Roger Ebert Undermines Cloverfield’s Campaign

After months of witnessing one of the best ad campaigns for a movie since The Blair Witch Project I’ve just had the surprise of Cloverfield given away in the blurb at the top of Roger Ebert’s review in his weekly email update that innocently appeared in my inbox.

After months of speculating and not knowing, the fun of the event surrounding Abram’s new film has been crushed.

I would say this is breaking movie etiquette just as much as talking on your cell phone during a movie would be.

Here are some other spoiler blurbs for movies that have come and gone that Ebert could have ruined, but was smart enough not to.

“Man escapes deserted island to find that things can change.” — Cast Away

“He can’t see the ghosts, because he’s one himself.” — The Sixth Sense

“Have you ever tried beating up yourself? Ed Norton and Brad Pitt are the same person!” — Fight Club

“Oh, my goodness, he’s been on Earth the whole time!” — Planet of the Apes

“I guess all it takes is your wife’s head in a box to push you over the edge.” — Seven

Thank you Roger Ebert for not making those mistakes. If there was only a way to reverse time and stop you from ruining the surprise of Cloverfield for half of America…in a blurb.

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3 Responses to “Roger Ebert Undermines Cloverfield’s Campaign”

  1. Jonathan Lapper Says:

    “Oh my god, I was wrong / It was Earth all along. / I guess you finally made a monkey / [chorus] ‘Yes we finally made a monkey’ / You finally made a monkey out of meeeeeee!” Troy McLure, Stop the Planet of the Apes I Want to Get Off!

    I don’t mind spoilers in critiques (they’re impossible without them), in reviews if it’s telegraphed or in essays years after the fact. But in blurbs and trailers they make me furious. I remember one movie that kept one secret but spoiled another: The Empire Strikes Back. They didn’t let us know Vader was Luke’s father until you saw it in the theater. That was good and I was too young when the first one came out to look up the word “Vader” and realize it meant “father” so it surprised me and everyone else.

    But Yoda was spoiled. It is clear in the film when Luke finally discovers that Yoda is the Yoda he’s been looking for that Irving Kirschner and Laurence Kasdan intended it to be a shock to both Luke and the audience but leading up to the film there was one article or tv special after another about Frank Oz puppeteering Yoda, the Jedi Master. Reviews also mentioned it liberally. The second you saw him you knew who he was. I’d love to show that movie to someone who’s never even heard of Star Wars to get their reaction but I don’t think it’s possible for someone like that to exist anymore.

  2. Phillip Says:


    That’s exactly what I mean. You would think reviewers could infer what is meant to be a surprise in the movies they see and keep it that way. Reading the review of “There Will Be Blood” is one thing but seeing in the blurb that the film ends in “madness”, well, tells you how the movie ends! (Another Ebert review) And trailers, don’t even get me started on trailers.

    I was 3 or 4 when I saw “Empire” for the first time. I had read nothing, saw zero trailers, so everything was a surprise. I guess I’m one of the people you’re looking for. It was great seeing this tiny green crazy thing getting zapped by R2-D2 turn into a great Jedi master. And the final look he gives Luke in “Jedi” gave me chills — “You will be…you will be.” I can’t imagine how I would have felt if those moments had been given away to me as a child. And it seems like when those moments are, it takes away that innocence of experiencing something for the first time.

    J.J. Abrams talked about in the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly that the inspiration for the way “Cloverfield” was sold dated back to a time in which the first thing you would hear about a movie was from the theatrical trailer. The whole thing feels like more of an event, I think. This whole letting the buzz build long before the trailer even premieres makes things smaller.

  3. jlaw Says:

    I quite like Ebert’s reviews, but I must admit I thought the exact same thing of it when he basically ruined Cloverfield within the first paragraph.

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