J.J. Abrams just pulled off quite a J.J. Abrams move. Movie theaters screening the first shows of 13 Hours on Thursday night were preceded by the trailer for a new Bad Robot/Abrams-produced movie opening in less than two months, with a title no one saw coming: 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Prior to this, the film's existence wasn't a secret in and of itself. Starring John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, it had gone by the title The Cellar and Valencia previously, but Abrams has now put out a statement that seems to indicate it was long meant to be some sort of new Cloverfield film.
“The idea came up a long time ago during production. We wanted to make it a blood relative of Cloverfield. The idea was developed over time. We wanted to hold back the title for as long as possible.”The question now is what exactly "blood relative" means. It doesn't look to be a "sequel" to Cloverfield (and it's not done found footage style), but is it actually set in the same universe as Cloverfield or is the Cloverfield name simply a form of branding Abrams has come up with for an anthology series? The film, back when no one had any idea of the Cloverfield-connection, was said to be about a woman (Winstead) who awakens to find herself being held captive by a man (played by Goodman) in his cellar, who warns her she can't leave due to something horrible happening outside. Why he's doing this is the question and there certainly are ways to connect it to Cloverfield, if that's what's actually the case.
A year ago, I spoke to Winstead about making the movie and she told me, "It was really fun. It was really cool. Me and John Goodman stuck in a bunker together for two months. It was awesome! It was a really intense and really fun shoot. He was such an incredible actor to get to act opposite and he’s so perfect for the part because throughout the whole movie you’re wondering if he’s telling the truth, is he trustworthy, is he a nice guy, is he not a nice guy? And it really goes on a rollercoaster of thinking he’s definitely a horrible guy and then no, he’s just misunderstood. You’re really just on the ride with my character in terms of who she can trust in the scenario and if she’s safer with him or safer escaping and battling whatever war is happening or not happening outside. So it’s a pretty interesting one."
Winstead said she loved making the film, with its confined sets and small cast. "It makes it a really low key vibe when it’s just a couple actors. You feel like you’re almost just going and doing theater every day. It really did feel like theater because it all takes place in one space and it was just us battling one another with words and things. It’s fun. There’s not a lot of movies like that right now, so it was a treat to get to do."
Written by Josh Campbell & Matt Stuecken and Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and directed by Dan Trachtenberg, 10 Cloverfield Lane opens March 11th.