A pair of UNCC grads are keeping you safe from the dark side.
And when we say dark side, we mean spoiling the fun of the Star Wars movie for others.
Charlotte creative company owners Justin Ruckman (top) and Matthew Tyndall – who launched the now defunct but at the time visionary CLT Blog – just launched Force Block, a Google extension with more than 20,000 downloads to date. Download your blocker here.
— Lifehacker (@lifehacker) December 15, 2015
Force Block does exactly what it says: Blocks Star Wars spoilers from invading your screen and ruining the fun and anticipation of the nationwide release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on Friday.
If you do stumble upon a spoiler site, you are rewarded with a Star Wars-themed message. One reads:
This and other quips were created by Erik Button, the company’s video editor, and have taken on a life force of their own.
Ruckman, 31, and Tyndall, 29, are partners of Priceless Miscellaneous (Priceless Misc.), a digital production and video creation company with branches in Charlotte and Atlanta. They met in a Chinese language class at the UNC Charlotte.
Force Block has zipped through the galaxy at lightening speed with no sign of slowing down. Word of their genius blocker has spread across media outlets around the country including the Washington Post and a tweet from Katie Couric.
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) December 15, 2015
The two are still waiting for a nod from The Late Show host Stephen Colbert – a fellow Star Wars fan.
How they come up with the idea for Force Block.
With the opening of the new Star Wars movie quickly approaching, Ruckman and Tyndall told us they figured their only defense against spoilers was to abstain from the Internet for a week – an impossible task for most any mortal or droid. Tyndall says he and his editor had been joking around for months about building a program that could block movie spoilers.
“Then I thought, duh, we can do this,” he says.
“We build this stuff all the time,” added Ruckman. “For us it was a challenge.”
Were they worried they were going to find a spoiler while building the spoiler defense system…I mean program?
The building of Force Block started with compiling a list of key words and phrases pertaining to Star Wars movies. The process and construction took less than a weekend and launched on Monday, Dec. 14.
When the early screenings came out, Ruckman took one for the team and viewed clips of the new movie so he could add to the list of spoiler offenders. Tyndall, a self-described Star Wars fan, admits he would have cried if he had to do that job. In fact, Tyndall did this interview in his car on the way to pick up his 18 movie tickets for opening night of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
A photo posted by Matthew Tyndall (@mrtyndall) on Dec 16, 2015 at 4:05pm PST
Do they have any other plans for future spoiler block programs?
Both Ruckman and Tyndall know timing is everything, and their idea coupled with the hype and excitement of the Star Wars movie, was a special opportunity.
“We released it the day everyone started talking about Star Wars spoilers,” says Ruckman.
Tyndall says people have approached them about creating the same type of program for popular television shows like Game of Thrones, House of Cards or The Walking Dead. But the two aren’t big on the idea.
“I think this is a unique moment in pop culture,” says Tyndall. And, most people know now not to spoil popular shows and movies on social media, they added.
*sees Game of Thrones spoiler**almost sees Star Wars spoiler**throws phone at wall*
— Bueller (@David_Wuenschel) December 15, 2015
So, let’s talk Star Wars.
Tyndall is the Star Wars fanatic, Ruckman says Star Trek is more his speed. “Return of the Jedi” is Tyndall’s favorite Star Wars film to date. Ruckman refrained from voting. Tyndall says he most closely identifies with R2-D2 because “he’s pretty much a bad ass.” Ruckman’s vote goes to Kit Fisto.
“He’s a Jedi that can swim underwater like a mermaid. He has the whole spectrum of land and sea covered.”
— MarketWatch (@MarketWatch) December 17, 2015