Should J.J. Abrams Put ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ In His Mystery Box?

By  · Published on April 27th, 2013

During the production of 2008’s Star Trek, director J.J. Abrams was quite determined to keep as much information about the film from the public as possible. This included tactics on set such as putting actors under blankets to hide their costumes, additional security on set and limiting (until the last moment) how much information was distributed to the press. He loves this game, as evidence by the even more secretive Cloverfield project and his extensive talk about his mystery box. He enjoys the fun of not knowing everything that’s going to happen next. As a longtime Star Trek fan, I found myself alright with his stance. Even though knowing a great deal about the film would fulfill some part of my devilish curiosity, the moments of discovery that occurred during that fateful first screening of Star Trek in 2008 were more than worth the wait.

In that case – as it has many times – J.J. Abrams’ mystery machine worked. So now that he’s signed on to bring Star Wars back to life for new owner Disney, will Abrams toy with Wars fans as he did his Trekker brethren? And would you want him to play things close to the chest? This is the subject of this weekend’s big discussion.

The short answer on secrecy seems to be ‘no.’ In an interview with Star Wars producer and new director of all things creative Kathleen Kennedy, ScreenSlam found out that she’s open to embracing the insatiable appetites of the Internet generation:

“We talk about that all the time. I think the whole issue of confidentiality is gonna be fascinating as we move into making the movie. If we’re shooting anything outside, it’s almost impossible to not have things end up on the Internet. So my feeling is, you need to embrace that, especially with the fans around something like Star Wars. You need to recognize they’re important to the process and acknowledge there are things you’re gonna want to make sure they get to know. So I think that’s something we’re going to monitor, pay attention to and think differently about.”

This concept, of course, is counter to the path Abrams has paved for himself up to this point, but he is playing in a different arena here. Disney – whose subordinate Marvel has been relatively open with their productions – has a track record of being very in-control of its marketing from day one of pre-production. For better or worse, this is how House Mouse plays the game. And Kennedy is Head Honcho on Star Wars. So Abrams might not get much choice in the matter.

The big question: would you want him to?

As I mentioned, Star Trek worked out fine. Cloverfield was full of fun surprises and its viral marketing campaign, in hindsight, was a blast to cover. Even Lost found great success in its secrets (just not so much its payoff). The Abrams formula for keeping secrets is by no means a bad one. Would it work for Star Wars? That’s for you philosophers to discuss in the comments below.

Artwork for this article by Josh Lang.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)