JJ Abrams pulls a sneaky and releases a surprise ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ trailer

JJ Abrams, you sneaky sumbitch.

If reports from around the country are true, then JJ Abrams and Bad Robot managed to sneak a trailer for a film called 10 Cloverfield Lane into theaters in front of the new Michael Bay film 13 Hours tonight.

The first time around with Cloverfield, I stumbled right into the middle of their super-secret trailer release and accidentally gave away the whole game without knowing what I was doing. I didn't really know what the movie was that the trailer was for, and was just intrigued by the idea that the trailer was actually shot before they had made the actual film, and that they had put together this sort of “what the hell is this?” teaser that was designed to just land without any advance warning.

I always felt bad about pulling back the curtain on something that was meant to arrive without any advance warning. Believe it or not, I've never been wired to just ruin surprises for the sake of ruining surprises. I've certainly tried to err on the side of caution in recent years, and there are some filmmakers who have been scooped by me more than enough for one lifetime. Topping that list? JJ Abrams.

So I am delighted to hear the same reports streaming in via social media that the rest of you are hearing. I still don't know what the trailer supposedly shows or who is in it, but this is apparently the same thing as Valencia, the film that Dan Trachtenberg has been working on for Bad Robot. At least, that's the connection made by /Film and considering the friendship between Peter Sciretta and Trachtenberg, I'd say that's pretty close to a confirmation.

If this is the same film, then Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr. are rumored to star. Even more amazingly, it looks like they're aiming for a March 11, 2016 release date for whatever this is. I'm excited to see what Trachtenberg does with this. He's done some very clever work in short films, and he's been poised to make his feature debut for a while now. He shot this film at the end of last year under a pretty heavy veil of secrecy, whatever it is.

Right now, Paramount isn't answering any questions about this, and they've bought themselves at least 12 hours of social media buzz before they're expected to start making official comments.

Now, here's the rub… there's no guarantee that this is in fact a sequel to Cloverfield. All we know is that the title refers to the same street name that was the reason for the original monster movie's title. What if this is a new running joke in these surprise mystery box movies that Abrams produces at Bad Robot? What if this is exactly the small-scale psychological thriller that Valencia was rumored to be and not another giant monster movie at all? Would that be too confusing? Would that just be a playful way for Abrams to connect his work?

As several people have already remarked to me, maybe Cloverfield is just the overall name that will tie together a series of otherwise unrelated fun SF thrillers, like Bad Robot's Twilight Zone. It's fun looking at the insane amount of confusion online about what this trailer is right now, because it won't last too long. And no matter what now, the answer will bum some people out. But for a moment, the mystery box sneak attack worked and people had that momentary feeling of “I have no idea what is going on,” and that's pretty cool.

UPDATED: Paramount sent along the following clarification from JJ Abrams about the film:

“The idea came up a long time ago during production. We wanted to make it a blood relative of Cloverfield. The idea was developed over time. We wanted to hold back the title for as long as possible.”


Someone attended a test screening of the film chimed in with this clarification, which seems to confirm that this is not a direct sequel:



And, yes, nerds, I know that the original Cloverfield trailer played in front of Bay's Transformers. Don't everyone post the same comment at once.

UPDATE #3 – Here's the official release of the trailer! ABOVE AND BELOW!

We'll see what 10 Cloverfield Lane is on March 11, 2016.