How J.J. Abrams Altered Star Trek Into Darkness To Hide Its Secrets

By Nick Venable 2013-05-20 13:32:16discussion comments
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Now that the weekend is over, weíre able to fully gauge just how many people were excited to see J.J. Abramsí Star Trek Into Darkness on its first weekend. It turns out that it was a lot of people, though not quite as many as some analysts were predicting. Itís too bad itís impossible to get an exact count on how many people were drawn in by the filmís advertising campaign. I canít assume a large number of people went based on Abramsí trademark secrecy, which didnít quite work for this film the way it did with Super 8. Even so, the filmís secrets are obviously still relevant the week after the sequelís release, and this is when you should stop reading if you havenít seen the film. Iíll even put a pretty picture in the way so you can click off of the page without seeing anything.

SlashFilm has brought to light a big switcheroo that Abrams & Co. performed during a footage screening shown to journalists at Bad Robot in December of last year. This is where the name John Harrison originated for Benedict Cumberbatchís villain. And as you probably know by now, Cumberbatchís character name only rhymes with John. (Itís Khan.)

The sequence showed the second act space jump in the footage, and on two separate occasions - once spoken and once shown on a monitor - the name John Harrison was used. Fans spent the next few months debating over the bullshit factor behind that name, and we now know that bits from that scene were fabricated specifically for the preview screening. While this is pretty smooth and clever marketing, it still didnít fool that many people, and again, was used in a film where secrecy wasnít going to draw in hordes of viewers. The switch is explained by producer Bryan Burk as being necessary so that viewers werenít ahead of the characters as far as prior knowledge goes. Fair game. Still, horror films should get in on this technique. Letís hear an explanation from one of the horsesí mouths.

ďBryan Burk was the one who first proposed that we use the space jump sequence as a way of getting folks excited for the movie,Ē explains co-writer Damon Lindelof. ďThe challenge was obvious [because] this is after the reveal. Therefore, J.J. and post production supervisor Ben Rosenblatt executed a ďHarrison CutĒ to preserve the secret. Iíd rather not get into the details of how this was accomplished; suffice to say it wasnít easy. It was, however, worth it.Ē

Maybe next time they shouldnít be so overt with the Khan hints and then all the actors wouldnít have had to explicitly lie about it. Somebody tell Brad Bird to let Lindelof know that Tomorrowland is a Brad Bird film, and that plot comes before secrecy.
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