When I ran my piece about spoilers, I asked you guys for your opinions. Man, did you ever come through in a big way. This was the biggest influx of mail I have ever gotten that didn’t mostly consist of people wishing me dead. And best of all, almost every single email was long and well written. I look at the feedback on some other sites and realize that the group of mooks reading CHUD is without a doubt the smartest group of mooks on the internet.
I got so many emails that I can’t run them all, but I am going to run a couple of installments of this letters column so I can air some of them. And the quality of these emails was so high that I literally chose the ones to print randomly – I knew I could open any email and find one worthy of inclusion here. The sheer number of emails means I may not be able to reply to them all, especially because I’m going to be on the road for the next week – but know that I did read every single one and I appreciate them all.
Dave shouts: Hi there. My name is Dave and i live in
So anyways, as a movie fan, i obviously oftentime find myself trying to learn more about a movie that is being kept under wraps. Just the other day i read a script review of Spider-Man 3. Why? I didn’t need know the plot…i guess maybe i was bored. But now all i can do is try and forget what i learned. Knowing these things about the script (and assuming they’re true) doesn’t enhance my excitement for a movie. Casting does. Set pictures do. Those are the things that get my fanboy heart beating faster.
I tend to think that lately websites have been better about at least warning people before they unleash spoiler material. I really like the chud technique of warning readers, and then letting them swipe over the invisible text to read it. That way you don’t ruin it for anyone by accident. Curious eyes like mine can still read the article and then fight their hands as they click on the next article.
The guy who reviews movies for our local newspaper sucks because all he does is basically explain the plot of every movie he sees. I personally don’t care about that. Most people i know prefer reviews that have a quick recap of the plot, and then a set clear reasons why the reviewer liked or disliked the film, or album, or book, or whatever.
Writer Chuck Klosterman once wrote that learn more about the reviewer than the thing being reviewed when you read art criticism. And that’s true, but on the internet i think people gravitate to the kinds of writers they prefer. They don’t have to read the boring guy from the newspaper. Chud readers go to chud becuase it’s accurate, and usually really fucking funny. Obviously the promise of spoilers tends to get me clicking on links i later wish i hadn’t, but that’s human nature. I say when it comes to set pics, costumes, casting…those things can only help drum up interest in a movie. How many people hated that Batmobile when they first saw it in those grainy pictures from Batman Begins? My friends wanted to see the movie just because they hated that Batmobile so much (of course they loved it after the movie was over). When it comes to plot spoilers months or a year before a movie comes out…i just don’t see the point. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t print it. As long as give a good warning and print it in swipe-able letters, i think it’s then purely on the readers to decide how much is too much.
Devin replies: Your mention of the local critic reminds me that I’ve been working on an editorial about movie reviews for some time. I hate the “describe the movie plot” style of film criticism, and I think it’s lazy and fairly stupid. Plus it’s the kind of thing that can hurt someone’s enjoyment of a movie.
As for early pictures – you’re right. We see early images and make these assumptions. It happens online again and again, and it seems like we don’t learn from movie to movie. Remember the uproar about Superman’s costume?
BB shouts: First off, I must begin with a few kudos directed at you. I’ve only been reading your site for a year and I find much more informational than AICN. Harry seems to have too much fanboy in him to write a review that isnt biased. (read his Kong interview) You however, have a level head and actually use common sense in your writing. Which in turn gives us readers a more in depth and interesting review even if we didnt agree with it (Batman Begins was great, but you had many valid points about the film)
Spoilers have had too much of an effect on the movie going population. One example is Xmen 3. My mind was so polluted by the internet backlash that I couldnt enjoy the film without critiquing it during the screening. When my friends and I were done watching it, all I was saying was how weak it was while my friends had a look of joy on their faces as if they were little kids. I miss that feeling you get when you walk into a movie blind without any knowlege to it. If it’s a great flick, like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I am extatic and I feel that I didnt waste 2 hours sitting down and staring at a screen.
Another problem that I have with spoilers is that I dont feel the need to watch the movie in the theaters if I know a significant amount of information about it. I still have not seen Pirates, Mission Impossible 3, Cars, Over The Hedge or any other summer blockbuster because of this.
Now I dont even bother reading early reviews or read about spoilers. It keeps useless information out of my mouth and keeps my friends from dubbing me the "movie guy" if we ever bump into some fine ladies. There’s nothing more of a cock block than being dubbed "the movie guy".
Or maybe it’s because I’ve started working on in the business. I just recently got hired by Universal to work as an additional PA on their new film The Kingdom. The amount of work that goes into one day of shooting astonishes me and has further altered any future criticisms I have about movies. I bet if half of those movie geeks did the amount of work that I did in one day of shooting they would feel the same
Devin replies: BB, we love Peter Berg. Please tell him that CHUD loves him and that he should debut some early images here so that the internet can tear them apart!
I’ve been on a bunch of set visits now, and I agree with you about the work that goes into a day’s shooting. I can’t watch a minute long scene in a movie where two guys walk down the street anymore without thinking ‘It took them four hours to film this.’
Michael shouts: I CHUD,
I dont really like spoilers.
If you wish to give more spoilers, just warn us before or blank them.
Devin replies: I CHUD, You CHUD, We CHUD, Googoogajoo.
Steve Martini shouts: At this point in life, the only reason movies are even enjoyable is the childhood wonder of what’s going to happen next.
Devin replies: Is this really the guy who writes Grisham knockoff novels? How come they aren’t making real movies out of your books? No wonder you don’t find films enjoyable – they’re never yours. Sad face.
Bryan shouts: here’s my 2 cents for what its worth:
1. I love that if I want to know something about a movie before it is out, I can and usually do find it after a short while of searching.
2. I hate that after I find said item about said movie I feel like shit because I just ruined the movie for myself.
Thats about sums it up.
The internet is a blessing and a curse and all things inbetween.
Devin replies: That about sums up my feelings on 15 year old Thai hookers on Craigslist, as well.
does this sound silly? I also have a great deal of interest inthe film making process and knowing the script and how it actually translates on screen is another bonus for me.
Devin replies: In a lot of ways I’m right there with you. I’ve read a bunch of scripts very far in advance, and writing for CHUD means that I end up with a lot more information than I normally would, and sometimes that stuff makes me excited. Being on a set and seeing them filming a scene gets me pumped, seeing incredible spy photos gets me psyched, and reading early reviews gives me a raging chubby. But the truth is that many of my favorite films end up being the ones I go to and have never even heard of before. As a critic I attend a lot of movie screenings a week, and often I don’t even know what I’m seeing from screening to screening. That’s how I saw Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, and it ended up being one of my favorite films of 2005.
Victor shouts: It’s interesting that you bring up the prequel mania. That’s how I got hooked on Chud in the first place: scrounging around the internet for information on Revenge of the Sith. It was rare to find anything that you actually felt might be worth paying attention to. Chud seemed the right mixture of fanboy and honest critic, something certain similar (sibilance, anyone?) websites are unfortunately lacking. So anyway, it’s because of spoilers that I found the site. But that said, I’m actually quite split on the subject. I love movies, and as such, I’m always going to be trying to find engaging dialogues about them, both those I’m anticipating, and those I’ve already seen. However once that critical mass of spoilers is achieved, I do believe the experience is compromised.
When you go to the movies, it is to be told a story. To me, having a film spoiled for you is like having somebody retell the story as though they heard it in passing; all the major beats are there, but the connective tissue is missing. That’s a mixed metaphor, but do you see what I’m getting at? It’s like reading the cliffs notes to a book before reading the actual text. You get cheated of the initial discovery.
However, this is assuming that the information is raw. In reality spoilers are presented on these websites with editorial, both from the website proper and its message board (a special kind of hell). We are all complicit in the systems of power that define society. All too often people neglect to make up their own minds, and instead are informed by the spectacle. To avoid a feedback loop of criticism, to allow a progressive dialogue to take place, it is important for people to experience something before they learn how to interpret it (or have it interpreted for them). It’s a constant struggle that I think we all go through in countless ways and shapes during our lifetimes. Spoiling a movie is, in a sense, to make up someone’s mind for them. Some will overcome the influence, but others will not.
It’s a new phenomenon, the ability to criticize a work before the artist has a chance to finish it. As an artist I would find it infuriating to hear people talking about how much my work sucks before they have even seen it (not *will* suck, an important distinction because it is here that speculation ends and decisions as to quality are made). As an active audience member it frustrates me to feel that my initial viewing has been compromised. However, all this said, I am a glutton for information and tend to gobble up everything in sight. But that’s my personal battle, and it’s none of your business. I guess you could call me a recovering spoiler-fiend who should stay away from those who are holding, but really can’t.
Devin replies: You hit on one of the biggest problems with the internet. It’s great how the internet can get people mobilized and excited for films, but it also gives people a forum to spout off incredibly ill-informed opinions. In the last couple of years I have talked to many filmmakers who can’t seem to stop reading the talkbacks and messageboards out there, and they get bummed out. I think that your average angry pimply 15 year old who is flaming a movie on the internet doesn’t realize that people are actually reading their bile.
Brad shouts: Before I rant and rave about spoilers, it sounds to me like you sincerely want your readers opinions on the subject and to properly get the best info you may want to know my information. Male, 28, New Jersey-bred, College grad (Graphic Design with a minor in film). Huge Music and Movie fanatic. Have a DVD collection of well over 1100 films. I try to see a movie in the theatre a week but that’s nearly impossible with budget, time and selection.
Also, Let me get the slurping of your ass out of the way and tell you that CHUD is probably my favorite film related website. Not only is it informative but I think I mostly read it for entertainment value. Your review of “Alone in the Dark” was the funniest, laugh-out-loud reviews of a film I’ve ever read. I think I read it 4 times already when I have too much free time at work to pass the time. I’ve never even seen the film and if I would ever want to it would because of your insults and criticisms. HA! I read AICN also but I’m sick of those guys always disagreeing with my opinions after I see a film. They are too geeky for me. You fellas seem more ‘grounded’ in your approach to cinema, like a student of film would and not so much as fans, like the guys at AICN. I get more useful information from your staff of writers.
Anyway, to answer your inquiry on spoilers, I don’t mind them for some reason. As I get older I find that I distrust Hollywood so much that I need more and more verification and peeks into the films I’m interested in to get me into the theatre. Since ‘99 with Phantom Menace I tried to know the least amount to the film. At the time I wasn’t so accustomed to sites like AICN and CHUD to even delve into spoiler territory. The most spoilery thing I learned about Episode I was from the Soundtrack (Qui-Jonn’s Funeral) and any info from the action figures (I can’t think of an example except for Clone’s Anakin’s removable hand. [right, not much of a spoiler])
A friend of mine swore off spoilers or any information about The Two Towers, even as far as not wanting to see the trailers. I don’t remember if it was for Gollum (who wasn’t even shown on the trailer if memory serves me correct) or just for the shear sake of “going in blind.” To me it was extraneous to do so b/c he was already a fan of the LOTRs and has read and known the books, not so much to spoil really except for the cinematic look of characters or locales. I never really got a reaction from him if his approach was for the better or not. To me that kind of info is subjective actually and more or less useless.
In a way, through the SW prequels, as I saw how much they lacked in quality I HAD to know what the story was, characters and their dealings and involvements, so on and so forth b/c of me “having a bad feeling about this.” By Revenge of the Sith I knew everything from story to design and still saw it 3 times in the theatre. Once at the premiere, once digital and once high off my mind [the latter a weak attempt to try to like it, the digital to check out how much better digital progressed since I didn’t like Clones digitally] I bought the Art of Sith book, I think, before the film. Nothing was new to me save for the dialogue in that film. But as an ardent Star Wars fan I was ‘destined’ as a fan to see all three prequels no matter how bad each one got or was critiqued. Plus, and call me an optimist, I was hoping it was better than they were saying. Oh well.
I check AICN and CHUD everyday to get new info, b/c to me info on a movie is like reading the scouting reports for sports. I put a lot of time, energy and money into films, DVDs and some memorabilia that it would be somewhat foolish to go in blind to a movie or based on just the trailer. I also check the imdb daily to check cast lists, directors, etc. It sounds petty to compare movies to an investment but I feel they are. Being disappointed by a movie I was really looking forward to is a real downer. 2+ hours & 10-20 bucks wasted. I used to be selective of the spoilers I may have read. But now I just don’t care. Last week I read the spoilers you posted on Spiderman 3. No hesitation. I loved the first one, that being one of the more recent greatest cinematic experiences. The second one was a bit of a let down for me. It was good, near great but I had my criticism of it, especially it being a rehash of the first but with a new villain. So now with 3-4 villains and the ass-backward introduction to Gwen Stacy I’m a tad leery of Mr. Raimi now. I guess it goes hand-in-hand with the source material to the film. Most films that I get a chubby for are the ones I had a fan following for when I was younger. Like it’s in my genetic make-up. I grew up a Star Wars, Comic book, video game fan of the early 80s – mid 90s. I will see any comic book adapted film even if I wasn’t a fan of that particular book. I’ll see Ghost Rider; never read a Ghost Rider comic in my life, but this renaissance of decent to great Comic Book films gets me at least into the theatre. So when Raimi puts in Gwen Stacy after Mary Jane, I question it. I’ll still see the film no matter what but I also don’t mind spoiling the plot for myself. I’m that jaded I guess.
I’ve rambled enough and I think you got my point but I’ll answer one other question that you asked. What I consider a spoiler varies depending on what’s being brought to light on a particular film. A casting decision isn’t a spoiler to me really at all. I can’t recall ever reading that what’s-his/her-name and saying damn I wish I didn’t know that right now. Costumes brings up a good question, I guess. I must admit that seeing the black Spiderman costume let me down a bit. But after reading that it just took the shape of the regular blue and red it made sense to me. But my familiarity and fandom of the original black design was compromised. (You win again Mr. Raimi! [although I did really like the organic webbing]) But, to me, since I knew Venom was going to be in the flick I knew there was going to be a black suit and seeing it doesn’t spoil anything for me. But after I learn where the symbiote comes from will be a spoiler but not in the ‘aw shucks’ kind of way b/c I’m already thinking about my own theories as where and how it comes into play. I really don’t read the scripts for upcoming films, that to me is the biggest spoiler. Plus, I know enough of filmmaking to know that just b/c something is written in the script or screenplay doesn’t always equal on the screen. I also don’t read the screenplays b/c I just don’t have the time. But I’ll read a critique of a screenplay. I believe I did that for X3 b/c, well, my distrust of Ratner and Fox. [the film was a let-down but not half as bad I expected.]
All-in-all the greatest spoiler is the trailer of the film. They give away enough of the film to truly spoil it for a theatre goer. Especially online trailers where one can simply play it in slow-motion to get the most of the info. When the teaser of Spiderman 3 premiered a few weeks back I frame-by-framed it to check out things since the editing was so quick. I now know that Harry, as the goblin, ditched the ridiculous helmet for a bandana-style mask or something. Anyway it doesn’t look like the helmet. Is that a spoiler? Not really b/c now I’m a tad satisfied by that decision to drop the helmet I didn’t like the first time around. These little things get me more excited and pepped up to see the film. So in conclusion, spoilers [sometimes] assist me in the actual decision to pay top dollar for a film if I was on the fence already. For the geek/fan films they do nothing but pep me up more or brace me for disappointment.
Thanks for letting me ramble. I look forward to letting you spoil me in the future and I hope I contributed to CHUD this one time. I hope I can do it again.
Devin replies: The trailers really are amazing when it comes to spoilers, but to be honest not much has changed. Look at the trailers included on the DVDs for old films – giving away the endings of movies is a time-honored trailer tradition. I will tell you that the last shots of a movie I recently saw early are in the trailer for that film and I had to wonder why on Earth they would show that scene. It’s doubly weird because studios can be so anal about early images leaking, like the shot of Optimus Prime as a truck that AICN ran. I mean, it’s a fucking truck picture. Whoop de shit, and yet
Dan shouts: Devin: I just read your article on spoilers, and had a few comments. First of all, great article. And, I don’t mean that in an “I’m stroking you” kind of way….spoilers are something that I personally TRY to avoid, but some websites (I am looking at you Harry) make it difficult. I do respect that certain web journalists want to divulge something that they are excited about, but I respect the journalist a lot more when they put the “SPOILER ALERT” tab in advance of the information, or hide the text.
I was upset recently by finding out that the kid was Superman’s. Every online article about the movie made such a big deal out of how long Superman was gone, and how old the kid was that you’d have to be an idiot not to have figured it out even if the article didn’t come right out and say it. (Which most did.) To me, that could have been the big surprise of the film…IF you were allowed to go into the movie not knowing exactly that information. Without that, the kid throwing the piano would have been a “wow” moment.
I don’t think that casting, or costume shots are big spoilers unless the filmmaker is going a radically different direction than past incarnations of a character. Even then, photos don’t always do the costumes and make up justice, and most people know that the filters and lighting can make a big difference in how those things look on film. (After all, if a sunset looked like it does in a Bruckheimer film, then we’d all be walking around with crooked necks.)
Plot points can be spoilers, for sure. But, the studios are doing a pretty good job of spoiling those with their own press releases. And, let’s face it: Right now with all the remakes, what’s there to spoil? But, in the case of an original project, I think that I’d rather get the “back cover of the book” version of the plot. Broad strokes that will catch my attention are fine……telling me who the killer’s identity is not.
I think that spoilers are something that we the readers just have to live with, and if we don’t want to be spoiled, then we should be leery of visiting a lot of entertainment websites. Script reviews are the worst. I am glad that you didn’t post Pirates 3, because of exactly what you said in the article: It was an early version. What if someone decided not to go to the movie based on what they read, and missed a really great movie? That’d be a shame.
I guess my point is that I prefer it when the spoilers are light, and not when they are heavy.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. CHUD is one of my daily stops, and I love the style of writing. The headlines you guys come up with are genius.
Devin replies: You know, on the Superman’s kid thing – I had that spoiled for me as well, but I don’t think the film goes out of its way to keep that a secret. It seems wildly obvious from a very early point in the film.
Thanks for the kind words on the headlines. Here’s a secret – I have skipped running news stories in the past because I couldn’t come up with a headline that made me laugh.