Movie spoilers - statute of limitations?

In a couple of recent threads, I’ve seen a poster give a spoiler warning for the movie Red Dawn (a mid-80’s film), and another complain about an unwarned spoiler for the film Citizen Kane (which was released in 1941). I’ve always thought there’s a statute of limitations on spoiler warnings. I figure after a movie has been on cable for awhile, it’s fair game for free discussion.

So, is there a limit? How old does a movie have to be before you don’t have to worry about giving away spoilers? Does it depend on the movie (i.e. a classic should be treated more carefully)? How long do you give a movie until you stop worrying about spoilers?

Well, I certainly think 60 years is plenty of time (i.e. Citizen Kane). When nobody treats it as a Spoiler anymore, it isn’t. When everybody KNOWS the twist or ending, and you don’t, well that’s too bad. Examples are Star Wars or Psycho.

Why? What happens in Psycho?


I’m the one who got chewed on for not putting a spoiler warning on a Citizen Kane post but my thought was that in a specialized movie thread everyone would have seen that film. I mean it is Citizen Kane, for God’s sake!

I always assume that dopers are above the heard. OK, OK, I should not assume. Thinking about it, I realized later I should probably have been a little more subtle with the post. It will always be new to somebody.

Jet and a couple of others came to my defense, and I appreciated it. Thanks Jet et. al.

New Movies? - When they come out on cable
Classics? - Should always have a spoiler warning
Very well known classics? - None

Yeah, I get mighty peeved at spoilers of recent movies. I usually wait to see movies until they’re shown on regular cable, so I say give a warning until after its final showings in all popular formats (DVD, cable etc).

This reminds me, not long ago a DVD website I frequent commented on the then-new Planet of the Apes DVDs. They groused that the cover of the DVD, which showed the famous “Statue of Liberty” scene, gave away the ending. Well, crimony, didn’t everyone know about that by now?

I’d set the statute of limitations at five years. If, five years after its release, you haven’t put forth the effort to see the movie, you probably never will unless it’s by accident. So, the hell with you.

Actually, my gf doesn’t know anything about Planet of the Apes or the SOL ending, so I’ve been trying to hide it from her until she sees the original.

For really well known movies (Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, etc), I don’t worry about it. Other than that, it doesn’t take that much effort to type “SPOILER!” so I usually include it, even if it seems likely that most people already know that Rosebud was the stripper Kane lost his virginity to.


Nice try, Sublight!

I have to say, I’m torn on this. Personally, I try never to give spoilers unless it’s crucial to the post (e.g., my tirade about The Crying Game from a while back). My thinking is, you simply never know who’s not seen what.

That being said, I think some people overreact to spoilers. As I suggested in the above-mentioned tirade, if a movie is worth seeing, it will be worth seeing even if you already know the ending. Example: just this weekend I saw The Usual Suspects for the first time. Knowing the ending, in that case, just made the movie that much more fun for me because I could appreciate the craft that went into setting up the ending.

They reveal that “Keyser Sose” is the name of Norman Bates’ old sled.

It’s difficult to find a hard-and-fast rule for a good statue of limitations. If a movie is old, popular, and has entered the public consciousness, then I don’t see a problem with spoiling. (That is, most people tend to hear that Rosebud was a sled or Soylent Green is people well before they see the movie.)

However, if I’m going to watch an obscure 1930s-era movie with some friends for the first time, and one of them spoils a twist in the movie, I’d whine like said crack-addled rhesus monkey.

It makes it difficult to say that after a movie is X years old, it’s no longer a spoiler to discuss it - especially since in the thread that spawned this, someone mentioned that he’s only 24 years old. Citizen Kane may have been available for 60 years, but if you’ve only been able to watch/appreciate movies for a handful of years, it’s a lot harder to see a wide variety of movies.

It’s a littler easier to define it for more modern movies, as it seems most people have seen more current (1980s-90s) movies than classic movies. The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense are two movies with great endings, but they’ve both been out a while (1992 and 1998, I think?) and it’s always annoying to start discussing a movie only to hear someone shriek “SPOILERS!” and cover their ears, or get angry that you dared to talk about a movie.

As KneadToKnow said, watching a movie while knowing the ending is a treat - appreciating the craft that goes into setting up the ending is an enjoyment in itself. I still like watching Sixth Sense and Unbreakable to pick up the small hints that lead toward the ending.

Really, there’s not a good rule-of-thumb. It’s fun to rebut a spoiler whine by citing a statute of limitations, but it’s also a shame to miss out on a great movie twist because the schmuck in the cubicle next to yours can’t keep his mouth shut.

(Was there some movie that, at the end, requested the audience keep quiet about the twist in order to preserve it for future fans?)

Just use discretion, I suppose. If there’s a new movie in release, I’ll try to preface a discussion about it with “have you seen it? Ok, great” or something to that extent.

Eh, I’m babbling. Still bitter about having The Ten Commandments spoiled by my Sunday School Teacher, I suppose.

I thought that, once Jaye Davidson was nominated as Best Supporting ACTOR in “The Crying Game,” the “secret” was pretty much over!

Actually, I knew that “secret” long before I saw the movie, simply because I used to subscribe to National Review (you never would have guessed, right?), and John Simon’s critique of the film gave it away. So, tepid homophobe that I am, I decided not to see it…

But of course, I couldn’t avoid it. The woman I was dating at the time was a single mom, who had seen nothing but Disney/kiddie movies for months, and was DYING to see a movie for grown-ups. She really wanted to see “The Crying Game.” And since I couldn’t refuse without telling her why (thus giving away the “surprise” and ruining it for her), I figured, “Okay, fine, for her sake, I’ll see it. Won’t be the first schlong I’ve ever seen. I’ll survive.”

As it turned out, I liked the first 30 minutes of the film a lot- the relationship that developed between the IRA terrorist and his hostage was funny and touching. The rest of the film was just boring. On the whole… a 3 star movie, in my book. Good, though highly overrated.

But of course, the very instant Jaye Davidson appeared on screen, my date nudged me and said, “That’s a man, isn’t it?”