Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams wants fans to know that he takes spoilers seriously, and that he’s not trying to be clever or mean when he goes to great lengths to keep plot points secret.
Speaking earlier today at the Television Critics Association, Abrams was asked about the decision to keep the identity Benedict Cumberbatch’s villain under wraps throughout the film’s production.
“I just can’t wait for people to see the movie,” said Abrams, who actually screened a rough cut of the film for a fan last week, who passed away days later. “Benedict is unbelievable. It’s a tall order, coming into that movie, because the crew of the Enterprise – that cast – is so damn good and they’re wonderful to work with and they’re all good hearts. So, to come into that group, as he did, as Alice Eve did and as Peter Weller did, and be one of the family was something that I was doubtful could happen. And he completely did it. I not only love him in the movie, but I love him, as a human being. He’s an amazing guy. I can’t wait for people to see the movie and experience what he’s done.”
He added that it’s not fun for him to play the game of trying to keep information from the fans and the press. “It’s only fun to keep things quiet when it finally comes out as scheduled. Then, you feel like, ‘Oh, I didn’t just spend six months ruining the movie for people.’ It’s not fun during the experience of withholding because then you sound like a coy bastard and you’re being a jerk. But, what it really is about is making sure that, when you go to the movies or watch the show when it airs, you didn’t read the synopsis that came out of my fat mouth because I was answering a question that I was grateful anyone would even ask. I’d rather people experience it and learn what happens than be told what happens, and see it and have it confirmed. “
That’s a common problem now, of course, when rumor sites are forever leaking things the minute a test screening lets out; the big reveal of Thanos at the end of The Avengers was out before the movie ever hit theaters, and the entire plot of The Walking Dead’s midseason finale last month was similarly spoiled online five days before it aired.
“Honestly, for the people who are at Bad Robot and the people who we work with, I will sit in a meeting before a movie with 80-some people, who are head of departments, and literally say, ‘All I ask is that, in all the work that we are doing, we preserve the experience for the viewer.’ Every choice we make, every costume fitting, every pad of make-up that’s put on, every set that’s built all becomes less magical, if it is discussed and revealed, and if pictures are posted online. I just want to make sure that, when someone sees something in the movie, they didn’t just watch the 60-minute behind-the-scenes that came out two months before the movie came out. Why do I want to see how they did something I don’t even understand yet? Let me experience it, so at least I know what the movie is and can have the opportunity to get sucked into the experience and feel like, ‘Oh, my god, that world is real, that ship is real, that battle is real.’ If I’m watching it, and I’ve just seen how ILM, or whatever visual effects company made that thing look real, you’re ruining it before it even exists. And everyone seems to respect that and respond to that. It’s not like there are threats. It’s not like we’re begging them, every day. We just say up front, ‘All the work we’re doing is really about making this a special experience for the viewer. Let’s preserve that, as long as we can.’”
He also addressed the question of 3-D, which he was openly not a big fan of prior to making Star Trek Into Darkness, and how his trademark lens flares play on the format.
“It’s a far bigger movie [than Star Trek was],” Abrams said. “What I’m still grappling with and learning how to do is to be looking and thinking cinematically, having come from television. A lot of that is about keeping all that stuff in frame and understanding composition. There were things I wish I had done on the first movie, that I got a chance to do this time. There were shots I wished I’d gotten, that I never got a chance to get, so it was fun to get that chance this time. But, there are no gimmicky things that I’m aware of, that I’m imposing or forcing down an audience’s throat.”