When you watch a film, do you notice which hand the character on screen is holding the gun in? And if you do, would you notice if in a following scene, the gun happened to be in the wrong hand? I guarantee you anyone who has ever worked on editing a film will notice this. They can’t help it. When shooting the same scene over multiple days (which happens often), consistency is key. It’s usually even someone’s job to check this. The problem with noticing the gun is in the wrong hand though, is that it overshadows your experience of the film. You have too much knowledge to enjoy it. If you think about it, we deal with this tyranny of excess knowledge everyday. Once you have flown business class, it’s hard to accept flying economy. After working as a waiter at a particular restaurant, it is nearly impossible to enjoy a meal there (once you know what happens behind the kitchen).
Would it be better to have no knowledge of a situation before walking into it? One of the best movie experiences I remember having was going to see Confidence in Australia on its opening weekend. It was the rare case where, somehow, I managed to make it to my seat in the theater with absolutely no knowledge of the film. No one had recommended it to me. I did not know who was starring in it. I hadn’t seen any reviews or trailers, or read any plot summaries. I hadn’t even seen a movie poster. Walking into the theater and sitting down to watch that movie was a completely blank slate. And I enjoyed the film in a way I can hardly remember enjoying any other, because I did not know what to expect.
Of course, when it comes to choosing a film to spend your hard earned $7 to $12 bucks on on a Friday night, Hollywood knows that most people don’t want to go in blind. They want to know what to expect, who the stars are and that they won’t be disappointed. This is why the franchise movies (Spiderman, Ocean’s Eleven/Twelve/Thirteen, Elizabeth II, etc.) are so popular. Because the movie studios are betting on proven idea. This also explains why independent and small budget films have such trouble getting box office time and large audiences. Small or new businesses have a similar challenge. A consumer knows what to expect when they walk into Target or purchase a box of Oreo’s. Going against that knowlege is a tough thing. But when you do, you can create an unexpected and memorable moment. Giving consumers what they expect is overrated. Sometimes the most powerful way to reach someone is by giving them an experience they know nothing about.