J.J. Abrams’ talk has perhaps the best title of all time: “The mystery box.” In it, the Star Trek director and Lost co-creator reveals how, years ago, he purchased a box at a magic shop that promised $50 of magic for $15. Only, he has never had the heart to open it because “it represents infinite potential.” In his fast-paced talk, Abrams reflects on how mystery boxes are an essential part of on-screen narratives, and how withholding information can be far more engaging than giving it away.
So, would you have refrained from opening the box for as many years as Abrams did? Abrams and his production company Bad Robot teamed up with magic enthusiasts Theory 11 to create a real-life Mystery Lockbox to test your willpower. The medium-sized wooden box has a hinged top and a question-mark branded on its lid. Inside, are 12 decks of Mystery Box Playing Cards, sealed in paper wrappers, and presumably a few surprises. If you decide to find out what they are, that is. The box is shut tight with an old-school alphanumeric lock.
So will you be Locke, determined to open the hatch (we miss you, Lost), or will you be Megan discouraging her roommate from opening her secret shoebox (hello, Felicity fans)? Either way, as Popwatch reports, a portion of the proceeds go to 826 National, the organization started by Dave Eggers which helps kids beef up their writing skills. Which brings up another layer of mystery — did Abrams hear about the non-profit from Egger’s TED Talk, “Once upon a school?”