Thursday, July 5, 2007

Codename Cloverfield

Bad Robot Productions has opened with monster marketing on Independence Day, in a teaser trailer before the "Transformers" movie plays in theatres across the nation. The company is owned by Cloverfield's producer, J.J. Abrams, who is responsible for creating the hit TV series "Alias" and co-creating the very successful series' "Lost" and "Felicity". A jack of many trades, he composed the theme song for "Alias" and co-composed for "Felicity", and he made his directorial debut with "Mission Impossible: 3". Matt Reeves, who has worked with Abrams as co-creator, producer and writer for "Felicity", is the film's director. Drew Goddard, who has written for Abrams in some of his TV dramas, is the writer for this production.

The credits do not tell the title of the film. And like many others, I immediately came home to find out what the heck this was all about. To me, the tempo was like a movie, and I thought that maybe it was the opening of "Transformers". The credits at the end were shown for about one second, and all I could read in time was "Bad Robot Productions", which was already seen at the beginning. Wikipedia tells us that the movie project by Abrams is codenamed "Cloverfield". There are already rumors of this being a Godzilla-like blockbuster, or perhaps a project that will feed off the popularity of "Transformers" and produce something similar.

We do know that is a science fiction film with the monster referred to as "The Parasite". Like it's counterpart, a viral campaign has been released. Following in the footsteps of "Batman: The Dark Knight", a teaser Web site,, has been launched. It shows a still from the camcorder, aptly taken on the same date. Interested viewers hope to solve the puzzle. Look to the stars for help. A blog has been created in protest to show how Ethan Haas is wrong. (Look for something special on August 1.) The videos for the trailer have been taken off YouTube due to a copywright claim by Paramount Pictures Corporation, but it doesn't take too long to google and find the trailer.

This is a brilliant move of precision and timing by Paramount, catching the attention of the same demographic that has brought the highest July 4 single-day gross of $29.1 million to "Transformers". Everyone wants what they can't have.

Update (July 6, 2007): Some news on the mystery casting, budget, and more can be found here.

(Attention: Possible Spoiler. Visuals are much better than written descriptions. Please do not read further, unless you want to read it before you see it.)

The Teaser
The introduction leaves no time to waste, as the Bad Robot Productions treatment is quickly shown (for about 2 seconds). It opens on a surprise going away party for a well-respected guy named Rob who's moving to Japan. Most of the shots are taken with a handheld consumer video camera, much like The Blair Witch Project. A few friends are interviewed to talk about Rob and how they will miss him. A roar is heard in the distance, along with the sound of car alarms. The party of hipsters are concerned and watch the news for any clue of what's going on. The news anchor tells them that many people are calling the newsroom to report of the "thunderous, roaring sound". The party decides to go on the roof to get a better view. A huge explosion occurs from far away, and pieces of the flaming, flying debris come hurling towards them. With a panicked videographer in a rush to save his own life, the shots are also edited to show only bits and pieces. Everyone runs down the stairs, only to see hundreds of New Yorkers running for their lives. An ominous roar erupts from a closer distance, and something is thrown into a building, which then richochets and bounces on the city street, rolling past the camera. It's Lady Liberty's copper head. The credit for J.J. Abrams is shown. Rob tells everyone "it's going to be the best night ever", and the trailer closes with the opening date and credits.

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