SMS Ruins Suspense Films

A few months ago, I linked to an Independent article reporting that movie executives were blaming instant messaging for the poor box office grosses of summer blockbusters. Essentially the executives were insisting that Hollywood has always made crappy blockbuster films, but now, because information travels so quickly (via IM, cell phones), today’s crazy kids are warning their friends to avoid schlocky films. Thus the colossal tanking of The Hulk (Ang Lee sounded like a good idea at the time) and the Charlie’s Angels sequel (this film never sounded like a good idea to me).

Looking back, I may have been giving the executives too much credit. This kind of desperate spin usually comes from someone trying to save his or her job. I do think it obvious that information travels more quickly now, and that it will effect how movies are marketed, distributed, and eventually made, which I think will continue to emphasize bigger and bigger opening weeks….

But while I was reading The Desi Flavor this afternoon, I came across another effect of SMS (short message servicing, for techno-lites like me) on film spectatorship: apparently, veiwers of Bollywood films are spoiling the suspense by SMSing the endings to their friends and colleagues. The Times of India has the story (which you probably shouldn’t read if you’re planning to watch Kal Ho Naa Ho). But the SMS trend has affected several popular Bollywood films:

The trend, of course, started with the suspense-thriller Gupt, where fans got a strange kick out of revealing the name of the killer. That was followed by the romantic triangle Deewana Mastana, where senders were keen to let others know who bags the heroine in the end. The craze really grew with Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante, where SMSs flew thick and fast about who the traitor was. luckily, it worked in favour of the film because there were rumours that the producers themselves were sending conflicting messages to create more confusion.

Not sure I have much to add here, but I’m intrigued by this confrontation between film and SMS, and this confrontation seems especially profound in Bollywood films that tend to be longer, often with melodramatic plots.

Then again, just imagine if your friend had “messaged” you the twist in The Crying Game

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