The ‘Cloverfield Shared Universe’ is now a thing. J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves’ 2008 monster movie got a pseudo-sequel in the shape of 10 Cloverfield Lane last year. And this October it’s getting a threequel thanks to God Particle.
Julius Onah – the director of that film – has been talking about the ‘Cloververse’ as being like a celluloid Twilight Zone, telling Collider: “I think if you can get that off the ground – which they are close – it’s very smart and also great for makers of science fiction.”
He continues: “It’s not a guarantee; the cast is different, we don’t know exactly what we’re getting, but if that stamp of approval of being part of the Cloverfield universe is enough, that’s a huge win. So I’m all for it. When you turn on The Twilight Zone, that’s sort of the way I think about it. I don’t know what this story is going to be, but I know it’s going to be a Twilight Zone story… It’s like an anthology for those kinds of movies, and I think if J.J. – if what he’s doing is positioning himself a little bit to be the Rod Serling of J.J.-type science-fiction movies – more power to him.”
So how did J.J. Abrams and Paramount pull this together? And how does God Particle fit into the narrative? FANDOM has been busy figuring it all out…
The Story So Far
Cloverfield was shrouded in secrecy when it hit screens at the start of 2008. A large-scale found footage flick, it wasn’t until the trailer and poster dropped just before release that audiences realised the film was a riff on Godzilla. And they loved it, with Cloverfield grossing nearly $200m from a budget of just $25m.
Talk immediately turned to a sequel, director Reeves claiming that the potential was huge thanks to the found footage angle, with other movies potentially being made that night, and alternate cameras and phones being able to continue the story.
That film started life as a spec script – by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken – called The Cellar. Paramount purchased the story and J.J. Abrams developed the project, bringing in Dan Trachtenberg to direct.
As production progressed, they realised that the story of a woman having a car crash and waking up in an underground bunker with two men who tell her that the earth’s surface has become uninhabitable could be linked to Cloverfield. The script was tweaked, the ending rewritten to better tie-in with the monster movie, and the title was changed so audiences would know. The resulting film was a hit, and the ‘Cloververse’ was taking shape.
How God Particle Fits Into the Cloververse
Julius Onah wrote God Particle as a spec script before 10 Cloverfield Lane, with the synopsis as follows…
“After a physics experiment with a large hadron accelerator causes the Earth to seemingly vanish completely, the terrified crew of an orbiting American space station is left floating in the middle of now-even-more-empty space. When a European spacecraft appears on their radar, the Americans must determine whether it’s their salvation, or a harbinger of doom.”
Paramount and J.J. Abrams eventually purchased that script, and cast David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, Chris O’Dowd, Ziyi Zhang, and Elizabeth Debicki in the movie. It’s unclear when it joined the shared universe however.
“I don’t know exactly when it became a Cloverfield movie,” Onah told Collider. “But I suspect in this current market where it’s just harder and harder to market an original movie of any kind, a science-fiction movie in particular, but I think everyone just knew if it fits – and it does – into that Cloverfield world, it should, and it can only help.”
As with 10 Cloverfield Lane, Onah re-wrote the script during production to better associate with the ‘Cloververse’, although with God Particle taking place in space rather than on earth, it sounds like the connection will be less obvious than its predecessor.
So it seems the ‘Cloververse’ is less a series of Cloverfield sequels, and more a set of loosely conjoined films, connected as much by tone, style and quality as anything plot-specific. A bit like The Twilight Zone then.
If God Particle is a hit, we predict there will be many more, and if it’s a flop, who knows? Though based on the development of these previous efforts, don’t be surprised if future films are already in the works – and maybe already in production – with J.J. and co simply waiting to spring them on us all.
God Particle hits U.S. screens October 27 and is released in the UK on December 1.