Is There Too Much Secrecy Surrounding ‘Star Wars The Force Awakens?

By September 7, 2015
Star Wars The Force Awakens

No matter where you stand on the concept of spoiler culture, whether you want to know everything or nothing at all, one thing is for sure: the internet is here to stay. Moreover, no matter the lengths a filmmaker may take, in the end, and because of the simplicity one has access to in the age of social media and technology, leaks will happen and movies can and will be spoiled. It’s the way of the (brave) new world. But for Anthony Daniels AKA ‘Threepio’ (C3PO), it’s just ‘a movie’ and the secretive act Disney and Lucasfilm are playing with is more apropos to the Kremlin.

Let’s back up.

The Guardian recently caught up with with Anthony Daniels, one of the only actors to be in all seven ‘Star Wars’ movies, and an interesting set of statements came to light. Also, to clarify, in no way am I coming down on the protocol droid–er, actor. He’s the heart and soul of the Star Wars Universe in my mind; one of their great ambassadors for the cause. Mr. Daniels is always game to talk Star Wars. But maybe, just maybe… For this Episode (The Force Awakens) maybe the lengths JJ, Disney and Lucasfilm went to to keep everything under wraps got to him?  

I said that I’d met so-and-so. An actor who plays a … thing in the film. A character. Immediately I received a message from Disney: ‘Remove the tweet! You’re not allowed to say that!’ Honestly. It’s a kind of Kremlin attitude. Look, I know perfectly well not to tell you now what I’m giving you for a Christmas present because it would spoil the surprise. And these films are all about opening the box on Christmas Day.

Though Mr. Daniels appears frustrated, what with comparing the secrecy of Star Wars to the ‘fortress’ inside the Russian Government; he also ‘gets it.’ Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens is like a Christmas present, made all the more relative seeing as it’s coming out December 18th, an early present as it were. He knows it’s not something you want to ruin. But his point does raise some questions for a lot of the fans out there, including me. Is too much secrecy a bad thing? I’m reminded of a quote from Kathleen Kennedy herself (President of Lucasfilm) who gave an interview to Screen Slam, very close to the start of filming the movie. The question posed came about due to many fans thinking that JJ Abrams, king of the self imposed ‘mystery box’ way of movie-making, was going to keep everything under lock and key. She said,

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.”    

The idea of “embracing” the fans in the Star Wars community and giving them something to chew on or discuss, I think, is a great way to handle the new movies and the new medium in which information is shared. This is the world we live in now. The outdoor shoots and use of practical effects and sets are ripe for the amateur photographer. While Mr. Daniels is commenting on the level of secrecy taken by the filmmakers in regards to the story, looks like Kathleen Kennedy was almost ready for the leaked set photos. Because there were a lot of photos taken. Leaked images of concept art, outdoor sets, costumed extras and behind the scenes actors in costume made it’s way to the internet almost every week since the start of filming.


The charming use of a faux propaganda war poster, said to be hung up by JJ in the production offices of The Force Awakens, says a lot about the leaked production pictures and concept art. I remember seeing them and quickly jumping from the site who posted (or from Facebook and Twitter) as I didn’t want to be spoiled.

And therein lies the intrinsic point – is Disney being TOO secretive? As of now there isn’t a lot to spoil as far as plot goes. That’s not to say there hasn’t been exclusives all over the blogosphere. I am not counting those as ‘official’ as we don’t know if the story detail are correct or not. And this isn’t an article about spoilers and exclusives. The point, really, is about Disney’s marketing campaign. Because Anthony Daniels really voiced the main issue some fans are feeling as well.

As of this posting there isn’t a single morsel of plot officially dropped by the powers that be. Instead, we’ve gotten two teasers and an Instagram post. We also have an official poster, a snippet from D23:



Personally, I think there will be more to this poster. I do believe Drew Struzan has another version that will be hanging on the theaters wall closer to December.

The biggest ‘spoiler’ has to be the likeness of John Boyega’s ‘Finn’ brandishing a lightsaber. The Instagram tease also confirmed it as well.

And aside from the Topps images released during the massive Force Friday celebration, we really don’t have a lot to go off of. And I am totally okay with that. It’s a personal preference of mine; I would like to know very little going into the movie come December 18th.

But, what happens when one of the actors mentions/tweets, off hand, “An actor who plays a … thing in the film. A character” to the world? As Anthony Daniels mentioned, we know what happens. An immediate call from Disney to remove the tweet and/or to ‘shut up.’ Not to make too fine a point about it.

I don’t remember the character Anthony Daniels alluded to so I wasn’t spoiled in regards to this particular example. What Anthony Daniels is speaking on, and seems so surprised about, is Disney’s immediacy of removing any and all information that is going out to the world. I suppose I can understand. Based on the marketing up until this point, Disney and Lucasfilm seem to have a definite plan. And so far, it’s worked (for me).

I am enjoying not knowing the entire story so far. I am happy to be unaware of where Luke Skywalker is in all this. Like I said, it feels like it’s a carefully laid out plan by the studio.

On the other side of the coin, and the point I believe Anthony Daniels is making… it’s too much. It’s no big deal and why all the sanctions? Why can’t he mention “An actor who plays a … thing in the film.,”? The fans would eat that up. As they would a snapped shot of Luke Skywalker in costume. (Editors note: A leaked image of Luke Skywalker DID come out but was immediately removed by Disney).

Anthony Daniels seems to be over this kind of level of secrecy and I know for a fact, so are the fans. In my travels as a editor of a website and a host of a movie news podcast, I am inundated with fans wanting to know more. They want to see Luke in the ‘next trailer.’ They want to know who Andy Serkis is playing. They want to know the plot.

The list goes on and on.

But that’s what the powers that be want. They don’t want you to know any detail until they decide. And it’s a fascinating marketing strategy. I truly believe there’s a reason why Luke is mysteriously absent from all the marketing. Perhaps it has to do with a major story beat in the movie? If that is the case then I appreciate not knowing. But that’s just me.

At the end of the day, the answer to the question: is Disney being too secretive with Star Wars, is completely subjective. I personally don’t think so. But Anthony Daniels seems to disagree, as illustrated by the final quote from the interview:

When I got the script, it was typed in black on paper of the deepest red so you couldn’t photocopy it. I got a hangover just reading it. For heaven’s sake, it’s a movie!

I believe he’s speaking for a lot of the fans out there. Then again, he’s not really a fan. He’s an intricate part of the entire saga and probably too close to the project. After all, he knows everything, doesn’t he?

As for Disney and their secretive measure, there is, really, no answer. It comes down to a simple point of view and, basically, left up to you.

However, I can’t help but notice all the security measures in place; the lack of story and presence of Andy Serkis character images and/or Luke Skywalker. Strangely enough, it really seems like Disney doesn’t want you to know…

Could it be because they want you to have the experience of finding out inside the darkness of a movie theatre? Do they, dare I say it, want you to be surprised?

What a novel idea.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is set to be released on December 18th.

Make sure you keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.

Mark Reilly
Born a geek a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away - Tustin, CA - Reilly is a seasoned writer and producer with over twenty years experience in the film industry. He is the co-host of 'Far, Far Away' here on GeekNation as well as 'Meet the Movie Press' on the Popcorn Talk Network; which airs live every Friday morning at 9am pst. Tweet him at @Reillyaround
  • Mark Reilly

    Would love to hear everybody’s thoughts.

  • David Johnson

    I’m not a huge Star Wars Fan, only movie I thought was excellent was the Original. But with JJ helming this project I’m expecting the memories of the last 3 to disappear from My memories (Or would that be nightmares!). The secrecy doesn’t bother Me because I want to go into the theater with the Anticipation of a child on Christmas Morning!!!!

    • Mark Reilly

      That’s what I want as well!

  • Erin Parisien

    Yes and no… because, like Daniels said, it’s only a movie. Do there need to be sanctions and gag-orders and the like placed on the information? No, because it’s a movie! That being said, I actually don’t want to know, because I do want to be in awe when I see it in the theatre. With today’s spoiler culture, it’s damned near impossible (I tried to avoid the 10 second Instagram teaser but was spoiled by screenshots when I logged onto Facebook, and in that particular instance, I absolutely consider it a spoiler because it was completely about context!) so I understand why the studio would be cautious about what they allow to be released. Ultimately, if it gets spoiled for me, it does. It’s not like in the grand scheme of things it’s going to diminish my enjoyment at seeing a new freakin’ Star Wars movie.

  • David

    I think some of the secrecy is warranted, and some of it is clearly ridiculous. What I really wish is that they (Disney) would employ some common sense.

    Should the script be under the tightest lock and key? Absolutely. That’s a given.

    Does it make sense to put out a ‘cease and desist’ for leaked photos of an aging Luke Skywalker in his Jedi garb? Of course not. Everybody knows Mark Hammil is in this movie. Everybody already has a pretty good idea of what he’s going to look like. He will undoubtedly be featured in some of the teasers as we get closer to the release date, and I’m sure there’ll be toys of his likeness well before then, too.

    So was that photo really a spoiler? No. Will seeing that photo somehow make someone not want to see the film? No. Plus, once a photo is out there, it’s out there for good. So why bother getting all crazy over it? If anything, what Disney should have done is release a high quality pic from the same photo shoot, and say “forget that grainy pic with the watermark from that crappy blog – here’s the real deal!”