I saw Cloverfield the night before it was released at a funky promotional screening in South Miami. I'd had a general idea about the story (but not the beats), followed the viral stuff, and wrote about it twice: here and here.
Like most marketers, I admired the mix of "real" and "fake" websites, "clues" and other atmospherics. It was all quite engaging, and had piqued my interest to the extent that I HAD to see this movie, even though I scrupulously avoid gory monster movies and sadistic slasher flicks.
I enjoyed Cloverfield quite a bit. It was a lot of fun. But I think they blew it.
Not the film. The marketing.
In the days following its release, the term Cloverfield was among the most popular search terms on the Net. And new sites popped up overnight with speculation and sound clips about the story — the ending, in particular and the post-credit "dialog."
Some goof-ball even posted the last 8 minutes or so of the film on YouTube, shot from his phone (no doubt), replete with commentary and ambient sound (ha!) from the audience. Of course, it was quickly removed from YouTube
Interestingly, all that the viral stuff — and the resulting back-story — was completely unnecessary to the film.
But the opportunity to continue the game and keep people on the hook was wasted.
But then, nothing.
Other fan sites were buzzing, but where was Paramount, the studio responsible for Cloverfield, and producer JJ Abrams and his Bad Robot production posse?Mostly, it would seem, giving interviews to MSM outlets rather than extending the viral campaign. (They're all over the web, in print and on the air, so no links are needed from me!)
I'm baffled, frankly. The back-story, despite being mostly superfluous to the film, is still a fertile and sticky area for fan engagement.
And it looks like the second weekend grosses for the film have dropped by as much as 68% according to one report. So, keeping people engaged would have been a very good idea. It wouldn't have hurt, anyway, and might have encouraged a second (or third visit) from that first wave of ticket buyers. And I'm sure there will be at least one DVD release, too, though I expect several.
Kudos to JJ, Paramount and everybody else involved in the unprecedented multmedia marketing campaign. Great job!
But why go to all that effort and not keep it going?
Is it over yet? I don't think so...
Monday night update
According to Variety, Paramount expected the box office decline, referring to it as a "correction."