Yesterday, J.J. Abrams announced a Cloverfield sequel was on the way. In fact, it was coming less than two months from now, on March 11. This stunned everybody: Nobody knew this was happening, not even the most plugged-in of Hollywood rumormongers. So how, in an age with bloggers around every corner and Hollywood willing to spill its secrets to websites just to get a few eyeballs, did Abrams hide a sequel to a popular monster movie?
Step 1: Make A Different Movie
10 Cloverfield Lane ditches the central found-footage conceit of Cloverfield, and, more to the point, doesn’t feature swarms of people running through the streets and staging enormous military operations. Instead it was shot quietly in New Orleans and, by all appearances, focuses on just three characters locked in a bunker.
Step 2: Omit Certain Details
To be clear, everybody knew that Abrams was producing a movie under his Bad Robot shingle, directed by Dan Trachtenberg and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman. It was just that they were told it was called Valencia, or The Cellar, and they made it sound like a tiny closed-room thriller. And, as far as we know, that plot description is totally accurate. But it does sort of leave out the monsters.
Step 3: Sit On It
10 Cloverfield Lane has been in the works for quite a while: Principal photography was wrapped before Christmas 2014. Abrams and Trachtenberg have been working on this movie, in secret, for an entire year, letting time pass and other movies draw attention.
Step 4: Don’t Bring It Up
You’ll be hard-pressed to find Abrams discussing what was known as either Valencia or The Cellar anywhere. In fact, it seems that only one site was even interested in discussing it with the cast, who, again, were open with certain details but not others. Of course, Abrams also had one other big advantage….
Step 5: Direct A Star Wars Entry
Hey, it’s pretty easy to keep a secret when all anybody wants to ask you about is this other movie you happen to be directing.
As for the movie itself, it looks exciting, and definitely a step away from what anybody was expecting for a Cloverfield sequel. It’s announcement may be sudden, but that just makes it more exciting.