When I revealed the title of Cloverfield and ran an early description of the trailer, I got a lot of attention from my friends at Paramount*. I also got a lot of attention from the people playing the ‘Alternate Reality Game’ for Cloverfield – ie, the poor dumb bastards spending more time going through clues in the viral marketing than the viral marketers spent working on it. There were some particularly great threads on a site called unfiction where the dipshits who have defined their sad reality through this ‘game’ spent pages dissecting me and my trailer description. Of course it turns out I was right and these people still have Cheeto dust on their lips.
Now Peter at Slashfilm is reporting that these ARG enthusiasts may be even sadder than previously thought – his sources tell him that Slusho, long believed to be a cornerstone of the Cloverfield viral marketing, has nothing to do with the film after all. There’s no Slusho in Cloverfield.
I do have to admit that I don’t 100% understand what the Slusho thing is about – I believe Peter’s sources, who have seen the movie, but there’s no denying that Slusho is part of the film’s marketing. I have received Slusho video comments on my MySpace page from Paramount PR types working on Cloverfield. Slusho shirts were handed out at ComicCon in conjunction with the Cloverfield presentation. Slashfilm speculates that Slusho is part of another JJ Abrams project (he has 1400 of them brewing at Paramount) but that still doesn’t make sense given the context. All I can assume is that this aspect of the viral marketing is just a little injoke that has been blown way out of proportion. Everything about this movie seems blown out of proportion – remember when everybody was speculating like mad about the title of the thing and it ended up being the ‘code word’ we’d all been using for months anyway?
My first experience with an Alternate Reality Game came when I saw a preview screening of AI. The theater was packed with people who had won tickets by participating in that film’s ARG, which was a murder mystery. When I came out of that movie I noticed that all the ARG players seemed to really hate it, and not for the usual ‘It should have ended underwater’ reason that no-brains give on the internet: the movie had nothing to do with the ARG. The game was a satisfying and fun experience for them but one utterly removed from the world of the film. Could that be the same situation with Cloverfield?
*I was on the lot seeing Margot at the Wedding on the very same night (in the very same building) that Cloverfield was being shown for the first time to anyone. Waiting for Margot to start I got a phone call from one of my favorite PR reps: ‘Why are you on the lot!?’ When I checked in at the front gate my name must have triggered some alarm somewhere. I thought it was pretty damn funny. Later my rep wouldn’t believe that, given a choice between seeing Margot and sneaking into Cloverfield, I would choose Margot every time.