Big names tend to attract attention, whether it be an actor, a director, a writer or a franchise. In today's media-heavy world it is virtually impossible to keep secrets as fans will comb through garbage to find discarded scripts and call sheets, take videos from dangerous ledges to catch a glimpse of the filming and generally harrass anyone and everyone involved to get slices of information.
This is a production trope where they take steps to throw off would-be gossip columnists and fanboy website reporters to keep some element of surprise past the teaser trailer.
In television shows this can be fairly difficult as between the filming of The Reveal
and airing on tv can often end up with several additional episodes with the reveal being common knowledge. It can be especially difficult with a Studio Audience
, despite non-disclosure agreements.
As to be expected (it's in the name), spoiler alert.
- For Return of the Jedi the crew looked to minimize the budget as the big name of Star Wars made location costs for The Empire Strikes Back skyrocket. So they pitched the movie as being a small horror film called Blue Harvest, complete with crew shirts and jackets with that name. This also kept people from getting too interested in snooping around.
- In a Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen press release Michael Bay expressly said that some of his announcements was deliberate misinformation. The big one being that Megatron was supposedly not returning, which was fairly transparent with being spoiled in the first major trailer. For the most part fans could figure out which info was good and which was bad.
- Transformers: Dark Of The Moon did something similar but they were more clever about it. They announced that Shockwave would be the new Big Bad of the movie, and in the comics he sometimes does take over as leader of the Decepticons. The general state of Megatron at the end of the second movie led credence to this announcement, a pre-release material even gave some focus to him. Ultimately, while a formidable enemy Shockwave was never in charge and largely served as The Brute and a foe Optimus respected. It was largely successful in that regard.
- Through all three movies there was a large discrepency between the names on the call sheets and the characters who were actually in the scene. Some of it was due to Hasbro finalizing which character was going to have that vehicle mode and thereby they only had an on-set name to be switched in post.
- In Angel they made a great deal of effort to hide Lindsay's return in the fifth season (last seen leaving town in the second season). His initial appearance was in The Tag of one episode, and they filmed it with a closed set. In his following episodes where he shows up the main people involved called the actor (Christian Kane) by another name. The spoiler was still thrown out to the internet about a week before the revealing episode aired.
- In a strange aversion, no one really knows how James Cameron managed to keep Avatar such a well-kept secret until the first trailer premiered. The heavy amounts of post-production work needed may have helped, but the guy kept all completed footage lock-up with an iron fist.