What Race 3, Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Game of Thrones have in common: How they tackle spoilers
Shooting alternate endings, deceptive trailers and planting rumours are the tricks filmmakers are resorting to in order to avoid leaks and spoilers.
During the promotions of Avengers: Infinity War, when the Russo brothers were asked how they manage to keep spoilers at bay given the sheer size of their ensemble, they had only one word to offer — misinformation.
That is the tool thrillers and high-stakes superhero films and shows are employing in order to retain the air of suspense that catapulted them into the successful franchises they are today. Playing the deception card, however, comes with its share of costs as well as truckloads of creativity at both the scripting and the marketing level.
Here are three primary tricks that films and shows have used in the recent past to avoid leaks and spoilers.
Shooting alternate endings
While this has been an age old technique, it has found more takers in the recent past owing to preemptive strikes that binge watchers deliver post the onset of the streaming service era. Most recently, it was reported that even Remo D'Souza has shot multiple endings to protect the 'big twist' in the climax of his upcoming thriller Race 3. Race has always been an edge-of-the-seat entertainer infamous for leveling the audience with a big blow towards the end. With an entire new cast and storyline in place, it is all the more important for the makers to retain the surprise element of the Salman Khan-starrer.
Race 3 makers may have probably taken a cue from the makers of Game of Thrones.
At the 71st Cannes Film Festival, one of the key actors of the HBO show, Emilia Clarke, revealed that they are shooting alternate endings of the final season to prevent leaks or spoilers. The show faced major losses during season 7 when not only the entire episodes (thanks to rampant piracy) but also stills and video footage from the sets and pictures of the script leaked before the show even went on air. The makers have taken strict measures to sidestep these issues in season 8 and hence are taking abnormally longer to wrap up the shoot.
The longer the wait, the more the anticipation. But with anticipation, comes the irresistible will to resort to unethical means of sourcing information about the show. The makers have thus reportedly not provided the ensemble cast with bound script. In fact, they are going the Johnny Depp way and feeding the script to the cast members, one dialogue at a time.
They have probably taken a page out of Marvel's book.
In its latest superhero bonanza, Infinity War, access to the 'actual' script was given only to a core group of less than 10 members. They included the director duo, the writers and a couple of Marvel representatives but no actors. Though Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Doctor Strange in the film, insisted on a script since he is a staunch English actor, he did not know whether the script he read is the final one.
This secrecy, that extended from the crew and the audience to even the cast members, eventually worked in their favour. Since the first film ended with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger, the actors looked as disoriented and confused as the audience. Their lack of knowledge about the subsequent events to unfold translated well into their performance. It allowed them to live the moment or scene at hand rather than playing by the books.
Last year, Abhay Chopra's whodunit Ittefaq also incorporated the technique of alternate endings and at the same time, seamlessly integrated both the climaxes into the script. He gave space to both the endings by depicting the accounts of both the suspects and kept the terminal ending only to a few. During a promotional event of the film, actress Sonakshi Sinha pointed out that though the actors can sign Non-Disclosure Agreements, the only way to bar the technical crew from giving away information is by misleading them through shooting alternate endings.
Trailers are deceptive
If everything shown in the trailers was true, The Incredible Hulk would be smashing his way to green glory in Infinity War.
But in the film, we saw a meek Bruce Banner requesting the big guy to surface but to no avail. In the trailer, we see a glimpse of The Hulk joining his fellow superheroes in marching towards their enemies in Wakanda. But in the film, the same shot has a Hulk-shaped Iron Man suit in place of The Hulk, with Banner in the driver's seat. Thus, the entire arc of The Hulk is saved for the film, not the trailer, probably since it is speculated to have major implications in Avengers 4.
Similarly, the trailers of Deadpool 2 were edited in a way so as to give the audience an impression that X-Force is a crucial part of the David Leitch directorial. But those who have seen the Ryan Reynolds-starrer, know that most of the X-Force members have what can be best called cameos.
The grapevine is the most commonly accepted unethical mode of releasing misinformation. In Bollywood, rumours are mostly injected by PRs to increase buzz around a film. Conjecture around affairs of lead actors is the most done-to-death tactic to get the audience to theatres for a romantic film. But spreading misinformation has been used creatively in Bollywood too.
Six years ago, during the release of Reema Kagti's Talaash: The Answer Lies Within, an illusory film by itself, the makers 'leaked' the ending of the film. The one-line spoiler, however, was so intriguing that the audience rushed to the theatres in order to witness how the plot would unravel towards that termination. To their surprise, the planted spoiler did not turn out to be true.
"Rani Mukerji is the murderer," said the one-line WhatsApp forward, taking this writer on a mind-numbing journey of how Kagti could weave a story around a homemaker killing her own son, only to play the victim. Was she under influence or does she put forward a delusive front to mask her guilt? I went to the theatre on the first day to seek these answers only to return pleasantly surprised by a completely different storyline and ending.
This decoy was also implemented in Infinity War, the mother of all suspense dramas. The news, of four primary Avengers, Hulk (Banner), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Captain America (Chris Evans) exiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was circulated; prompting the fans to speculate about their impending deaths in Infinity War. But as Marvel wished it, they happened to be in the luckier half.
And so, I urge you to not believe what you read, see or hear. Unless, obviously, you want the cinema geek within to take a backseat, and let the movie fan take over with their unwary indulgence and willing suspension of disbelief.
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