The Cloverfield Paradox: Cool trick, Netflix — but what’s next?

By on February 15, 2018

Many people likely woke up expecting Super Bowl Sunday to be a historic day, but few probably imagined that would be because of something to do with Netflix. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest entertainment days of the year, and from the game to the commercials there was a lot to be excited about, but I doubt there was anyone outside of the Netflix offices even thinking about the word “Cloverfield.”

Seriously, imagine telling someone the morning of the game: “Yeah, we’re going to see the first look at a new Star Wars movie, but the internet is going to forget that because they’re rushing to stream the new Cloverfield flick.” Ignoring their confusion at the idea of Disney using the Super Bowl to launch Solo: A Star Wars Story — Disney historically doesn’t do a ton of film advertising on Super Bowl Sunday — they’d probably think you were crazy if for no other reason than that it’s not like the Cloverfield franchise is particularly well loved.

But then the teaser for The Cloverfield Paradox dropped in the middle of the game, with the announcement that it was not only coming to Netflix but that it was going to be available after the Super Bowl was over. The reaction was swift, with the movie surging up the trending topics list on Twitter, which is quite the reversal of fortune for a film whose coverage up until that point had largely centered around how no one really knew what was going on with it.

No matter how bad The Cloverfield Paradox may or may not be, there’s no denying that people watched it. (PHOTO: (Scott Garfield / Netflix)

It also meant that suddenly people were having to choose between watching a new Cloverfield movie that had come out of nowhere and finding out how Jack died on This Is Us so that they could make the appropriate reaction video for their Youtube channel.

For most, The Cloverfield Paradox wasn’t a homerun. It’s Rotten Tomato score, as of this writing, sits at 16%, although it’s faired a bit better on IMDB, where it sits with a 5.8/10 score. Fans of the franchise have been a bit kinder to the flick, naturally, a Paramount is still planning to release the fourth film in the series — currently titled Overlord, but assume a name change is coming; I’m putting all my money on Battle: Cloverfield — later this year. One can only wonder how they’ll try to top the release of Paradox, because no matter what they try it won’t be enough.

Ten years from now, people who care about movies might not remember or think about The Cloverfield Paradox itself, but they will remember the Super Bowl spot and the reaction to it. The movie itself isn’t what is important, but the moment is, because in 30 seconds Netflix proved they could take a potential bomb and turn it into event viewing. It’s a stunt that could probably only work once, but it does feel in a way like the entire Hollywood/Netflix relationship has shifted.

Since the beginning, Netflix has needed Hollywood because they can only create so much content on their own. While they have plenty of content to be proud of and a couple that are generating serious money, were they to lose all their non-Netflix originals tomorrow they’d likely see a pretty big drop in their subscriber rate. In the age of binge watching and rewatching, people will only stick around as long as there are things they know they can put on when they get home.

Now Netflix has realized it can offer Hollywood something only few others can: eyeballs. No matter how bad The Cloverfield Paradox may or may not be, there’s no denying that people watched it, and that number is not the same as the number of people who would have spent at least $8 to see it in theater.

If you’re a studio looking at a potential dud, do you really want to go through the trouble and money needed to develop an ad campaign when you can sell it off to Netflix and let it be there problem? If you’re a filmmaker you might frown at this, but hey, at least people are watching your movie, right?

Many thought that Bright, the Will Smith cop meets fantasy movie, was going to be the defining moment of this era for Netflix. After all, they spent a ton of money on producing and promoting the movie, reaching for the brass ring of action movie success. And even though millions watched it and it’s getting a sequel, it feels like something of an afterthought. Think of how many movies Netflix could buy for the cost of a Bright.

More than that, think about next year’s Super Bowl. Think about how Netflix now has you wondering what movie they’re going to drop in secret next. PJH


About Cory Garcia

You must be logged in to post a comment Login