Thanks to the lovely people at Moviepilot, I had the great privilege of seeing 10 Cloverfield Lane in an early screening. Guys, this movie is incredible. It far exceeded my expectations. I strongly urge you all to see this movie, and not because I saw it for free, but because I freaking loved it!
Now when I say "BIRTH" in the title, I obviously know that this is not the first film with the name Cloverfield in it. This is quite possibly the launching point for a new anthology franchise. Whether there are current plans for future films that share the name remains to be seen. Also notice that I haven't said sequel once here. I think. Hold on, let me make sure, I'd hate to say that and be wrong... Yeah okay we're all clear here. Notice that I did say this was an anthology film. What's an anthology, DJ? Glad you asked, DJ (sometimes I talk to myself, so what?). The best example I can think of when the topic of anthologies comes up is the American Horror Story series, with each season chronicling a self-contained story that has no relation to any other. This allows for total creative freedom while still knowing what you're going to get with what you're watching.
Cloverfield, which was released in 2008, was the first film of this anthology and was met with positive reviews and was a part of the early wave of found footage films (not including The Blair Witch Project which saw its release long ago in 1999) that took Hollywood by storm, and then just as quickly became a lazy way to make a profit on a film, with too many films abusing the novelty of the found footage concept while making terrible movies. Fortunately Cloverfield was one of the good ones. Cloverfield was a film that was one of the first to spark my fascination with movies and filmmaking as it was so very intriguing, being a monster movie that was (in a sense) playing peek-a-boo with the audience, constantly increasing our fascination with a monster that we could barely see.
While 10 Cloverfield Lane is not a direct sequel to Cloverfield, it is a worthy successor to the name. This new film is not a found footage flick this time. It is a claustrophobic, nail-biting slow burn that will keep you guessing what's going to happen next. Now I really don't want to say much more as I know many of you have not seen the film, and I'm not the kind of person to ruin somebody's day with a spoiler for a great movie. So with that being said, let's discuss what the critical and box office success or failure of this movie could mean for this franchise.
For the sake of playing the devil's advocate...
...let's look at the possibility that this movie makes no money and gets mediocre reviews (it's doing fine so far, don't worry I'm just making a point). Then the Cloverfield brand will have proven to not be as popular as it was once assumed to be, and the big studio heads will hesitate at the thought of making any other films sharing the same name, as the novelty was apparently a fluke with the first installment. This would mean that IF another film was made, it might not surface for another 5-10 years. Now this scenario is all hypothetical. I do not believe this will be the fate of the film as I truly expect this film to tear it up upon its release. So now let us look at the alternative and what we hope will happen.
Based on early reviews as well as my own personal opinion having seen the film, 10 Cloverfield Lane is shaping up to be a glorious success. It is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 92% positive critic rating. People, you need to go see this movie. So we know it's a hit with critics, but will it make any money? The budget for this film according to IMDB is estimated at about $5 million. That is a small budget for a franchise film. Given the fact that there is a significant amount of intrigue and secrecy surrounding this film, as well as the fact that it shares a title name with another former smash hit, low budget film, there is a great chance that this movie will achieve an incredible amount of success with audiences. People are seeing ads and they want to see what happens. And anybody who respects this franchise and the novelty of letting a fresh story unfold upon first viewing will hopefully keep the spoilers to a minimum.
Now assuming I'm correct, let's talk about what I believe will happen moving forward with this franchise. JJ Abrams has stated that there are plans to connect the two films in the future (implying there WILL be more films), but time will tell if that actually happens. Here is what I hope happens: JJ Abrams and those involved in the creative process of this franchise will decide that this film is best left as an anthology series, with each film having nothing in common but a variation of the title name as well as some sort of inclusion of extraterrestrials. I believe that this would allow the future writers and directors to have much more freedom when creating these films, rather than having to stick to a timeline and canon of the respective movie universe. This way, they can create a completely original story that includes aliens or a monster, or even a story of an experiment gone horribly wrong.
I went to see the film with a friend of mine, and as we were leaving the theater we were discussing our thoughts on what the future may hold for this franchise. My thought was that the next film could be called something like Project Cloverfield, or The Cloverfield Project, chronicling the story of a sort of experiment or discovery of aliens that goes terribly wrong. My idea is to draw inspiration from films like Alien or Europa Report, following a group or even a single astronaut through a journey of horror and discovery. My point is that planning this franchise as an anthology provides an incredible amount of creative freedom which can even open doors to mix the specifically sci-fi elements of the franchise with other genres including action, horror, and hell you could even make a comedy if you had the right team at the helm.
There are endless possibilities that can be explored with this franchise and it's best to incorporate variety into the mix so that it doesn't become redundant, thus giving people less of a reason to go to the theater. If the Cloverfield franchise is to have continued success, JJ Abrams and friends must stick to their guns and play everything close to the chest, letting secrecy take control, allowing for speculation but never revelation up until the theatrical releases. Stay cryptic, stay fresh, and stay alien. This has potential to be THE next big franchise, so treat it with the respect it deserves and audiences will follow and buy tickets.
So those were my thoughts on what could be the next tentpole franchise that everybody wants a piece of! I hope I'm right about this. If I'm not, well, it doesn't really matter because what I say holds absolutely no weight in the grand scheme of things, so that I'm not too worried about. Plus we know Hollywood loves a good reboot, even if it's something we never asked for.
So check out the trailer below, go and see 10 Cloverfield Lane now in theaters, and tell me what you thought of it in the comments!