Written by Nicole Pedersen
Before it opened, Paramount Pictures seemed less than confident about its JJ Abrams-produced monster flick Cloverfield and its ability to demolish the holiday weekend box office. Reps even predicted that their competition, 20th Century Fox’s romantic comedy 27 Dresses, would probably open slightly higher.
Of course by now we all know that that didn’t happen. Cloverfield, with its cast of newcomers and shaky hand-held DV footage nearly doubled Katherine Heigl’s take this past weekend to set box office records for both the MLK Holiday and for a weekend January opening. Considering that Cloverfield was made for a modest 25 million, the 41 million it brought in over its first three days makes me wonder what everyone at Paramount was so nervous about.
Then again, maybe I can see their point. I attended the press screening in New York on January 15th, and the silence from the crowd after the screen went dark was deafening. Press people generally make for lousy audiences.
Had I been watching the same film? So, OK, Cloverfield wasn’t going to win any awards, but in my opinion it accomplished its goal: it made me jump in my seat and kept me engaged with every shaky piece of footage it offered.
After the press screening came the January 18th press day, my very first in fact. Here’s how that went down: Collider was invited to attend Press Day for Cloverfield in NYC, and being one of the only East Coasters on staff, I volunteered to attend. I have read many of Frosty’s interviews and thought, really, how hard could it be?
Well, I wouldn’t say that my time at the Cloverfield press day was hard, but I will say that Frosty makes it look a lot easier than it really is.
First of all, I was expecting to do roundtable interviews that I could write up when I got home…. Nope, Paramount wanted to do TV interviews.
Well, OK, but how could we get them posted with Steve in Sundance?
No problem, says Paramount, we will edit and encode the footage for you.
Hmm, alright, but I won’t have to be on camera will I?
Oh, no! You will be off camera asking the questions.
So off I went with my little notebook, wearing my THICK glasses, ready for my first big press outing.
An initial sign that things were not going to go as I had imagined was the fact that the other women reporters present seemed awfully dolled up. No hoodies and jeans for these gals, never mind any glasses. Apparently I would be on camera after all.
Next I was informed that I would sit first with the director and then ALL six of the main cast of Cloverfield. I had prepared questions for groups of two only … there seemed to be a lot of potential for awkward silences when six actors under 25 are lined up in front of you.
So I was nervous, but I sucked it up.
The gang from Paramount
was very nice to me, even though I was sitting next to reporters from Cosmo and Conde Nast, etc. They were obviously more concerned with their movie than with anyone’s press status. Most sat lined up in the hallways watching Cloverfield’s
Rotten Tomatoes ratings rise and fall and reading reviews out loud off of their Blackberries. (I worried for a minute that they might cancel my interview once they read Brian’s review that had posted on Collider the day before, but if anyone read it, they did not seem to take it personally.)
I had not had a lot of time to prepare my questions, so during the subway ride to the hotel I asked random passengers what they wanted to know about Cloverfield. Nine out of ten wanted to know about the title. I am on the internet (duh) so I knew the answer, but thought I should work the question in somehow. Of course, when I sat with director Matt Reeves that is the one question I completely botched, which just goes to show: never take advice from people on trains… they don’t know shit.
Reeves was very animated (especially when I asked about his upcoming film with JJ Abrams called The Invisible Woman) and the rest of my questions were received without incident… on to the actors.
The TV interviews had been going for about 45 minutes by the time I got to the front of the queue. In that time the stars of Cloverfield had sat with maybe five reporters. Still, several of the cast remarked that they were getting bored and feeling “punchy,” while TJ Miller (who plays Hud, Cloverfield’s ersatz videographer) asked if he was coming off as “too arrogant.”
I tried to assure them that punchy was what was called for, as my questions were not too exciting, but as my “tight five” minutes progressed; the group seemed less punchy and more bored.
One big exception was Michael Stahl-David who plays Rob in Cloverfield. He really did the best he could to answer with more than three words, and as I am actually a fan of his from his work on last season’s NBC drama “The Black Donnellys,” I couldn’t have been more grateful or appreciative of his efforts.
And with that, I was done… I handed over my tapes to Paramount and exited the Cloverfield press day without a clear idea of what had happened or what I had asked to whom. I was too nervous to give much thought to the fact that I had just been filmed wearing my glasses, I was just grateful that I had gotten through the experience without slurring my words or drooling.
So a big Thank You to Paramount for extending me the invitation… I am glad I could be a tiny (except for my glasses) part of Cloverfield’s big weekend.
Questions for Cloverfield director Matt Reeves:
Why was it important to keep the details of the film so mysterious?
Was the title always meant to be Cloverfield?
After working on TV, how was it to direct a monster movie?
Was any footage cut from Cloverfield to keep its PG-13 rating?
Depicting the destruction of New York post 9/11…
Next project, The Invisible Woman…
Questions for cast of Cloverfield:
Back row L to R: Michael Stahl-David (Rob), TJ Miller (Hud), Mike Vogel (Jason)
Front: Odette Yustman (Beth), Lizzy Caplan (Marlena), Jessica Lucas (Lily)
Finally getting to talk about Cloverfield…
When you were cast did you know you were making a monster flick?
Paying attention to the web buzz and marketing…
Has everyone seen the film? Reactions?
Anyone bummed to be talking to me instead of on the View?
There are two ways to watch the cast interview: the first is a one shot, where all six actors are in the frame together. The second is where the camera goes to the person talking.
Cloverfield Cast – One Shot
Cloverfield Cast – Camera goes to Who is Talking