You probably know me as the guy who saw the Cloverfield trailer early
and who leaked the final name of the movie. You may also know me as a
guy who has been highly skeptical of that same movie, especially of the
viral marketing, which I found annoying, stupid and overbaked*. I write
this letter for two reasons: to eat some crow and offer my apologies
for my skepticism and to ask you to pledge to not make a sequel to
Cloverfield is a good movie, JJ. Drew Goddard and Matt Reeves did
strong work here. I have my problems with the film, and when the
embargo on reviews is lifted on Friday I’ll detail some of them, but
over all you guys made a good movie. It’s going to be huge, by the way;
I know your tracking is telling you that but I wonder if it’s going to
be bigger than the tracking indicates. This movie is going to set opening weekend
in January records that will remain untouched for a long, long time.
And while I didn’t have a geekgasm like Harry Knowles did, I think this
is a movie that deserves to do well. You guys pulled it off, and as
someone who had no faith in the project at all, I’m impressed. I may
start approaching Star Trek with a more open mind after this one.
Now on to the second part of this letter: you must promise to never make a sequel to this movie.
This next part may be a spoiler, so people who are peering in on our
correspondence should be aware that I will be giving away one minor
aspect of the movie, which I do not think will affect their enjoyment
of it at all.
One of the things that you guys did most right in Cloverfield is that
you never explained where the monster came from. You have the character
of Hud give a range of theories, but you never give any answers, and
you never give enough context to even let us make an informed guess. I
love that. I love that the monster’s origins, abilities, name,
weaknesses, and favorite color are never divulged. It’s part of what
makes this movie a little bit special, and more than a little bit
different. But in a sequel you will have no option but to explore the
monster’s origins. Unless you make the exact same movie again, but with
different characters, there is almost no way to avoid delving a little
deeper into the monster and what makes it tick.
Of course this movie will always stand on its own; technically you
could make six more Cloverfields and have the last one be from the POV
of the monster as it gets jilted at the prom, leading to the big
attack, and this first movie would still exist without a frame being
changed. But you understand how what comes later does change what came
before. In popular entertainment there’s a reverse causality effect,
and something that was good can be turned into something that is bad by
improper handling of sequels and spin-offs. It’s too easy to cheapen
things, and the aspects of Cloverfield that make it one of the coolest
movies I’ve seen in some time would be drastically cheapened by a
sequel that sheds even the teeniest ray of light on the monster. Leave
it as it is.
Again, I’ll be reviewing the film in full on Friday, and I hope you
come by to read what I have to say. I do understand if you don’t – all
of that money you’re making from this film will not be spending itself,
after all – but take my plea to heart, and listen to the inherent
wisdom. Shock the world on Monday, JJ. Even after Cloverfield opens to
numbers unimagined for a January release, announce to Variety that this
is all there is, that there won’t be a trilogy or a TV show or a MMORPG
or a series of tie-in books. Leave it be. You guys got it right the
Your word eating pal
*The quality of the film in no way invalidates my opinion on the
marketing, by the way. This is the kind of movie that would be amazing
to discover, and the core audience never had that chance.