Cliffs Notes for movies: Spoilers for motion pictures on the Web

Our technology columnist talks with the guys responsible for TheMovieSpoiler.com and MoviePooper.com.

Too fidgety to sit still for two hours in a dark movie theater?

Do you sometimes find a movie’s surprise ending is not reason enough to pay $8 to see what is otherwise a turkey of a film?

Perhaps you sadistically want to eliminate the fun and enjoyment people have when they go to the movies by giving away the ending.

From now on, all you have to do in order to ruin your friends’ cinematic adventure is to boot up your browser and click yourself over to a movie spoiler Web site.

Movie spoilers are the Cliffs Notes of the movie world, summarizing the plot and giving away the endings to all the major Hollywood movies.

Just like any good secret, spoilers are popular…whether because of curiosity, a lack of time to watch an entire movie or to offer keen insight into a plot twist at your next cocktail party.

One Tacoma man has been offering his well-written take on the movies for many years at his Web site at TheMovieSpoiler.com.

Because he works in the movie industry, he prefers to keep his identity under wraps.

TheMovieSpoiler Guy, as I call him, watches the movies, then condense the story, plot, scenes and ending into a fairly detailed and lengthy abridgment.

If you like your spoilers short and sweet, TheMovieSpoiler Guy likes to recommend his like-minded colleague, Curt Wiederhoeft, founder of MoviePooper.com, where only the ending is offered in just a sentence or two.

Sometimes his brief abstracts are so cheeky or so sparse that they take on the intrigue of Orson Welles’ “Rosebud” comment in “Citizen Kane,” which, by the way, also happens to be spoiled at MoviePooper.com (Entry: “ ‘Rosebud’ is his childhood sled.”)

We assembled these two founders of the Web’s most popular movie spoiler Web sites to find out about the business of not keeping secrets.

Q: What are some of the reasons people come to a movie spoiler site?

MoviePooper.com: Sometimes people don’t have the time or inclination to go to a movie, but want to be up on the talk at the water cooler and have something to say when everyone else is talking about a movie.

TheMovieSpoiler.com: A lot of times they come to my site after they’ve seen the movie.

Maybe they didn’t understand it.

Maybe they fell asleep or had to leave early.

A lot of the e-mail I get is from people asking me what my take is on the movie or what city it was filmed in.

I try to answer every e-mail I get – sometimes 100 per day, depending on the movie.

If they come to my site, they’ll know the entire story, all the way down to the big twist ending.

Q: What do you think the movie industry thinks of what you guys are doing?

TheMovieSpoiler.com: I’m sure they don’t approve, but we’re just talking about movies.

How can that hurt?

MoviePooper.com: There was actually one small studio that wanted me to promote their film – which I obviously couldn’t do.

But in general, they just ignore me completely.

Q: There are people who intensely don’t want to know the ending to a movie. Have you heard from anyone who was upset you gave away the ending?

MoviePooper.com: Just the other day I heard from a guy who told me my parents weren’t married (laughs).

We’re not holding a gun to their head to click on these spoilers so I don’t understand.

Q: What kind of traffic are you getting?

TheMovieSpoiler.com: I usually get two- to three-thousand unique hits per day.

If it’s a big movie release, I’ll have up to 6,000 hits in a day.

Mondays and Fridays are always the big days.

Q: Any other interesting stats about your visitors?

MoviePooper.com: Just that more people are from the military than I would have expected.

It must be the Navy guys on the submarines that are bored.

The “navy.mil” domain is always the top visitor every week.

MoviePooper.com: I get about 2,000 visitors a day.

The funny thing is an average visitor will look at 20 different movie endings at my site.

Q: Where primarily is your traffic coming from?

TheMovieSpoiler.com: We both are on the Yahoo! Spoiler listings.

Q: Are you making any money from your spoiler Web sites?

TheMovieSpoiler.com: Mine is totally just a hobby.

I make a few dollars from Amazon ads.

MoviePooper.com: I haven’t made a cent.

I think the only way to make money is to sell subscriptions and I don’t think that’s working out for “Salon” or anyone else.

I’d rather keep making it a free service.

My time is free when the rest of the family goes to sleep and I’m just here typing out spoilers.

Q: What is your most popular spoiled movie or undiscovered gem?

MoviePooper.com: The most popular is always the most current movie out at the moment.

Once everything settles down, it’s almost always “The Matrix” that’s at the top.

I don’t know if that because they don’t want to pay to rent it or didn’t understand it.

If I were to recommend a movie that people should go to see before they visit my site, it would have to be “The Miracle Mile” with Anthony Edwards.

Q: What’s next on the agenda for you?

TheMovieSpoiler.com: I’ve tried my hand at articles.

I’m going to try that again with something I’m going to call “They Ruined the Ending of My Favorite Book” for people who may have enjoyed a novel that just got completely destroyed at the movies.

Q: What are your missions?

TheMovieSpoiler.com: I just want to be the one source someone can go to to find out what the movie was all about.

They can know I’ll have all the current films.

MoviePooper.com: I just hope I’m helping out at least one person every day to find an answer to a movie question they have.

That’s what the World Wide Web is all about, isn’t it?

The full audio interview with the movie spoiler web site owners is available for listening anytime at webtalkguys.com.

Dana Greenlee is a Web designer and co-host of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Tacoma-based talk show featuring technology news and interviews. WebTalkGuys was just named the top “Hidden Gem” in PCWorld Magazine’s August 2002 issue. It is broadcast locally on KLAY 1180 AM Saturdays at 11 a.m. The show is also on CNET Radio in San Francisco and Boston, on the Web at www.CNETRadio.com, www.WebTalkGuys.com and via the XM Satellite Network, on IM Networks’ Sonic Box and on the Mobil Broadcast Network. Past shows and interviews are also Webcast via the Internet at www.webtalkguys.com.

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