J.J. Abrams sure can keep a secret. Bad Robot have today officially announced 10 Cloverfield Lane for a March 11 release, describing it as a “blood relative” to their 2008 found-footage monster smash Cloverfield. Reports started appearing on social media yesterday concerning a trailer for the movie that was attached to showings of Michael Bay’s 13 Hours. Shortly thereafter a version of the trailer, seemingly (but not really) shot secretly and illegally by someone in a theatre surfaced online. Now we have the full and proper studio version.
Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher, Jr., the film hasn’t simply dropped out of thin air. As far back as 2014 the production was called first Valencia, then The Cellar, and was described as the story of a girl who, on waking in an underground cellar with a man after being involved in a car crash, is told that the outside world has been annihilated in a nuclear war. Josh Campbell and Matt Steucken were the screenwriters and a rewrite has seemingly since been undertaken by Dan Casey.
J.J. Abrams gave a statement to Collider saying:
“The idea came up a long time ago during production. We wanted to make it a blood relative of Cloverfield. The idea was developed over time. We wanted to hold back the title for as long as possible.”
Cloverfield (2008) didn’t invent the found footage concept but you could argue it reached it’s apogee with the film. Centering on a group of New York friends whose enjoyment of a going-away party is rudely interrupted by a creature the size of a skyscraper bringing death and destruction it it’s wake, it was fondly received and a sizeable hit with $170m domestic. The ending was left pretty open-ended if you recall and there have been sequel rumours and demands ever since.
Star Winstead has already said she spent over two months “locked in a cellar” with Goodman for the film so perhaps we are looking at a relatively small, one-set production with the claustrophobia providing conflict. Factor in J.J.’s talk of it being a “blood relative” and it becomes even more vague. Is it set before, during or after the events of the original movie, if at all? It all hints to being an economic, self-contained picture; bear in mind also that this is director Dan Trachtenberg’s feature debut.
Abrams certainly managed to keep most if not all of the main plot and developments of Star Wars: The Force Awakens under wraps, helped in part by fans keen to be surprised. Now he goes and unveils a whole secret movie less than eight weeks before release. In the internet age of mass spoilers, leaks and rumour, this can only be applauded.