Is Playing a Guessing Game on New J.J. Abrams' Projects Getting Old?
It was only a matter of time till we heard word on J.J. Abrams' next mystery-shrouded project and now that wait is over. Well, at least the wait for hearing about the project at all… now we get to play the waiting game for the actual film, a game that we've all become accustomed to by now from the director of Super 8, producer behind Cloverfield, and co-creator of Lost. Fan sites, forums, virals, and theories upon theories upon theories are soon to come. But for now, let's look at what we know. Paramount acquired a pitch from writer Billy Ray (Flightplan, State of Play) & J.J. Abrams being touted as a "mystery adventure." Read on!
Oh wait, there isn't more… that's it as far as the facts at this point (other than the idea came from both Ray and Abrams and it will be a joint venture with Bad Robot according to Deadline, where this news is from). We also know that this won't be the next Abrams' film, as he's already locked in for Star Trek 2, with pre-production now underway and a shoot set for this winter. He's also producing Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (out this December) along with Person of Interest and Alcatraz on the TV front.
So this news today begs the question, does this whole schtick from the "mystery box"-obsessed boy genius still have an effect on you or do you feel that what is often found to be in the box doesn't live up to the box itself? Rather, is the hype more exciting than the actual film?
Personally, I'm not so sure just yet, but I can see it waning if the films themselves don't measure up to the marketing surrounding the release. I was a fan of Super 8 and a big one at that but I'll also be the first to admit that it had its glaring problems and inconsistencies. And above all, it didn't necessarily deliver when it came to what it was sold to be. And as I look back at both Cloverfield and the series finale of Lost, I remember my former self sharing the similar feelings of my current self. Abrams' has a true gift in the Internet age for keeping his films under the sheet until he's ready to yank it off to unveil what's underneath and, for the most part talents aside, it is what has built him up as this generation's Spielberg… or at least the closest thing we have to one.
But that same gifting may be his ultimate curse, as it's natural human tendency for us to fill in the blanks in our own minds on what to expect. Expectations that are typically far greater than what can be met by a film when it's marketed to us in this way. We love a magic trick but when we see how that magic trick is done, it's not so magical anymore. So if what we get from Abrams is a big pretty box with a giant question mark on it, with another box found to be inside another box and another box and another, I can imagine a lot of people not wanting to go to that party anymore. Consider it a cousin to the classic "the book is always better than the movie" syndrome. Side: You have similar filmmakers like Nolan who use similar yet not the same tactics, however with Nolan, his films tend to exceed expectations with audiences and so the device resets. Yet, that's another editorial all together.
So, again the question remains, every time J.J. Abrams decides that he's going to make a movie and not let anyone know what it's about until the reels are rolling, it makes me wonder if we'll collectively be just as excited one after another… or will this gimmick eventually wear off? Sure, there will always be a group of devout Abrams adherents… but will they always be the masses?
It seems to still be working at this point, with most major sites jumping on the aforementioned "news", which is essentially nothing more than, "Hey, these two guys are working together on something that will come out in the future and will have a Paramount logo play in front of it." I'm sure we can expect news story after news story to follow, whenever there is some sort of advancement in the production, no matter how significant or insignificant. And looking at the numbers, Super 8 did well for the most part, as it's Certified Fresh with 81% on the Tomatometer with a close 78% from the audience. As for how it did at the box office, that's hard to accurately say, as many have claimed that the film's price tag of $50 million is more than generously below the final bill (for the record it has made $127M domestically and $258M worldwide so far) but we can assume it did well enough to keep people coming back for more with this next one. For now.
So, the answer to this question remains a mystery itself… but it's the question that matters and deserves to be asked. For now, all we're left with is "Untitled J.J. Abrams/Billy Ray Adventure Project" and another big box on our figurative doorsteps. I hope for Abrams sake and ours that, when it's opened, we like what's inside more than just the pretty wrapping paper. Let the discussion begin! What do you think?