J.J. Abrams is infamous for secrecy. Whether it was his hand in Lost, the biggest secret keeping show of all time, or perhaps most prominently now, the basic identity of Benedict Cumberbatch‘s villainous character in Star Trek Into Darkness, the director likes to keep his spoilers spoilery. The only other person in Hollywood who comes close might be Christopher Nolan.
But Abrams’ deal to make Star Wars VII isn’t just any old deal. He’s working for Disney now, and if there’s one thing they’re going to be watching very closely, its their historic revitalization of the Star Wars franchise. You should know what’s coming next: Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy talking about the need to embrace the fan culture that demands detail upon detail before the release of a movie.
Kennedy was recently interviewed by Screen Slam, and this exchange occured:
Now how important is secrecy for the company [while making Star Wars VII], and how do you try and keep secrets considering how fast things are traveling?
We talk about that all the time. I think the whole issue of confidentiality is gonna be fascinating as we move into making the movie. If we’re shooting anything outside, it’s almost impossible to not have things end up on the Internet. So my feeling is, you need to embrace that, especially with the fans around something like Star Wars. You need to recognize they’re important to the process and acknowledge there are things you’re gonna want to make sure they get to know. So I think that’s something we’re going to monitor, pay attention to and think differently about.
Does this mean that J.J. Abrams will have to relax some of his usual standards of secret keeping? Quite possibly. This will be good news for some, bad news for others. I’ve heard the argument that stories should ascribe to be just as compelling whether or not you know their “spoilers,” and I think while that makes sense and is a laudable goal for creatives, it’s equally as laudable for a viewer to strive towards that lovely frission of having a twist revealed for the first time.
In the context of Star Wars, though, this debate gets even more interesting, I think. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know that Darth Vader is Luke’s father and that he and Leia are brother and sister, but I do remember watching the Star Wars movies for the first time. It’s a demonstrable fact that those movies succeed even after their most fundamental realizations are broad and established cultural knowledge. Lets hope that, regardless of how close they keep their production secrets, Abrams and Disney can give us a good addition to that cultural knowledge.