Back in January, many fans were surprised to see the first trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane, attached to prints of Paramount's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, since it was the first we've heard this title. While the title was certainly new, the project itself was not, having gone into development under titles such as Valencia and The Cellar. Now that the movie opened in theaters this weekend, taking in an impressive $25.2 million, new details have surfaced from The Film Stage regarding the original ending. There will be SPOILERS below, so if you haven't seen 10 Cloverfield Lane yet, read on at your own risk.
Shortly after the trailer debuted in January, a new report detailed how this film transformed from Valencia and The Cellar to 10 Cloverfield Lane. The project was put into development several years ago under the Paramount Insurge banner, a specialty division for micro-budget projects that cost under $5 million. The movie was completely shot and finished when the Insurge banner collapsed, and Paramount picked up the project. Writers Daniel Casey and Damien Chazelle performed re-writes so that it would connect to the Cloverfield universe, with reshoots happening in New Orleans last March.
Both the original script by Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken featured the same underlying premise, following a young woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who wakes up in a cellar, after being saved from a car accident by a mysterious man named Howard (John Goodman). Howard tells her that the outside world is now uninhabitable after an alien attack. The ending of the original script, however, is much different, as you can see in an excerpt from The Film Stage's report.
"The movie ends with something out of the farmhouse scene in (Steven) Spielberg's War of the Worlds, with Michelle escaping from Howard and getting outside of the shelter, only to find that aliens have invaded and are hunting people. She must outwit a worm-like attack dog and then do exactly what Tom Cruise did in War of the Worlds, introducing an explosive device into a biological looking orifice on an alien craft to escape from its massive tentacles. Then, after all of this, she embarks to Houston to kick some alien ass, in a 'the battle is over, let's fight the war' kind of ending cribbed from Battle: Los Angeles. In the last shot, flashes of lightning reveal alien ships in the distance, indicating the film-long struggle we just witnessed is comparatively minuscule. In the original script, Michelle escapes the shelter and is chased through the farmhouse by Howard, who still wants to "protect" her. She blinds him with bathroom cleaner, he tells her about his tragic life (dead wife, missing daughter, treacherous Nate, etc.), and then she shoots him in the kneecap and runs away. He ends the movie alive, entreating Michelle to 'be careful.' Later, after traveling down empty roads and finding no one around to help her, she crests a hill and sees the Chicago skyline, smoldering and destroyed. No explanation is given. We don't even know what she will do next, only that she now knows that Howard, for all his oddity, was correct. The final line in the script is, 'She slowly pulls down the mask on the hazmat suit before taking a breath.'"
J.J. Abrams, who produces the movie through his Bad Robot company, said they came up with the idea a long time ago to make The Cellar into part of the Cloverfield universe, adding that it isn't a sequel but a "blood relative" of the original 2008 movie, which was directed by Matt Reeves. Dan Trachtenberg, who made his feature directorial debut with 10 Cloverfield Lane after making a popular Portal fan film, revealed in an interview with /Film that the reshoots didn't happen to make it fit into the Cloverfield universe, despite reports to the contrary.
"No, the movie you watch today is very much the movie that I read when I first read the script. The only things that I wanted to do when I came on board was, the script was very intense but I thought it could use some levity. I thought if we could laugh with these characters we would be more bonded to them so when bad stuff would happen it would matter more. And we adjusted some of Michelle's story, the personal part where she talks about where she is headed to. But the beginning middle and end of it was all there in the first script that I read."
Paramount didn't release a production budget for 10 Cloverfield Lane, but since the movie originated at the studio's micro-budget division, it's probably safe to assume the budget wasn't terribly high. Producer J.J. Abrams has also teased that they are also developing Cloverfield 3, which could tie in the stories from both 10 Cloverfield Lane and the original Cloverfield together. What do you think about the original ending for 10 Cloverfield Lane?