One of the more interesting surprises from last night’s Super Bowl commercials was the ad for Cloverfield 3, a film called The Cloverfield Paradox.
It wasn’t just the first time we saw a trailer for it.
No – it was that Netflix announced that the movie would be available for streaming immediately following the Super Bowl.
It’s nearly unprecedented for a major release to receive no publicity lead time.
The secret was even more of a shock because The Cloverfield Paradox was initially slated to be released theatrically by Paramount on April 20.
Each of the other two Cloverfield films received theatrical releases.
Given executive producer JJ Abrams’ clout in Hollywood, there was little reason to believe this one would be any different.
But no – Netflix went ahead and pushed up the release date by more than two months, and told no one about it.
10 Cloverfield Lane
In terms of other recent film surprises?
Sure, there was 10 Cloverfield Lane, a psychological thriller starring John Goodman that looked like a decent horror film in its own right…
Right up until the trailer’s title card, which delighted thousands by announcing it was connected to the original Cloverfield movie.
And then there was Split – the multiple personality serial killer by M. Night Shyamalan.
The film easily stood on its own (and make an astounding $138 million vs. on its $9 million budget).
But once released, a surprise cameo by Bruce Willis in the final scene announced it was also a backdoor sequel to Shyamalan’s 2000 movie Unbreakable.
Netflix continues to surprise by experimenting with its original content.
The studio that recently spent $90 million on the Will Smith cop thriller Bright has now acquired another movie that even three years ago would have seen a theatrical release.
And marketed it brilliantly — but (paradoxically – heh!) not marketing it.
As TechRadar put it:
This is a huge sea change for the movie world, upturning the regular build-up of marketing, the trailer tease after trailer tease and the inevitable talk show promotional surge everyone goes on when a big movie was released.
The lesson here?
Traditional Hollywood studios should underestimate Netflix at their peril.