Over the last few months I've been lucky enough to have multiple sources give me information about Star Wars Episode VII. I've heard lots of plot points and I've seen lots of (very cool) concept art. Some of that art has shown up online, but much of it remains secret for now. I've reported on some of those plot points, but others I've held close to the vest. There was one plot point in particular - what someone described as the 'I am your father' moment of Episode VII - that I have very much protected. I know some other sites have also had this plot point (yes, some of us share and compare intel in an effort to be more correct!) and have also sat on it, because if true it's such a major spoiler as to potentially ruin the movie.
Someone published it yesterday. I won't link to it, and I won't repeat it, but if you've already seen this rumor, know that I can back it up from my own sources as well. It's a bummer that it's out there, and I can't really understand why anyone would share it - yes, our job is to get interesting information out there, but it isn't to wholesale ruin the movie in advance.
But I wonder if this is a function of the Mystery Box imploding. The Star Wars films have always been sort of leaky - the entire world of movie fansites sprung out of Phantom Menace leaks and rumors - but the sheer deluge of information released about Episode VII has been staggering. When The Phantom Menace was being made it was the Wild West online, but in the 15 years since studios have learned how to control the pre-release info flow by carefully releasing photos, videos and small teases in order to satiate the appetites of the fans. Episode VII has opted for almost the full Mystery Box, and with almost nothing official the fans have been swarming to scoopers to fill in the blanks.
The Mystery Box worked on Cloverfield because nobody knew what it was. The misdirection and secrecy created an urge for more information - it was beautiful marketing. Remember when people thought it was Voltron? But Star Wars is different. The hunger is already there. By making everything a secret JJ Abrams simply worked the fanbase into a frenzy for information. Without the most simple stuff - a photo spread in EW, maybe, or even character names - the fanbase turned to any possible avenue to get more insight into the most anticipated movie in the last two decades.
Blockbuster marketing isn't just about selling your movie, it's about controlling your movie. Marketing sets the tone of how the film will be receieved and marketing doles out stuff to the fans to keep them corralled - excited about what's coming next but satiated enough that they don't start seeking it outside of official channels. Marvel's very good at this; while they suffer leaks, very few are as damaging as this latest Episode VII rumor. There's stuff from Age of Ultron that's been unfortunately spoiled, but there's even more awesome stuff that has yet to be revealed, and probably won't be until the movie screens. Meanwhile Episode VII is still shooting and sites are reporting the big reveal at the end.
I don't entirely know how this is going to impact my Episode VII reporting. There's still plenty of stuff for me to discover and share with you, but I fear we're reaching a saturation level where we're going to have the whole movie outlined before it even goes into post-production. This latest rumor feels very much like crossing a line in the sand, going from fun reveals of small details to experience-ruining disclosures. It's a doubly difficult issue for me because - and I'm speaking frankly here - Star Wars stories do well for us. And I kind of like poking JJ's Mystery Box in the eye a little bit. But this reveal has taken a lot of the wind out of my sails. It doesn't feel fun now. Now I actually feel bad for the Mystery Box.
If you know the reveal, please be respectful of your fellow commenters. I'm no spoilerphobe, but even I think sharing this with people is a step too far.