
June 3, 2008 7:00 pm

ST XI: No press = silence. How do they intend to promote and build anticipation for the general public in regard to this movie?

Not good, not good at all.

demon barber of starfleet
June 3, 2008 7:01 pm

I agree with not having any huge spoilers that might give away anything too important about the plot. I want to be in suspense when I see it, not know just what’s going to happen beforehand. But being a rabid Trekkie I can’t help but eagerly assimilate any little tidbits I can get my hands on until the movie.

Denise de Arman
June 3, 2008 7:05 pm

Decker’s Stubble#35- Like the idea of a disinformation campaign: Will JJ introduce the Vulcan lovegrip to new audiences? Will elder Spock meld with his younger self and convince him that he needs to teach young Kirk the Vulcan lovegrip? Will younger Spock meld with young Kirk and convince him that the Vulcan lovegrip is better than anything he has ever gotten from Ruth, Janice or Carol? Will Anthony sternly reprimand Denise for wandering into dangerous territory on this thread…

June 3, 2008 7:10 pm

With a year to go, all I would want to see is a full view of the Enterprise. And the crew, thats it…and as time passes, we will see it. I believe Bob Orci said a second trailer is done, its just a matter of when, my bet is will see a teaser around Christmas time.

Splurch
June 3, 2008 7:11 pm

I wish that we could stop using the term “Trekkie” to refer to Trek fans. It’s bad enough that the news media focuses on the most extreme & geeky fans and passes them off as the norm, but the term “Trekkie” just makes it worse.

As for spoilers, I agree that a certain amount of information can actually help increase the buzz for a film. I think that most Trek fans want to be assured that they are not going to go into this movie and find it’s like the 1998 Godzilla movie that was a huge disappointment. The producer of that movie also went to extremes to keep the details under wraps. They changed things too much and it wasn’t even recognizable as Godzilla.

Xai
June 3, 2008 7:17 pm

It’s a year AWAY! You cannot promote a film a year in advance and expect the hype to last and do what it’s intended.

And somehow you know…

Xai
June 3, 2008 7:17 pm

#43 was directed to #38

Xai
June 3, 2008 7:19 pm

37. Magic_Al – June 3, 2008
“Delaying the movie is the wrong way to contain spoilers.”

That was not the reason to delay the movie…but you already know that.

Michelle
June 3, 2008 7:19 pm

“JJ Abrams loves a good mystery and as a amateur…” I think that should read “an amateur” right?

I agree with keeping spoilers at a minimum; I think movies are much more enjoyable in general when you go to see them without knowing TOO much about what is going to happen. That said, I find it very hard to resist temptation to avoid spoilers when it’s something like this that I’m so excited about. I think seeing the trailer to the movie and reading the reviews of movie credits who don’t give away too much of the plot is all one really needs to gauge whether or not this movie is something they have a good chance of enjoying.

If some really juicy spoilers come to light, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep from reading them. I’ve ready every spoiler so far that’s come this way, so I’m hoping the secrecy holds so I don’t have to keep failing to give in to my temptations.

Nelson
June 3, 2008 7:29 pm

I want to be surprised. Spock’s death in Trek 2 was somewhat leaked, but it wasn’t till I saw it happen that I believed it. That’s a huge spoiler.

I don’t want to know till I see the new movie.

ThePhaige
June 3, 2008 7:36 pm

I just want to see a full length trailer and I will be happy. I am rooting for
JJs stealth machine keeping the secrets. Many are watching closely to see if he can pull off the secrecy up until the end. If the spoiler tank isn’t breached, it will be a huge accomplishment unheard of in this time of flash information.

Negotiator
June 3, 2008 7:38 pm

Most of us just want to see the new crew and the big E. Those are not spoilers. It’s called marketting. A trailer and promo shots will come out ahead of the movie eventually. Remember this movie got pushed back 6 months. A crew shot or a beauty shot of the big E will apeace and excite the base until the movie comes out. Without the established base of Trekkies, this movie will flop no matter how good it is. This is the crowd that will go back more than once and buy the merchendise and DVDs. That’s how these movies become block busters and directors mega rich and powerful. I’m getting the sence that JJ is afraid to Ps-off or disappoint the base by releasing some pictures. If he doesn’t trust his project, why should we? If JJ is serious about surprises then why put out a teaser at all? Is he not going to promote the movie at all until it comes out? Surprise! Of course not. Pictures will come out from JJ’s team. One now could calm some nerves and help with the extra long wait ahead of us.

Garovorkin
June 3, 2008 7:47 pm

To much secrecy, I would like to see a few photos or clip or two of film . I am not asking for major spoiler here.

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