With Avengers mania gripping the globe, it comes as no surprise that the story of a Hong Kong man who was thrashed by fellow cinema-goers on opening night for loudly revealing spoilers outside the theater was shared far and wide.
However, a Coconuts HK visit to the cinema where the incident allegedly occurred, and interviews with employees there, reveals that the man may have been attacked by something much more sinister: hypoglycemia.
The news story originated with a photo of a man in a white shirt with an apparent head injury being tended to by several others. Droplets of blood are visible on the floor at his feet.
The photo was accompanied by two short messages: “Someone got beaten outside the entrance of the cinema,” and “Today is the first day of Avengers screening,” along with a see-no-evil monkey emoji. The photo and comments appeared to have been sent via a messaging app.
A screenshot of the photo and the accompanying messages was soon posted to the message board LIHKG with another caption: “Spoiler dogs should be treated like this,” along with a rock ’n’ roll-cool-guy emoji.
But not even that rock ’n’ roll cool guy could have predicted what would happen after Taiwanese media outlet TVBS published its account of the man’s purported beating at the hands of a mob angered by his Endgame spoilers.
In TVBS’s telling, the man emerged from the theater loudly giving away the film’s closely guarded plot while others waited in line to go in, prompting “public enthusiasm to teach him” a lesson.
That enthusiasm turned into a “quite fierce” response, the outlet continued, which ended in the man beaten bloody in the theater’s lobby.
While even TVBS noted that their own account’s veracity was questionable (ya think?), that didn’t prevent it from metastasizing into a global news story, with major publications in the UK, US, New Zealand, Singapore, and India all getting in on the action.
Given that the film represents the culmination of 11 years of fandom for many viewers, and that even its creators had begged viewers in an open letter not to ruin it for others, the violent reaction to spoilers may not seem beyond the realm of possibility.
However, holes first started to appear in the narrative when police officials told Coconuts HK this week that they hadn’t received any reports of assault outside a cinema in Causeway Bay on the day in question.
The cinema — referred to simply as a “theater in Causeway bay” in the coverage — was in fact the Cinema City location at the Jade & Pearl Plaza (note the vertical lights that appear in both the photo of the Jade & Pearl lobby at left, and the one of the alleged victim above).
A security guard at the location yesterday told Coconuts that he had been told by colleagues that the “young man” seen in the photo had in fact felt faint as he was coming down the stairs, and had tripped and hit his head.
The guard, who declined to be named, also pointed out a man visible in the photo wearing a blue shirt and face mask as another security guard at the plaza.
An employee at the cinema’s ticket desk, meanwhile, confirmed that the scene in question had indeed taken place on Wednesday, opening night, adding that while he didn’t know what exactly had happened, he hadn’t heard anyone shouting spoilers beforehand.
Another employee of the cinema said she had been told a similar chain of events by her manager.
“It’s not true,” she said, holding up her phone to show an appropriate translation of what she had been told was the actual culprit: “Low blood sugar.”
The man had felt faint as he was leaving the movie, she continued, and after resting for a bit near the concessions stand, he attempted to leave, and at that point must have fainted.
“It’s not someone fighting,” she added.
However, in a movie-worthy twist, both the security guard seen in the photo and the manager of the cinema declined to tell reporters what exactly happened on that fateful night.
Reached by phone, the manager professed not to know what had happened, and promised to check with security. Later phone calls went unanswered.
The guard seen in the photo, for his part, at first told Coconuts he didn’t remember what had happened. When pressed again later, he said he could not “make a report” as he had been instructed not to speak to the media.
While the seemingly inexplicable evasiveness carried the whiff of a cover-up, that also seems a bit unlikely.
Think about it: someone had the crap kicked out of them in a movie theater, in Hong Kong, in 2019, on the opening night of the most popular movie in the history of popular movies and no one caught it on their phone?
Not likely. Not in this (Marvel Cinematic) Universe.