‘Something of an anthology’: J.J. Abrams explains vision for a Cloverfield universe

Producer hopes to frame different film genres through the Cloverfield lens

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 April, 2016, 8:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 April, 2016, 8:00am

Back in January, J.J. Abrams dropped a surprise mystery box onto the lap of an unsuspecting public. The markedly private Bad Robot production company was making another Cloverfield movie. And, surprise twist, the new feature titled 10 Cloverfield Lane would be released in American cinemas in a mere two months.

Little was known about 10 Cloverfield Lane besides the themes alluded to in a cryptic trailer. The three-person cast (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher Jnr) appears to be trapped in a doomsday bunker. Why and how they got there is not known. But the film doesn’t appear to be set in Manhattan and so far no Cloverfield monsters have been revealed. So what does 10 Cloverfield Lane have to do with the 2008 found-footage monster film? According to gatekeeper Abrams, everything and nothing.

The secretive drama isn’t a sequel to Cloverfield but rather an extension of a fictional universe. “We do have a big, fun idea that hopefully will get a shot to realise,” says Abrams. “But in the meantime, I think the easiest way to consider this is that it is something of an anthology. But it’s also something else that we’re playing with. Fingers crossed that we get to execute.”

Asked if what he was trying to create was something in the vein of Twilight Zone or the Amazing Stories series but for film, Abrams says: “It’s an easy way to understand it at the moment, that it’s just a cool anthology. And I think that this film stands alone. I think [the director] Dan Trachtenberg did a terrific job. But it does have a connection to something that we’d love to see through. But certainly the Twilight Zone is one of my favourite shows and if this can be seen in that light, it would be a wonderful comparison.

“Again, it’s sort of an easy way to say it’s an anthology of cool genre films could all fall under the Cloverfield banner. But seeing that this is just the second film, I don’t want to be presumptuous. There is a larger idea that we’re working on that would be really fun if we could see through. Hopefully that can happen, but in the meantime, the Twilight Zone comparison is flattering and hopefully an appropriate one.”

The idea is to take different genres and frame them through a Cloverfield lens. The 2008 film spun the found-footage genre to new heights. Eight years later, Abrams wants to give the Cloverfield touch to new kinds of films.

When pressed to see what type of film Abrams would like to see under the Cloverfield banner, he revealed that he has a vision but wasn’t willing to dive into details. “We do have this larger idea and it is pretty cool. There’s a fun experience, I think, up ahead. But as Cloverfield was just one point on a board and this is sort of another point to kind of begin the trajectory, I think the fun of what could come next is this sort of unexpected but still connected narrative. The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is a little bit more weird than we probably could talk about.”

Los Angeles Times

10 Cloverfield Lane opens on April 14