The link between 10 Cloverfield Lane and J. J. Abrams's mysterious 2008 thriller Cloverfield is tenuous. So much so, the original script hadn't intended to even exist in the same universe before it was purchased by the producer's production company, Bad Robot.
When similarities between the two narratives were realized, the forward thinking and savvy Abrams saw this as an opportunity. Rather than merely notice the parallel's between the two, he decided to explicitly link them together.
Hollywood's Hottest Trend
While drawing these connections may not be unnatural, it does point to a current trend that is sweeping its way through Hollywood; the trend of the film universe. Producers are realizing the impact a grandiose narrative can have, and the creatively challenging and financially rewarding opportunities that this can offer.
The term "movie universe" is generally associated with superhero films. Marvel turned the whole concept on its head back in 2008, when it decided to pursue the MCU in all its glory, starting with Iron Man.
But Marvel weren't the first. In the 1930s, the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe was the first to introduce the idea of character crossovers. In 1943 they released Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, and two years later House of Frankenstein featured Wolf Man, Dracula, and the Hunchback.
In more recent years, we've seen horror crossovers such as Freddy vs. Jason (2003) and Alien vs. Predator (2004) , as well as comedy versions, such as Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse, which features the same characters such as Jay and Silent Bob across films like Clerks (1994) and Dogma (1999).
A New Grand Narrative
Although Marvel didn't invent the idea, the meticulous attention to detail, shared timelines and interconnected events across the MCU added a new complexity to the phenomenon. The 12 films released have grossed an eye watering $3.5 billion, and have inspired others to take notice.
Marvel's comic book rival, DC, have recently started their answer to the MCU with the DC Extended Universe. Beginning with Man of Steel (2013), the next big release will see an ensemble cast join the ranks for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, followed by Suicide Squad this year. They've already announced a slate including eight additional films on top of those mentioned, running up to 2020.
Away from superheroes, the Universal Monsters Universe, the Transformers franchise and even Robin Hood are being brought back to life, and are now all being created or considered to feature in a new series of interconnected stories.
As well as Marvel and DC's distinct cohabiting storylines, there are more that are done a lot more subtly, often with only gentle insinuations or Easter Eggs linking them together. In a generation where sharing is caring, let's now take a look at some of the more discreet ones below:
1. Tarantino Movie Universe
The idea that all of the infamous auteur's movies are linked has been debated by fans for years, and recently the director himself confirmed this was the case. In typical Tarantino style, though, his creation runs a little deeper than suspected.
In an interview with The Project, the 52-year-old explained how things work. He said:
"There’s the realer than real universe, alright, and all the characters inhabit that one. But then there’s this movie universe. And so "From Dusk Till Dawn," "Kill Bill," they all take place in this special movie universe.
"So basically when the characters of "Reservoir Dogs" or "Pulp Fiction," when they go to the movies, "Kill Bill" is what they go to see. "From Dusk Till Dawn" is what they see."
Take a look here for an in-depth view of the theory.
2. Pixar Movie Universe
The Pixar theory is infamous online, for its meticulous unravelling of the entire back catalogue of films, and the suggestion that each movie is linked across a timeline spanning thousands of years.
The theory starts with Brave in the 14th/15th century, all the way up to Monsters Inc. in the year 4,500 - 5,000.
The original spirit-shattering hit, released in 1984, existed in the same realm as 1995's Casper. Dan Aykroyd's character, Raymond Stantz, appeared in the full Ghostbusters suit early on in the film.
The 2016 reboot is taking things even further. A production company created by Aykroyd, Ivan Reitman and Sony will release an influx of shared media. The new universe will also include more than one Ghostbusting team (one of which could star Channing Tatum).
4. 'Insidious' and 'Sinister'
Blumhouse Productions is somewhat of a powerhouse in the horror genre, and they too are beginning to delve into the universal model. Founder Jason Blum told Cinema Blend that this was something they'd continue to develop. He said:
"We’re not close to an Avengers, but I do like the idea of having the worlds collide in the different franchises we work on. That’s a really cool idea… I want to continue to do that."