Recently an article published on Slashfilm exposed the fact that actor David Prowse spoiled the ending of The Empire Strikes Back two years before the release of the film. In 1978, Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original trilogy, told a local Berkeley, California newspaper the twist ending to the then highly anticipated film. The reveal in question is now regarded as one of the biggest twists in movie history. Strangely enough, the fact Prowes revealed this information to the newspaper made no difference. At the time no one other then the small Berkeley newspaper ran that story. This twist went no further then the readers of that paper.
If this slip happened today, the ending to one of the most beloved films of all time would have been known to millions within hours, if not minutes. Just as the internet has changed how the world functions, it has changed film and the film community forever. Blogging, Twitter, Digg, Facebook and the dozens of other social media sites available have created a whole new community for films fans, and marketing teams alike.
Almost as long as the internet has been in existence so have internet movie sites, with blogs such as AintItCool and Slashfilm becoming the primary film news source for millions of film fans. Film studios now have the opportunity to create buzz for projects years in advance of the actual release. With images, teasers and full trailers spreading across the internet like wildfire, studios and their marketing teams can generate free publicity and have their work done for them by the legions of fans online. As much as the internet, and the online community is a great opportunity for marketing, it also has huge negatives to the studios.
Often, keeping information offline is more important than releasing information. Early pictures, reviews and rumours can damage a film’s buzz and reputation months before its release. As information spreads so quickly online, containing leaked information, not to mention stopping it in the first place is becoming increasingly difficult.
As film studios attempt to create and sustain buzz for their upcoming projects, over hyping and over exposure is an issue not often considered by marketing teams. It is no longer uncommon to enter a theatre feeling as if you have already seen the film. Disney’s latest blockbuster attempt, Tron: Legacy, is a perfect example of over-hyping. With heavy marketing beginning over two years ago, film fans had been so bombarded with teasers, trailers and clips that there was no longer any point seeing the film.
Having grown up always having these sites as a reality, it makes it difficult to picture a time when blogs and IMDB didn’t exist. Previously the film community was largely made up of those in the smoky cinemas of Paris, now all it takes to join is the two minutes to sign up on Twitter. These sites allow for anyone to interact with each other, no matter physical distance. It is not only an opportunity to discuss film but also to learn and discover as well.
While my love for film would still exist, it is possible that without the internet my obsession with film and need to become a filmmaker would not. Just as I am sure this is the case with many other film geeks, the online communities have allowed me to discover many of my favourite filmmakers and films that would have been near impossible to find before. While being a film geek in the age of the internet certainly has some minor downfalls, the immense community of film fans wanting to discuss film outweighs any negative aspect.