When Should Spoiler Embargoes End? 5 Things to Consider

Graphic by Dalan Overstreet

We are a few weeks into Summer, the official season of the Blockbuster. Ever since the release of Jaws back in 1975, Summer has been the time for studios to roll out their biggest projects. There’s a shared experience that comes with blockbusters, considering the audience these films usually command. This, unfortunately, makes them the most susceptible to spoilers.

If you’re like me, you truly hate having a movie’s twist or its ending dropped prematurely. The week before Avengers: Infinity War they may have literally been the bane of my existence. Everyone has their own understanding of when it’s permissible to freely discuss a film’s major plot points, but I have never heard any logic applied other than, “you had enough time”. Admittedly, I’ve been one of these people, until now. It is time to form a concrete spoiler embargo. First, there are a few things we must consider.

It’s Not First Weekend

I mean, obviously. Not everyone that wants to see a film will be able to see it in the first few days, or even know they want to (more on that later). Films usually make around 25% of their total gross during their first weekend, roughly 33% for large budget flicks. Even if you make the assumption all of these are first viewings, it is far from the entire audience that wants to see the film.

Honor the Pre-Sale

There is some variation here, but you have to respect people who bought their tickets early. Theses days people can realistically buy their tickets six or eight weeks in before release date. With some films you can buy pre-sale tickets for all first week showings, so this becomes a new line. Date of purchase should matter more than date of viewing. Even if a poor soul bought a Noon ticket for the following Thursday, it deserves to be respected if it was bought in advance.

Let Word of Mouth Prosper

Viva voce. The oldest and most pure form of Marketing, Word of Mouth seems to be a more viable tool than ever. Consumers are growing more cynical and less trusting of our institutions, including Advertising and Media. Film criticism is no exception. Many people dismiss movie reviews, electing to wait for that friend, or even that stranger on the internet, to chime in. Either way, people should be allowed to field opinions on a film before they decide whether or not to see it.

Conclusion: spoiler embargoes should last TWO WEEKS.

With this said, there are two harsh realities to accept.

Enough People Don’t Care

There are plenty of trash people online. Sadly, you can’t count on everyone to abide by the social contract. A large portion of Internet culture is concerned with garnishing a reaction. Some choose to do something impactful and worthwhile to gain attention, others do shit like spoil movies. I highly doubt anyone honors this embargo I’m laying out here, but some won’t even acknowledge the unspoken rules we have now. Sometimes it is best to assume the worst in people and plan accordingly, kids.

The World Does Not Revolve Around You

As you can tell from reading this I’m definitely an advocate for a spoiler-free period, but it does certainly end. I was once chastised for talking about the ending of I, Robot…This was in 2015. You can’t really expect people to not talk about popular movies and wait on you forever. It would be an exercise in selfishness.

This point forward, this will guide my spoiler conduct, both online and in-person. I have no illusions this will simply become a personal code, but hey one person changing is all it takes improve the landscape. Until everyone has come to an agreement, you have to take some personal responsibility to avoid them. At least you can count on me to play it close to the chest…for two weeks.



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