Last week, I was in a movie theater waiting for Transformers to start when what appeared to be another one of those annoying cell phone or soft drink commercials that run before movies started. But to my -- and apparently everyone else’s surprise -- this was no commercial. Turns out it was a trailer and the first phase of a marketing effort for Lost creator J.J. Abrams’ new movie project, which is currently being called "Cloverfield" around the Web.
The trailer portrays a going away party for someone in New York City when the ground starts to shake and off in the distance an explosion ends up hurling the face of the Statue of Liberty down the street the party is being held on. It’s all shot with a herky jerky home video feel, which adds to the hysteria onscreen. At some point the qwords “From J.J. Abrams” flash on the screen and it ends with the date 1-18-08. The day after it debuted on July 4th the movie’s creators started to generating even more online buzz by launching a number of sites including EthanHaaswaswrong.blogspot.com, EthanHaaswasright.com, and 1-18-08.com. Apple has begun running the trailer on its site as well. Since its debut people have been speculating what the movie is about and have taken to breaking the trailer down for clues-much like the way people watch Lost.
The trailer had no noticeable actors, but with a Blair Witch-type home video camera style and better action and more suspense than just about every other movie I’ve seen this summer, the trailer did its job in getting me interested and looking forward to 1-18-08. And based on the amount of buzz and coverage it’s generating from the mainstream media, and online from bloggers and movie geeks it looks as if the people behind “Cloverfield” have successfully launched the first phase of their marketing campaign.
A while back another movie took a similar approach and managed to build a lot of pre-launch buzz on the Web. Unfortunately that movie was so bad it’s only remembered for that marketing promotion and not what it did in the theaters. Let’s hope that “Cloverfield” turns out to be a better film than Snakes on a Plane. From what I’ve seen so far, it already looks like it will be better.