There has not been a movie release surrounded by so much secrecy as “Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” That includes the opening of “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” back in 1999.
Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm and an executive producer on “The Force Awakens,” says all of the tight security is a way to makie sure every fan gets to experience the movie's surprises.
That makes sense. In this age of so much social media, every detail of the latest film in the franchise will be revealed the moment after the first screening for the public ends. You may want to stay off the Internet until you see the film.
Social media wasn’t as dominating in 1999 but even without that, there was very little concern about keeping the secrets of “The Phantom Menace.”
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I asked “Weird Al” Yankovic how he was able to write “The Saga Begins,” a parody song about “Phantom Menace” written to the tune of “American Pie,” with such detail before the movie opened. He said he got all his info off the Internet.
So why so much secrecy for “The Force Awakens”? Part of it is how important this movie is to the future of Disney. “Star Wars” could become their biggest franchise as long as the “Force” doesn’t crash and burn. So spoilers are dangerous.
The other reason is there is so much more to protect. Plot possibilities are endless for “The Force Awakens” because everything unfolds in the future of the "Star Wars"-verse.
Because “Phantom Menace” was a prequel, George Lucas was boxed in to how far he could go. Everyone knew who was going to become Darth Vader. There was no way Obi-Wan would die. The twins of Luke and Leia had to be born and separated.
There was very little room to create any surprises and so that trilogy suffered.
That won’t be the case with “The Force Awakens.” That’s why the security has been so tight.