monster-cloverfield

Where will we see the next Cloverfield movie? It might be going to Netflix, rather than getting a theatrical release (which was originally scheduled for April 20).

As The Comeback’s Sean Keeley noted last week, it’s been 10 years since Cloverfield rode a mysterious marketing campaign — and the rampant fan theorizing and speculation it spawned — into theaters. The film was a solid hit and may ultimately be more known from the talent that moved on from the film to bigger and better things, such as producer J.J. Abrams, director Matt Reeves, writer Drew Goddard and actress Lizzy Caplan.

Eight years later, the Cloverfield anthology continued with a sequel that didn’t directly tie in to the first film, but supposedly took place within the same universe. But if that wasn’t clear from the movie itself (which was a better effort overall), the title 10 Cloverfield Lane spelled it out for you.

Though the second Cloverfield movie earned less at the box office ($110.2 million to Cloverfield‘s $170.8), it also cost less to make ($15 million vs. $25 million). That kind of success, along with Abrams’ brand attached to it, meant that a third film in the anthology was a virtual certainty.

The third movie, once titled “God Particle,” was tweaked to fit into Cloverfield universe. It also had the title of “Cloverfield Station,” though that no longer appears to be the case. Starring David Oyelowo (Selma), Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy), Daniel Bruhl (The Alienist) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights), the story takes place on a space station where a team of astronauts conduct an experiment with a particle accelerator that makes Earth disappear.

As you might guess from that description — notably its deeper, more established cast — this movie was more expensive to produce than the previous two Cloverfield films. Just because it’s set in space doesn’t mean that we see anything more than the space station where the characters reside, but there are presumably more special effects (though the first two movies involved creature effects in limited screen time) involved that increased the budget of the film.

The production cost $40 million, nearly twice what the original Cloverfield did. Getting away from a successful financial model, the movie reportedly needing some work (according to The Hollywood Reporter, and Abrams unable to devote much time to the project because of his commitment to directing Star Wars: Episode IX apparently has Paramount looking to cut its losses.

The studio is already having difficulty with another lower-budget sci-fi film, Annihilation. Starring Natalie Portman and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina), the movie is set for a Feb. 23 theatrical release. But the final product has caused some disagreement among producers and will be released internationally on Netflix rather than in theaters — which will obviously affect its box office.

Paramount is under new leadership with chairman Jim Gianopulos and the studio’s entire film slate is reportedly being re-evaluated for which projects warrant a theatrical release. Additionally, Paramount now has to shake off the embarrassment of being the only major studio not to earn an Oscar nomination this year — the first time that’s happened to a major Hollywood player since 2003.

Issues with Annihilation and the third Cloverfield film also raises the question of what the current market is for mid-range sci-fi movies. Is there a place for them or is Hollywood only interested in big blockbuster properties for genre projects? (That’s no guarantee either, considering the disappointing box office performance of Blade Runner 2049 and Life last year.) Maybe the success Netflix has claimed for Bright (which reportedly cost $90 million) has made it a safe, viable home for sci-fi and fantasy films in the future.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is an editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has covered baseball for Yahoo! Sports, MLive.com, Bleacher Report and SB Nation, and provides analysis for several sports talk radio shows each week. He currently lives in Asheville, NC.