Movies Long Before #DontSpoilTheEndgame, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ Pioneered the Anti-Spoiler Campaign
Everyone involved with the upcoming Avengers: Endgame is going to great lengths to ensure that spoilers don’t ruin the experience for those who have been waiting 11 years for the movie, with directors the Russo Brothers issuing an official anti-spoiler statement today:
“When you see Endgame in the coming weeks,” they write, “please don’t spoil it for others, the same way you wouldn’t want it spoiled for you. Remember, Thanos still demands your silence.”
Marvel has even gone ahead and purchased an emoji for #DontSpoilTheEndgame, ensuring that the message is heard loud and clear. Don’t be a dick. Don’t spoil the movie.
For horror fans, this campaign may seem quite familiar. Way, way back in 1960, long before the internet (social media in particular) even made “spoiler culture” a thing, Alfred Hitchcock did everything in his power to ensure that everyone who saw Psycho was aware that spoiling Psycho was a dick move. How? He baked the anti-spoiler message right into the marketing.
“If you can’t keep a secret, please stay away from people after you see Psycho” was one of the film’s unique marketing taglines, as Hitchcock wanted to make sure that each and every person who bought a ticket to the movie was able to experience its twists, turns and shocks for the first time while sitting in the theater. Hitchcock was particularly protective of the Marion Crane twist – star Janet Leigh being knocked off halfway through the film was, to those who didn’t see it coming, a massive shock at the time – and his efforts to ensure the film was properly experienced saw him buying up copies of Robert Bloch’s novel and even forcing theaters to adhere to a strict policy: nobody was allowed inside after the movie had started.
“This is more than a suggestion. It is a requirement,” Hitchcock sternly told theater owners.
A master showman, Alfred Hitchcock revolutionized movie marketing with Psycho, and his efforts of course paid off as the film was a massive hit for Paramount. The gimmicks turned the horror film into event cinema, but more importantly, they saw Hitchcock working overtime to protect the sanctity of the movie-going experience. Fifty nine years later, with movie spoilers running rampant across the internet, Hitchcock’s groundbreaking efforts way back in 1960 can be appreciated today perhaps even moreso than they were all those decades ago.
You can check out vintage video and print advertisements for Psycho below.
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