One moment you're signing on for an original sci-fi flick called God Particle, and the next you find yourself in the top-secret third entry in the Cloverfield franchise.
Welcome to Hollywood 2018.
In a Facebook Live Q&A, the stars of The Cloverfield Paradox, David Oyelewo and Roger Davies, revealed they didn't even learn of the film's title until they got a phone call from producer J.J. Abrams and director Julius Onah mere hours before the trailer debuted during last Sunday's Super Bowl and the film's subsequent premiere on Netflix.
"We found out the title on that phone call, we found out there was going to be two Super Bowl trailers on that phone call and the fact that it was going to be on that night," added Oyelowo. "Those are all things that normally take place over six months, maybe a year, before a film of this nature comes out. So there was definitely something exciting about it."
Of course, as fanboys know, there was nary a word about a new Cloverfield flick in production -- neither a casting announcement, a poster, or even leaks from the set that typically find their way to social media.
That's because Abrams, the series' mastermind, pulled yet another viral marketing stunt out of his bag of Bad Robot tricks, as he did with Paradox's predecessor, 10 Cloverfield Lane – only this time he and his team sought to one-up themselves.
Unlike Cloverfield Lane, which was released theatrically, the mega-producer and Paramount, the studio that backed the film, initiated secret talks with Netflix to take over distribution so Paradox could literally own the record for the fastest release in history from the moment the trailer debuted to the movie's premiere.
"We were literally trying to figure out what was the most fun way to release the movie," said Abrams during the Facebook Q&A. "In six to eight weeks, this thing went from 'I wonder if we can do this to people' to 'we were doing it, it was on.'"
The Cloverfield Paradox was reworked from an original script called God Particle, and is only tangentially connected to the original 2008 Cloverfield, which was a found-footage monster flick. Dan Trachtenberg's 10 Cloverfield Lane was a psychological horror film and a spiritual sequel of sorts, as most of the action took place in a bunker with an alien creature prowling around above ground. In the case of Paradox, the horror is something that exists in another dimension that astronauts usher into theirs, thanks to particle accelerator experiments aboard a space station.
"I love the idea that we can play with different genres … the intention was a fun, pulpy space melodrama," added Abrams, who said he enjoyed the idea of playing in different genres and giving diverse directors a chance to express themselves in new ways.
When asked about a crossover film potentially tying the three Cloverfield installments together, Abrams acknowledged bandying around the idea.
“We’ve talked about versions of things. When we did 10 Cloverfield Lane, we were thinking Michelle – the character Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays – it’s such a sort of weird origin story of this kind of incredibly, I think, awesome heroine," said the Star Wars helmer. "The idea of following her story is really cool. And then at one point, we were like, ‘You know what would be really cool? What if they crossed paths with Gugu [Mbatha-Raw]’s character Ava?’ You start to think of ‘what ifs.’ And I think the bigger ideas that we’ve had about where this thing goes haven’t necessarily been those ideas, but they’ve kind of been fun theoretical offshoots."
As for what's next, Abrams said whatever genre they end up exploring next (how about a western?), he hopes it takes the audience on another "crazy" roller coaster ride. Perhaps he'll let the cast in on the fun a little sooner next time, though.