The marketing and release of 2008’s Cloverfield was undeniably cool. In the middle of the internet age, the fact that folks could go in to see Transformers and be treated to a trailer for a movie they’ve literally never heard of was unique, and harkened back to the showmanship of old. So when Cloverfield finally came out, fans were already clamoring for another experience just like it.
There’s been talk of a sequel for years, with producer J.J. Abrams fielding the brunt of the questioning along with Cloverfield director Matt Reeves. Both filmmakers obviously moved on to bigger and very time consuming things (Star Trek and Star Wars for Abrams, the Apes sequels for Reeves), but Abrams pulled a fast one on audiences once more by dropping the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane last month, announcing the existence of a potential Cloverfield sequel just two months before it opens in theaters.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, the film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a woman who wakes up in a bomb shelter with two men (John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr.) who claim to have saved her from an unknown menace outside, with Goodman’s character insisting that everyone on the outside is dead. Exactly what kind of connection the film has to Cloverfield remains a bit of a mystery, but Abrams recently spoke to EW about the film, and he had a word of warning for folks expecting to see the literal Cloverfield 2:
“There is a monster in this movie. It’s not the monster you expect, but there is a monster. The thing that I will say about anyone who is going to it expecting to see literally Cloverfield 2, those characters and that monster are not in this movie, but there are other characters and other monsters. It’s a very different story, but it is a spiritual successor to that movie. What I hope is that they will be satisfied by wanting to see something that is not of this natural Earth and not necessarily something that you would expect, and I hope that what they find gives them that fix, that thrill that I think they might be looking for in a literal Cloverfield 2 movie.”
So no, the outside menace in 10 Cloverfield Lane is not the same monster that plagued the characters in the original film, but there is a connection between the two movies. Abrams revealed why they opted to go this route for the Cloverfield follow-up instead of making a traditional sequel:
“I was always surprised at how frequently people would talk about Cloverfield. But we’re in a post-Godzilla, post-Pacific Rim time. Doing a giant kaiju monster movie needs to have a really great reason to exist, otherwise it becomes just another version of the thing we’ve all seen. We talked about it quite a bit, but nothing presented itself that demands it get made.”
And then the script for 10 Cloverfield Lane—then titled The Cellar—arrived:
“This script came in and had an incredibly strong central conceit. It was a very powerful Twilight Zone idea. We began developing the story, and we came upon some things where it became clear to us, that we were in a very interesting place, because the story was wholly original, a very different situation, different characters from anything we’ve done. But the spirit of it, the genre of it, the heart of it, the fear factor, the comedy factor, the weirdness factor — there were so many elements that felt like the DNA of this story were of the same place that Cloverfield was born out of.”
The idea, then, spurred that this could be the Cloverfield sequel that fans have been demanding for years:
“It just became clear that as we were working on the movie, this could be something that is not the sequel that anyone might expect. It’s not the continuation of the story that people might think of, but it was so clearly associated. There was such a clear Venn diagram of these two things, it felt like if we were literal about connections to the first movie but in no way that people might expect us to be, it could be it’s own thing. We very intentionally didn’t call this movie Cloverfield 2, but we realized that there was enough of a connection, and the movie was good enough that it warranted this association in a way that we think is justified and exciting.”
Abrams added that in choosing to make this the Cloverfield follow-up, he very intentionally wanted to give audiences the sequel they really want, not the sequel they think they want:
“What I interpreted was people wanted to see another point of view. People want to see what happens afterward. People want to see that the monster survived the attack. People want to see if there are more monsters. All of those things were clear. I got what people were asking about, but I also know that the desire to see a sequel doesn’t necessarily justify making one.”
For Abrams’ part, he thinks fans will be pleased with 10 Cloverfield Lane:
“I think this kind of release and the movie is a complete thrill ride, very smartly told. It is really scary. It is incredibly weird. It’s funny. It has a huge heart. There’s an incredible main character that Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays. She’s terrific in the movie. It’s beautifully directed. I think there are some incredibly cool special effects. It ends up doing all of these things that I love in a movie. It’s got all of the things that Cloverfield had, without making you throw up because it’s not a found footage movie.”
By teasing a tentative connection to Cloverfield, Abrams and Paramount no doubt hope to bring in folks who may have been put-off by an original sci-fi film. But, for all intents and purposes, that’s what 10 Cloverfield Lane is, and with this cast and crew, plus the Cloverfield ties as a cherry on top, this is definitely something to be excited about. An should this film become a success, Abrams and Co. already have an idea for a third movie. Luckily we don’t have long to wait, as 10 Cloverfield Lane opens in theaters on March 11th.
For more from Abrams, including how the whole “mystery box” thing has been blown out of proportion, check out the full interview at EW.