Producer J.J. Abrams is being cagey about his new film, opening Jan. 18. A tantalizing trailer appeared in front of Transformers and got everyone talking, everyone except J.J. himself.
In fact, here is a list of things that are still a secret about this movie:
1.) What it's about.
2.) What it's called.
3.) Everything else.
Oh! But for fun, J.J.'s people have put secret little games on the Internet, where you can solve riddles and find tiny hints about the movie's content! And there are message boards everywhere: "Look at this clue I found!" "I heard a rumor about such-and-such!" "Here's a website for a fake corporation that figures into the plot!" The blogs are buzzing with whatever little tidbits they can find. It's like a treasure hunt! Fun! Ha ha!
J.J., as soon as you're ready to talk about your movie, I will be glad to listen. But until then? I don't care. I'm not gonna play your stupid games. You don't want to tell me anything about it? Then I don't want to see it. You can keep trying to "hype" your film by not saying anything, but it's not going to work. The effect of you not discussing it will be me not thinking about it.
Here's the way it works, J.J.: You put together a trailer, some TV commercials, a poster -- the usual promotional materials. Then we, as an audience, view those things. If they're good, we get excited about the movie. That's the arrangement. It's been established for decades. It's how we do things.
Hiding clues about the movie on the Internet and requiring people to play games to get answers is not acceptable. I don't even go to that much trouble to WATCH a movie. Why would I do it just to find out what it's about?
Of course, J.J.'s TV show Lost plays the same infuriating games, and look how well that's paid off: This year it lost a third of its viewers and was practically ignored at the Emmys. So yeah, J.J. is annoying, annoying like a fox!
And another thing: The film is going by the code name Cloverfield, which obviously is not its real title, since that title is lame. Are you with me here? J.J. Abrams wants us to go see his movie on Jan. 18, but he WON'T EVEN TELL US WHAT IT'S CALLED! Well, I have a long-standing policy of not watching movies that don't have titles. So far, I have never had to enforce it. So far, no one's been dumb enough to try to market a film that didn't have a name.
If I came up to you and said, "Hey, I'm making this movie, but I won't tell you what it's called or what it's about or anything else about it, but you should definitely go see it!" your response would be somewhere between ignoring me and punching me in the throat. And that response would be entirely justified, given what a jackass I was being.
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Eric D. Snider can't tell you why, but you should definitely visit his website.