Dear Cloverfield Marketing Geniuses And Those Under Their Spell,
Greetings from my tiny temporary abode in Los Angeles, where I have a view of the houses nestled in the hills to my right, and houses crammed in the ground to my left. It's been awhile since I've done one of these Open Letter deals, so pardon the flakes of rust you might see within these words.
Despite my vitriol for the upcoming Cloverfield, I do not call the marketing people behind it geniuses sarcastically. If there was an Oscar, a Pulitzer or even a frickin' Nobel Prize for marketing, everyone involved with the Cloverfield campaign would deserve one, hands down. Sheer, mind-boggling brilliance. Bravo, marketing folk. Bravo, indeed.
Almost anything that can be classified as brilliant, must usually be classified as ballsy as well, and those Cloverfield marketing folks fired one of the ballsiest opening salvo's in movie marketing history. Ah yes. I remember it well...
It was a balmy July evening whence many southeastern Minnesotans and I piled into a theater to see what we all knew would be a blockbuster: Transformers. Most of you who saw that glorious spectacle will likely only remember one trailer they saw that night. I know I do. It was an odd, trippy little trailer with a prodco logo even I hadn't been familiar with. We saw a lot of shaky, The Blair Witch-y footage capped off with a big ruckus in the streets and Lady Liberty's head bouncing down the street like it was a basketball. When it was all said and done, the only thing we got aside from this odd footage was that Bad Robot logo, J.J. Abrams' name (with "From Executive Producer" just barely visible... or memorable) and the cryptic date 1-18-08. No title whatsoever. Amazing. Who'd have the balls to do any sort of trailer and not even put the damn title up? An AC/DC song comes to mind...
I really should've known from the Snakes on a Plane teaser the summer previous, but I figured no one would really give a flying shit about this amateur-ish project that J.J. Abrams somehow seemed fit to exec produce that didn't even have a TITLE for the TRAILER. Oh, how I was wrong.
While most of the talk around my proverbial little water cooler of friends was the movie itself, I was surprised at how many people were taken in by this marketing gimmick. As the resident movie maven, I was summoned upon quite frequently if I had any knowledge of what this "1-18-08" flick was about. Naturally, I had none. I was as befuddled as the rest, but not nearly as interested. I thought that the gimmick would fade, and that people would stop caring... but after so many strategically-placed moves, you brave marketing folk have managed to keep enough of the nation suspended, hell, hypnotized it seems, to the tune of this little movie for SIX MONTHS with a writer and director who've done practically nothing that wasn't under Abrams' wing, and a cast that's done even less. I wonder how many people will be surprised on Friday when they DON'T see J.J. Abrams name under Director...
I personally think this film will blow donkey chunks. It looks like an re-hashed urbanized sort of The Blair Witch Project but with a lot more people trapped in a city except in some stupid woods. We barely have any clue what this thing is really about. We just know that some monster attacks New York City and the monster is supposedly called Cloverfield and blah blah blah. Even the people I ask about it, the fervent fans like even my own brother (sorry bro but I had to do it...) can't even really explain why they're looking forward to this thing so much. Hypnosis, I'm telling you.
It seems even some of us here at MovieWeb were under the spell because, not too long ago, after a rash of questionable Cloverfield stories were thrown up on the site, we all received an email from Headmaster BB that there were to be no more Cloverfield stories without his approval. I can't tell you how happy I was to receive that email because I was, and still am, just plain God-damn tired of hearing about this movie!
I can't wait until Friday night, not so I can rush out to see this, but because the Cloverfield phenomena will, hopefully, be over. This will probably break the decade-long January box office record held by the re-release of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, and I'm guessing it'll nab close to $50 million. I'm also hoping it nosedives the weekend after and drops like 75% or something and skids into oblivion just like that gigantic head of the Statue of Liberty in the teaser that started this whole mess.
Will I see Cloverfield in the theater? Sure I will. I've seen enough bad movies in my day I'm sure I could stomach another. Honestly, though, I actually would like to see this on opening weekend, to see how the crowds react after so long of a wait, and, really, I wouldn't mind being proven wrong. The early reviews are fairly positive, but who knows if they hypnotize easily as well. I have heard that our own B. Alan Orange hated the flick, though, and that can't be good news.
If I do actually enjoy the Cloverfield spectacle, I'll write a theatrical review myself, something I haven't done in centuries it seems, and, hell, I'll even link this Open Letter to that review. I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong, but riddle me this: if the damn thing was so great to begin with, why go through all this maniacal marketing mayhem in the first place?
Peace in. Gallagher out!
P.S. The title Cloverfield is actually a reference to the boulevard in Santa Monica where the Bad Robot offices were for this film's production. Chew on that for awhile...