The one thing I’m desperately trying to do this week is avoid finding out what happens in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Unlike many Star Wars fans, I have covered all the trailers and TV ads, and I have read most interviews, which means I did stumble on a few spoilers. To make matters worse, I’ve gone through every major The Force Awakens review, worried with each paragraph I read that there’s a spoiler waiting for me.
But that didn’t happen. The reviews do contain some small spoilers that you can probably even figure out yourself from the trailers (see a review roundup at this link), but they don’t tell you what really happens in the movie. And that’s not a happy accident; movie critics have not colluded to keep the plot of The Force Awakens well under wraps while praising the new Star Wars episode. It’s all part of Disney monstrous – and successful, I might add – campaign to keep everything a secret and avoiding major The Force Awakens spoilers.
The campaign’s success is especially surprising considering the speed at which information travels in this digital age, and we’ll tell you how it all came together.
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A detailed report from Business Insider reveals the great effort Disney put into maintaining the secrecy surrounding the seventh episode of Star Wars.
For the Monday preview screening, Disney came up with strict rules for the media. All phones had to be surrendered, digital devices were to be left at home, and nobody was allowed to post anything on social media informing people about the location of the screening. Reviews were to be held until 12:01 a.m. PST on Wednesday – which explains today’s avalanche of Star Wars reviews.
But these measures only apply to the press. Disney took additional measures to prevent spoilers from leaking out.
For starters, all the stars involved in the movie, from director J.J. Abrams to Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and the new guys, were not allowed to say anything about what happens in the film. Hamill wasn’t even able to comment on Luke’s fate in the interviews he’s been doing over the past few months.
Furthermore, the script of the movie was printed on dark red paper. That way, if photocopied, the copies would be illegible.
Disney also decided to wait to release the movie tie-in book until January. The Wall Street Journal notes that publishers usually release movie tie-ins two months before a film’s release, but The Force Awakens book won’t hit stores until January 5th, 2016.
Similarly, the soundtrack was not released before the movie. The new score will be available starting on the same day as the film’s release, so you’ll have to wait a while to hear John Williams’s new music for the saga.
Finally, Disney did also made sure some Star Wars toys weren’t released before the movie. Retail stores are filled with The Force Awakens merchandise, but Hasbro told Business Insider that there are other toys set to release after the film. Only a few days ago, we learned that a toy was mistakenly released early in one store, and one employee bought it and posted photos online. Lucasfilm quickly took action and tried to remove the images from the Internet.