'Endgame' Directors Talk Spoiler Etiquette as Craze Hits Rom-Com Genre

"We can't control the internet. It's its own monster," Joe Russo says as Netflix's 'Always Be My Maybe' becomes the latest film to require journalists to sign an embargo form, on the heels of a similar request from Quentin Tarantino for 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.'
Getty Images/iStockphoto; Getty Images
From left: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' director Quentin Tarantino, 'Always Be My Maybe' star Ali Wong and 'Avengers: Endgame' star Robert Downey Jr.

Rambling Reporter has been keeping it secret since the May 22 premiere, but the role Keanu Reeves plays in Always Be My Maybe is … himself.

That innocuous detail and others concerning Netflix's new rom-com about a chef, played by Ali Wong, who hooks up with a movie star (it began streaming May 31) were mentioned in an embargo form that journalists were asked to sign on the red carpet. They also couldn't reveal the end song, "I Punched Keanu Reeves," which Randall Park's rapper character Marcus performs with his band Hello Peril. That's right, the spoiler-warning craze is so out of control, even cheesy love stories are getting in on the act.

A few days earlier, on May 20, Quentin Tarantino asked everyone who saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in Cannes to avoid "revealing anything."

A month earlier, the Russo brothers implored Avengers: Endgame audiences not to spoil the movie. "This is the environment we live in now," Joe Russo tells THR. "We can't control the internet. It’s its own monster. Whether there's malicious intent or compulsive intent to reveal story points of pop culture content, we wanted to make sure that we asked for a level of decorum in how all of that was dealt with.”

The directing duo released a similar note prior to Avengers: Infinity War in 2018; they realized about four months prior to the release, during test screenings, that the impact of the film was more significant than they'd anticipated and that it would change the entire experience if viewers knew the ending.

Says Anthony Russo, “We certainly respect the idea that when you see a film, you want to discuss it, you want to talk about it, you want to share your experience. And that's a really important part of the process. But it's trying to establish a window where people are given the opportunity to see the film.”

That window ended up being two weeks for Endgame, as the “ban” lifted on the second Monday after the premiere — a date the directors had “no choice” about, as that was when journalists said they’d begin putting spoilers in headlines.

The Russos ideally wanted to “hold back the dragon” on Endgame for at least three weeks, believing that “you’ve got about a two- to three-week window to occupy the oxygen of pop culture.” But they couldn’t carve out a window greater than two: “That feels like what society is going to allow,” says Joe.

Anthony says their pleas are “just a reminder to people — just be respectful of others and how they experience the film.” In the future, they expect a two-week, no-spoiler window for movies that are “vulnerable” to sensational headlines.

A version of this story appears in the June 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.