Elle Fanning, Super 8

Francois Duhamel/Paramount Pictures

Do you know what the surprise is in Super 8? I'm leery of surprise endings ever since M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening. Could this kind of secret-keeping backfire?
—C.C, via the inbox

I'd be leery of surprise endings, too, if I'd paid 13 bucks only to learn that the villain was a bunch of furious trees. But could the big Super 8 reveal really be that lame? I found out for you (spoiler-free, too):

I don't think you need to worry so much about this one.

"He already pulled this trick off once before with Cloverfield, ERC box office analyst Jeff Bock says of Super 8 director J.J. Abrams. "So it's no real surprise he's attempting to use his sleight of hand again."

Besides, this actually isn't much of a gamble for Paramount, Bock points out.

"This film is relatively low risk for [Abrams's shingle] Bad Robot and the studio, as the budget, $50 million, is basically a third of what most major summer blockbusters cost."

All that sexy secrecy, and a bargain, too! Analysts like Bock say the flick should bring in at least "the mid-$20 millions to mid-$30 millions" in its opening weekend, likely more. It's unlikely that investors won't be happy at the end of the day.

But you also asked what the surprise is. I found someone who has seen the movie. I browbeat this person, Tim League of the Alamo Draft House, for quite a while, but he insisted he was sworn to secrecy. Perhaps Abrams threatened to beat League to death with his heavy-looking super-cool hipster glasses; League wouldn't say.

But here's what he can tell me: The surprise is not lame.

"I thought the movie was the whole package," says League, who plans to screen the film in his restaurant/theaters. "I liked the first half of the movie better, when it was more of a Stand By Me, 1980s, sweet, coming-of-age-type story, but the second half is great too. I think people will be satisfied with what they find out. Audiences are safe with this one."

Need more dish on Super 8 and everything else going on in entertainment right now? Well, good, because all here in the latest podcast!

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(Originally published June 8, 2011, at 8 p.m. PT)

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