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Monday, October 14, 2019

Universal Orlando tries to remove its accidental, early release of a new Jason Bourne stunt show from the Internet

Posted By on Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 4:22 PM

  • Photo via Universal Pictures
As is typical with Universal Studios, long before a Jason Bourne-themed attraction was ever confirmed by the resort, rumors and leaks already indicated the new stunt show was heading to the park.

It was more was more than two years ago, when the "Terminator 2: 3-D" attraction closed, that the first hints of a Jason Bourne show first shared. At that time, a number of alternatives, ranging from "SING" to "Pitch Perfect," were still in the running for the replacement show.

By May of 2018, it was clear that Universal was moving forward with a stunt show, either themed to Jason Bourne or James Bond. A few months later, in August, when Universal Orlando closed its long-running Sinbad stunt show at Islands of Adventure, a timeline for the new Universal Studios Florida stunt show was already set, with a late 2019 opening likely. All of this is known thanks to numerous leaks, all while Universal itself remained mum on the project.

Now Universal itself has "leaked" new details on the upcoming stunt show, via a post on the Annual Pass website that was quickly taken down, confirming it will be themed to Jason Bourne and will open in early 2020.

The now-deleted post on Universal’s Annual Passholder website stated:

In Spring 2020, join your AP family as Universal Studios Florida debuts a live-action stunt show that will leave audiences marveling, “How on earth did they do that?” Through a cutting-edge fusion of stagecraft and film, you’ll follow our hero Jason Bourne across three continents as sinister characters pursue him, hoping to bring him in. You don’t just watch it. You feel it. See it a few times to really take it all in.

Brace yourself for what’s next. Brace yourself for The Bourne Stuntacular.

Universal has a history of "accidentally" posting information on upcoming attractions before they’re ready to announce them officially. In 2018, a similar incident occurred with "Universal's Cinematic Celebration" nighttime show and again later in 2018, when their social media accounts posted artwork for the, at the time, yet to be announced Hagrid’s coaster. It has also happened multiple times with announcements for Halloween Horror Nights. The difference this time is how the bloggers who cover Universal reacted, once the story was pulled.

Despite years-long rumors pointing to Jason Bourne as the new show theme, and Universal itself posting details on the attraction, numerous Universal fan sites were contacted by a company representative, asking that the information be taken down until the company is ready to announce the attraction – a second time – itself.

You could call it a Bourne ... Ultimatum.

At least some of these bloggers had been contacted via text message to their personal cell phones by a Universal representative asking if the bloggers could do a favor and delete their stories. In a move more akin to the NBA deferring to Chinese censorship, at least half a dozen fan sites actually followed Universal’s wishes and removed the details of the new show, despite those same details spreading through social media like wildfire at that very moment.

This request and corresponding ability of Universal Orlando to essentially erase a story it deems not ready for the press comes less than a month after Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel broke the story of Universal having employees at the City of Orlando-owned Orlando Utilities Commission sign non-disclosure agreements ahead of them being able to work on documents related to Universal projects.

Both Disney and Universal have a history of supporting media that gives them favorable coverage. In 2017, Disney saw backlash after it blocked the L.A. Times from a movie press screening after the paper ran a report on the company’s business connections to the City of Anaheim.

Universal seemed to successfully keep at least one recent news story under wraps, when a serious injury occurred in the E.T. ride. Despite multiple reports on social media, and a detailed account of the incident being posted on Reddit, the story never made it to most theme park news sites until a month later, when a lawsuit over the incident was covered by mainstream media outlets.

While most of the bloggers who pulled their coverage didn't share their thinking behind the move, it’s clear that some likely did it to stay on the "good side" of Universal. As one user on Twitter put it, they pulled their stories because of “media events plain and simple. Gotta stay on that list.”

For many bloggers with upstart websites, these media events are viewed as a type of legitimacy and even a reward for their websites, which rarely turn a profit. With that in mind, many bloggers ensure they post nothing that could be viewed as negative about Disney or Universal, ensuring that they get on and stay on the media event invite lists.

The difference between those types of stories and this one is, in the past, these fan blogs have avoided publishing unfavorable content; now, bloggers are actively rolling back previously published information, admitting they had done so at the behest of Universal.

It’s believed that Universal will officially re-announce the "The Bourne Stuntacular" attraction during Tuesday evening’s debut of the new Bourne-based television series "Treadstone" on USA.

Try to act surprised, OK?

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