Every time a new nerdbait movie comes out, the internet goes through the saga of dealing with it, and I believe this experience is quantifiable and can be broken down into five discreet stages. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has her five stages of grieving (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance), and geeks have their five stages of experiencing a movie.

Note: this is only applicable to major impending geek properties, such as Avatar or the Star Wars prequels. Under the radar films like District 9 or Paranormal Activity have slightly different stages.

Stage 1 – Anticipation

When a geek property is announced, the anticipation starts almost immediately. The internet first becomes awash in fantasy casting (“I think Ray Stevenson would make an amazing Bilbo Baggins!”), and then in obsessive following of the minutia of development and production. For the truly major geek properties no detail is too small to be spy photographed, dissected, argued over and become the source of personal hatred, recrimination and anger.

Anticipation is a highly volatile state for the geek. The geek can swing between the highest of highs – casting announcements that stir the blood – to the lowest of lows – like the first look at the costumes from X-Men. This is when the geek is most susceptible to trolls and fakers, folks who will create fake images of Heath Ledger in his Joker make-up or who will drop phony spoilers on forums.

Anticipation is the longest stage; in the case of Jim Cameron’s Avatar it lasted an entire decade. The length of anticipation can have an impact on the intensity of Stage 3, Backlash.

Stage 2 – Hype

Please note: Stages 2 and 3 can, depending on the situation and the property, be switched around or happen concurrently.

Twenty minutes of the movie is shown at Comic Con, or to a select audience of web critics. The trailers begin to really come together and sell the movie. You see people on messageboards boasting that the latest image released is now their desktop; some guy takes the trailer and captures each frame and comments on it on his blog. At this point the impending film takes on transformative powers; some people will cry while watching just the trailer, others will play the soundtrack over and over again. If the film is coming out after Comic Con, people will attend Comic Con already dressed as new characters/races/monsters from the film.

Stage 3 – Backlash

Please note: Stages 2 and 3 can, depending on the situation and the property, be switched around or happen concurrently.

All of the Anticipation and Hype for the movie cause a very vocal subgroup of geeks to decide that they hate the film. This can be based on real problems with the film – ie, the geek masses are falling in love with the effects, but where’s the story? – or on the backlasher’s own strange personal foibles – Peter Jackson left out Tom Bombadil? FUCK THIS MOVIE!

The worst backlashers are those who backlash against small films. This is the ‘Yeah, District 9 was good, but you guys talked it up too much’ moron. This backlasher is not backlashing against the movie but against their own ridiculous expectations. Instead of accepting that the fault lies in themselves for getting too amped up, the backlasher acts as if the early adopters of the property were somehow trying to trick him.

Stage 4 – Acceptance

Let’s face it – no matter how you feel about this big geek property pre-release, you will fucking see it when it comes out. This is our curse. Maybe you’ll wait until home video for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but you will see it. Oh yes you will. You just can’t help yourself.

Stage 5 – Marketing

Once the back and forth is over, once the message board threads have petered out, the final stage of the movie geek experience with major releases is the ancillary marketing. Yeah, you didn’t like Terminator Salvation very much but damn, that Hot Toys 12 inch figure of Christian Bale as John Connor would look really great alongside your 12 inches of Edward Furlong and Nick Stahl. And hey, Star Wars Episode III: Rise of the Sith wasn’t so hot but that Jango Fett polystone bust is kind of bitching. Sure, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a terrible sequel, but that poster! It’s Drew Struzan! You have to add it to the gallery.

Finally, you buy the Blu-Ray box set rerelease.