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Brad Bird wishes that people would stop spoiling movies in advance by revealing plot twists & Easter Eggs

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Brad Bird wishes that people would stop spoiling movies in advance by revealing plot twists & Easter Eggs

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How's this for a holiday mish-mash: On July 4th, I'm posting a story about how Brad Bird wants movie goers to stop spoiling their Christmas presents by trying to find out where all of the Easter Eggs in new Pixar films are BEFORE they then head out to the theater to see these movies.

To explain: Late last month, I was out in Hollywood, covering the world premiere of "Brave." And as I'm standing at the edge of the press barricade, who comes strolling up the green carpet but the director of "The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille" and "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol."

Brad Bird at the June 18th world premiere of "Brave" in Hollywood.
Photo by Jim Hill

Mind you, Brad's not really there to do the celebrity interview thing. He's just there to be supportive of his fellow Pixarians. So I call Bird's name and he then comes over to talk to me. And I then tell Brad that I had really enjoyed a series of tweets that he'd made back on June 6th. Where this acclaimed filmmaker vented his growing frustration with people who just can't wait to blow key plot points and/or reveal where all of the Easter Eggs are hidden in soon-to-be-released motion pictures:

The Press: What are all the hidden surprises in your latest project, and where exactly are they hidden? Me: (exasperated sound)

@Pixar Times: Been wondering where they put A113 on#Brave. Why not WAIT TIL FILM HAS OPENED AND FIND OUT instead of asking?

"Rosebud ... "

When I mentioned the above tweets, Bird seemed eager to revisit this topic, talking about how it used to be that people didn't like to spoil surprises for other moviegoers. Which is why  -- out of courtesy for others who hadn't yet seen that film -- you didn't blurt out what Rosebud was in "Citizen Kane," or talk about the end of "The Usual Suspects." As recently as the 1999 release of "The Sixth Sense," people were still honoring this unsaid agreement with their fellow moviegoers. That you don't reveal major plot twists ahead of time, that you don't blow the ending for people who haven't yet seen that movie.

But with the rise of social media over the past 10 years, all of that has changed. Now our culture is seemingly obsessed with spoilers. We want to know everything that's going to happen in a movie well in advance, learn about every little surprise before we actually go to the theater, buy a ticket and then sit down to watch that movie. Worse than that, there's now this huge rush to be first. To be the one who then gets to claim credit for having spoiled that cinematic surprise for everyone else .

As a filmmaker, Brad just believes that this now all-too-common practice is wrong. He spoke with great passion about how he and his team work for months, years even on these motion pictures. Making sure that the stories that they're trying to tell unfolds in a particular way, that all of the plot twists & surprises get revealed in the precise order that the production team originally intended. And to now have people using social media as a way to blow those surprises well in advance for potential audience members who haven't yet seen these movies ... Well, as Bird put it when we talked:

Brad Bird chats with the press at last month's world premiere
of "Brave" at Hollywood's newly renamed Dolby Theatre.
Photo by Jim Hill

That's just wrong. It's like peeking at your Christmas presents.

Look, I realize that social media is here to stay. This technology is now such a big part of our everyday lives. I just wish that people were more responsible with the information that they have access to, that they could be a little more respectful when it comes to other members of the audience.

Bird then talked about what was now going on at the studio level to help combat this issue. How -- in order to prevent key story points from being revealed well ahead of time on future productions -- filmmakers were now being forced to put safeguards in place. Throw would-be movie spoilers off the track, if you well.

Brad Bird on set with Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg during the production
of "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." Copyright 2011 Paramount Pictures.
All rights reserved

And since Brad brought up the topic, I then asked "So have you and Damon Lindelof already put some safeguards in place for that sci-fi project that you're supposed to be making for Disney. What's it called again? '1954'? "

" '1952, ' " Bird replied. Brad then smiled cryptically and made a point (as politely as possible, mind you) of not answering my question. He then shook my hand and continued on up "Brave" 's green carpet.

Again, I appreciate that Bird was willing to take a stand on this issue. But I have to wonder what Brad would make of a recent development. Which is that the Studios themselves are now getting involved with revealing where Easter Eggs in a particular motion picture are hidden.

Case in point: These images that Walt Disney Studios' publicity department released just yesterday, which show exactly where the Pizza Planet truck can be spotted in "Brave" ...

Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

... not to mention revealing that Sulley from "Monsters, Inc." has a quick blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo in this Pixar Animation Studios release.

Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

So how do you folks feel about the above images? Granted, "Brave" has been out in theaters for almost two weeks now. Which means that tens of millions of people worldwide have already seen this Mark Andrews / Brenda Chapman / Steve Purcell film. But what about all of the other people who have yet to get around to seeing this new animated feature? Does putting this info out there now kind of spoil some of the fun of seeing this film for those folks who have yet to purchase tickets for "Brave" ?

So what are your thoughts on this matter? Do you believe as Brad Bird does and that -- as a courtesy for your fellow filmgoers -- you shouldn't ever reveal plot twists in advance and/or reveal where Easter Eggs are hidden in a movie? Or are you the type who's just mad for movie spoilers? So the more, the better?

Your thoughts?

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  • I have no problem with knowing that the Pizza Planet truck and Sully are quickly shown in Brave since we know that the truck will be in each Pixar film and that the Monsters Inc. prequel will be the next film.  However, I totally agree with Brad Bird about spoiling movies, even classic films.  

    A number of years ago, the late Gene Siskel felt okay with giving away the twist in The Crying Game since it was out for several months.  And Roger Ebert, in his review of Brave, gave away the second half of the film.  I'm glad that I read his review after seeing the film, but that was unfair to those who would see it afterwards.  

    My grandkids have yet to see (except for the Wizard of Oz) most old films, so why should they know who Darth Vader really is or what Rosebud represents before seeing those pictures?  Just like with other things in life, we want to remember our first times.

  • I don't mind a spoiler of where the pizza planet truck is, although I went to the movie opening day and missed both so I was glad to have them pointed out. But the spoilers I don't like are the ones that are merchandise available well ahead of the film's release. I can understand having Merida costumes and plush bears, but what I didn't like seeing was the doll sets (or the big plush bear) because they gave away massive spoilers... (spoiler alert here) they have a set of the triplets that transform in to the bears, and a set of Elinor transforming. They also have the reversible triplet/bear cub plush. I work at the mall, 3 doors down from the Disney Store and these items are front and center. I actually had to avoid looking in my favorite store in the mall in order to not see massive spoilers of the overall plot

  • I don't care if people reveal Easter eggs that have nothing to do with the plot.

    What I hated specifically about Brave was walking through Target and seeing the toys that clearly show the main plot points that happen to some of the characters. That spoiled me.

  • Yeah, if the filmmakers want the fans to stop spoiling, they gotta stop letting spoilers happen in every trailer, every news article that comes out, every toy that gets made, they gotta make sure none of the actors mention anything major when they go on talk shows. It's a two-way street, we can't find out about it if they don't tell us.

  • I still remember that Citizen Kane was spoiled by a Peanuts comic strip for me. It is one of my few bad memories of Peanuts comic strips.  Mind you, it was many many years after the film, but I was still young and hadn't seen the movie :)

  • I'm always so swept up in the films that I rarely spot anything like that unless I know where and when to look. On the other hand, when I get home I LOVE being able to go online and find a comprehensive list of easter eggs to watch for next time!

  • I don't understand why Disney publicity released these images and spoiled it now.

    The Easter Egg reveals used to at least be held off till the DVD release.

  • I don't think he can criticize given Disney came out with the Brave children's book before the film came out.  A friend of my mine with a small girl asked if I knew the plot (Brave) and wanted to know what happened as he thought it might be too scary/weird for his daughter.  Oh, then he got the children's book for her and they knew what happened anyway.

    I know Pixar puts little hidden things in the films, but they are mostly for the diehard fans and for themselves, IMHO.  I don't have an emotional connection to A113, so I don't really get super excited if I see it.  Its nice reading about the little things Pixar puts in the films, kind of like movie trivia, but Bird doesn't need to get angry at folks who are addicted to these little secrets, just wink and tell them its a secret and its meant to be "discovered."

    He's a good director, Ratatouille is my favorite Pixar film, but I remember hearing he wasn't sure about putting the Pizza truck in Incredibles was a good idea, maybe this hidden stuff isn't for him.  After all Brave wasn't his film, Pixar does like putting in these things for fans, so he's sort of criticizing a movie he had nothing to do with and how Pixar does stuff.

    Is Brad Bird an "acclaimed" director??  Hasn't the guy just done like four films?  Spielberg, Cameron, . . . these are the "acclaimed" directors, we'll see if he can pull of 1906 or 1951 or whatever year he decides to make into a film.  If it flops, answering questions about easter eggs will be the least of his worries.

  • More on the "two-way street" angle: With a lot of animated movies, the studios will put whole sections of the movie out before the release. I had to swear myself off from watching those so I could go into the film as unspoiled as possible. Like others here, knowing about the little Easter eggs doesn't bug me, but major plot points should be kept under wraps as much as possible.

  • I can't get too upset about people revealing "hidden Mickey"-like details in movies or theme parks  -- I'm generally not going to make a real effort to find them anyway, and if I go looking for them, it'll be after I've experienced the movie or attraction a few times. But major plot points? That's just rude (in the case of people spoiling plot points on social media) or dumb (marketers or merchandisers spoiling them in trailers or in products).   Let people discover the plot twists on their own, folks - that's part of the "magic of the movies".

  • Barb, if he'd stopped at Iron Giant, he'd still be correctly described as "acclaimed".

    This is actually why I got out of the theme park spoiler business...I went on HMH not knowing what to expect and was so delighted and surprised that I decided to stop spoiling details of upcoming attractions then and there.  

    I do, however, want to know if there's going to be anything that will set me off (I don't do well with being startled).  

    I want to know that there's a new coaster that's like Big Thunder with bears going into HKDL; I don't want to watch video of it because I want to be surprised and delighted again.  That's fun.  

    And it's the same thing with movies.

  • If filmmakers don't want their plots ruined, maybe they should speak with marketing/merchandise. The merchandise for Brave made it no secret that Merida's mom and brothers get changed into bears. Tho, I'm not sure if knowing that going in helped or hindered my enjoyment as I still think it was a great film!

  • Do you think the bear pack-ins should have been held back for a later wave or packed as a secret element- like how some years back, Bratz had a "Mystery Date" assortment where the second doll was obscured?

  • I hate it when people spoil a film for everyone else. in 1983, the day of the opening of Star Wars Episode 6, Return of the Jedi, I was driving in my car to work listening to the radio when the local radio DJ came on and said with no warning whatsoever: "Well it turns out that Leia is Luke's sister. " I was SO mad at him that I almost wreaked my car. And am still upset about it almost 30 years later. Spoiled the entire film for me as there was no mystery left.

  • If he doesn't want spoilers revealed, don't give press passes to those who make a point of giving spoilers.  Also, give credit to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for The Incredibles.

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