"Shut Up, You Freak!"
That's one of my favorite lines from Planet of the Apes, delivered by
Julius, the Gorilla assistant to Dr. Zira, to Taylor when he blasts him with a
And that's what Tim Burton is saying to all of us right now.
Tim Burton doesn't like what you're doing and he wants you to stop.
What are you doing? You're participating in communication. Over the Internet.
You're reading what I have written, and you're free to write back, agree,
disagree, e-mail your friends about it, whatever. What's worse, we're about to
communicate about Tim Burton's remake (or "re-imagining"... yeah,
right) of Planet of the Apes. And that just ticks him off to no end. And
I just made a disparaging comment about the whole "re-imagining"
nonsense. That should tick him off even more. By the end of this article, he
should really be fuming.
Here's what Burton had to say, according to the Internet Movie Database,
dated July 27, 2001:
Burton Blasts The Internet
Director Tim Burton is going ape -- he's furious at the entire internet
after a website gave away the ending of his new film Planet Of The Apes,
just days before its US release. The hot new film was shrouded in secrecy --
until, that is, website The Drudge Report revealed some essential plot
details. Burton rages, "This is why the earth is doomed. Ultimately,
that's the scary thing about this whole internet. What's the point anymore as
a filmmaker? The internet is really negative -- so many negative thinkers are
running it. People think I'm dark -- these internet people are as dark as they
come. We're killing ourselves and we don't know it. Don't they realize that
the printed word destroys lives? A lot of lives worked on this movie for a
long time. I try quietly in my soul to keep going and not let it disturb me,
but as a filmmaker, half your day is wasted responding to internet rumors. On
this movie I had to tell the studio, 'No, Mark Wahlberg and Helena Bonham
Carter's characters are not having a three-headed ape baby.'"
I can understand his being miffed about what Drudge did. I'm miffed about it.
So are many others, especially Harry Knowles at Ain't It Cool News. Drudge
revealed the ending to the new Planet of the Apes film before it was
released, which in and of itself is not wholly bad, but he offered no spoiler
warning to inform people who DIDN'T want to know that that was what he planned
to do. That is inexcusable. I had some respect for Drudge. He seems in some ways
a throwback to the reporters of old, who got down and dirty and went after a
story, rather that just reading the wire reports like so many lazy newscasters
do today. Drudge earned his place in the history books by breaking the Clinton-Lewinsky
scandal when the rest of the news media was sitting on the story, forcing them
to go with it. The rest of the world started paying a little more attention to
"Internet reporting." Now Drudge has ruined what little credibility he
had with this stunt. And that's exactly what it is. He's become the school yard
brat who tells everyone the ending of a movie so that he can ruin the experience
I was fortunate. I don't read Drudge very often. I heard about the incident
via Harry at AICN, who wasn't so lucky. Harry, as webmaster of the largest movie
news site, went to great lengths to NOT learn about Planet of the Apes so that
he could be surprised. Then Drudge had to ruin it. What Drudge did was
despicable and unjustified. But the point is, Drudge was the only one who did
it. AICN didn't, we didn't, Dark Horizons didn't, Coming Attractions by Corona
didn't, and Cinescape Online didn't. I only know of one other website that
sought to give away the ending. We provided a link to it and labeled it as a
possible spoiler. Only one person sought to "destroy the experience"
of watching Burton's film, and yet Burton chooses to curse the entire Internet
for the actions of one man.
We've given him a couple of years of free advertising. Do we get a thank you?
Sure, we reported the rumors, like the supposed love scene between Leo and
Ari (that, thankfully, didn't take place) and George Clooney's cameo. But that's
part of the fun. People like to speculate. What's more, and what other
filmmakers have learned (like Kevin Smith and Kevin Williamson... maybe it's
only Kevins) is that they can use the "misinformation" to their
advantage. Have fun with it! Get in the game! Tired of denying that you actually
shot five different endings? Tell people it was really six! It's not one
three-headed half-chimp, half-human baby, it's twins! Triplets even! Don't want
people to know how your movie ends? Tell them how it doesn't!
Alfred Hitchcock himself loved to spread misinformation about his films. He
had a ball telling lies about Psycho, even creating a big stir throughout
Hollywood with all the gossip-mongers as to who was going to play Mother.
Hitchcock knew people loved to talk and to speculate. He would have LOVED the
Internet. Sir Winston Churchill did the same thing with D-Day, and it worked
like a charm (certainly more important than a movie release). Germany knew we
were going to invade, but they had no idea of where or when. Churchill protected
that secret with a "bodyguard of lies." And yes, both Hitchcock and
Churchill would have been ticked, too, at Matt Drudge (especially Churchill).
But I don't think either would have condemned an entire group of people based on
the actions of one man. That's a form of bigotry, which, as you know, is one of
the themes of Planet of the Apes.
The printed word does not destroy lives, Tim. It's called freedom of speech,
freedom of the press. Every American has the right to say what they what,
whether you agree with it or not. And likewise, just because we all have that
right, doesn't mean others have to listen. Especially if they don't want to.