I actually had Kirk's death (and not just one death, but two!) spoiled for me when I was in line at a grocery store early in the fall of 1994, many weeks before the film premiered. A major national tabloid had published spoilers about the movie and plastered pictures of Kirk and other characters across their cover for that week's issue.
I had heard rumors about this being Shatner's last adventure as Kirk and the possibility that he'd die in the new film and I knew that tabloids can get details wrong and deliberately exaggerate others, so while I wasn't sure if Kirk indeed died in Generations
but I was at peace with his demise if it would indeed turn out to be true. It was just a matter of time before we saw Shatner's last portrayal of Kirk (the character's death or otherwise) and the passing of the torch to the 24th century crews.