A couple weeks ago I was excited to discover that a trailer for a secret J.J. Abrams project was going to be attached to Iron Man 2. I learned via Twitter after it was reported on movie-news websites like Slashfilm, FirstShowing.net, and Ain’t It Cool News. Heck, I got caught up in the excitement and even tweeted about the trailer myself.
It quickly became a certified Internet brouhaha. Exciting geek speculation flourished. The last time this kind of thing happened, it was the first trailer for Cloverfield — attached to Transformers in 2007 — another “secret” Abrams project for which little, if anything, was known about the film’s story line. Could this new project be a Cloverfield sequel?
It turned out that the rumor originated on the website Hitfix courtesy of Drew McWeeny, who wrote under the pseudonym “Moriarty” for over ten years at Ain’t It Cool News. McWeeny had discovered that prints of Iron Man 2 were being shipped to theaters in three canisters, with special instructions for the projectionist and a coded electronic lock on the third canister, which contained the first reel, the last reel, and all trailers. Included in the last reel of Iron Man 2 is the sequence that occurs after the end credits, which was shrouded in secrecy itself after the surprise appearance of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury at the very end of the first Iron Man.
But then I started to see the words “Super 8” appear in my Twitter stream — and that’s when I began to wish I hadn’t started following any of these rumors. If that was the film’s title, I kind of didn’t want to know. And if Super 8 referred to the home-movie format and somehow tied into more Cloverfield “found footage,” then I really didn’t want to know. Suddenly — for me, anyway — all the speculation suddenly stopped being fun.
Cue the old man in me, but I got to thinking that I miss the days when I’d go to a movie with a “surprise” secret trailer and actually be surprised by it. Back in my day (using that expression made me throw up in my mouth a little) there was no Internet, and therefore virtually no way to learn about these things beforehand. The only way to find out about stuff in advance was by reading magazines like Starlog and Cinefantastique — and who knows what their lead times were? But even if they had no lead time whatsoever, by the time you received the latest issue in the mail, the information contained within could be as much as (gasp) two or three days old! How did us ’80s film geeks ever get by?
I don’t know what the solution is. If I’m going to participate in social media outlets like Twitter, I’m going to see stuff that I don’t necessarily want to see. I’m certainly not going to un-“follow” any of the people I keep up with on various websites — I’m too interested in what they have to say. I guess I’ll just have to be more careful about how much attention I pay to some of their scoops. Last Sunday, when the Lost series finale aired, I pretty much stayed off the Internet all day; if something got leaked, I didn’t want to risk hearing about it.
But what about the idea of not reporting this kind of thing in the first place? Interestingly, Drew McWeeny considered that, according to a tweet he wrote on May 3, the day before he published his story: “I am genuinely tortured right now by something I know and am trying desperately NOT to print. Grrrrr… #secretstiemeinknots.”
The irony of ironies is that the theater where I saw Iron Man 2 didn’t run the Super 8 trailer. So after all that ranting I went straight to the Internet when I got home and dug up any scrap of information I could find, using the very websites I’d been complaining about. I found a version of the teaser trailer, shot by someone in a theater with a camcorder, and watched it at home, on my laptop, with headphones on.
It was, of course, an awesome trailer.
And it’s now officially online. It does just about everything a teaser trailer should do — it doesn’t spoil anything about the movie, yet it assures me beyond any reasonable doubt that my butt will be in the seat when Super 8 opens. Come to think of it, the art of the teaser trailer sounds like a good topic for another time. How’s that for a tease?
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