15 years later, people still talk about this trailer. So why aren't more movies doing this? 2 weeks ago

15 years later, people still talk about this trailer. So why aren't more movies doing this?

There is a lot to be said for keeping your cards close to your chest.

What is the primary complaint people have about trailers for movies? They give away everything.

Advertisement

Back in the summer of 2007, audiences sat down for the first Transformers movie, and in front of it ran this trailer:

No official title. No immediately recognisable big name actors or actresses. Not even a good grip on what the plot is about. Just that date. 18 January 2008.

Fifteen years later, we can look back on Cloverfield, and the promotional campaign that led up to that movie's release, and see it for the piece of advertising genius that it was. But at the time, people had no idea what to expect.

Advertisement

This was pre-Masters Of Sex Lizzy Caplan, pre-Silicon Valley T.J. Miller, pre-House Odette Yustman.

It was pre-Planet Of The Apes or The Batman for director Matt Reeves, and writer Drew Goddard had not yet moved on to blockbuster fare like World War Z or The Martian.

The only real recognisable name was J.J. Abrams, who was riding high from Lost at the time, but even then he had only directed one movie - the still under-appreciated Mission: Impossible III - so this was still pre-Star Trek, pre-Star Wars, and for this movie, he was only in the producer's chair.

Off the back of that trailer, and given that no other information had been released, movie fans rushed to fill the vacuum with speculation: Was this a new found-footage Godzilla movie? A modern day Lovecraft adaptation? The live-action Voltron movie? A spin-off from Lost? The American remake of the hit South Korean monster movie The Host?

Advertisement

It would be four more months before another trailer would eventually be released, along with the title of the movie, just two months before the movie was due to hit cinemas.

We got glimpses of a destroyed Statue Of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge being demolished, abandoned parts of Manhattan, mass scenes of mayhem and explosive shoot-outs. How did they manage to make such a massive project and keep it undercover for so long?

Because the movie only cost $25 million to produce.

Advertisement

And the gambit paid off, because it would go on to make over $170 million at the box office.

However, for whatever reason, practically no other movie promotional campaigns have attempted something similar. Instead, time and time again we're greeted with epic length trailers that give away all of the money shots.

It would be the guts of a decade before it happened again, when in 2016 we caught our first look at 10 Cloverfield Lane, a movie nobody had any idea was coming out, and the trailer arrived just two months before the movie did.

Once again, the gambit paid off, as the even smaller budget ($15 million) despite a much more recognisable set of actors, once again led to great profits ($110 million worldwide) at the box office.

Advertisement

However, the less said about 2018's The Cloverfield Paradox... the better.

What we do know is that when movies and mystery work together this well, why don't more big Hollywood movies follow Cloverfield's example and keep us just a little bit more in the dark?

Cloverfield is available to stream on Sky/NOW and Paramount+, 10 Cloverfield Lane is available to rent on Google Play, Apple TV and Rakuten TV, and The Cloverfield Paradox is available to stream on Netflix.