Was Netflix Trying To Bury “The Cloverfield Paradox” By Releasing It So Quickly?

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Netflix)

In the aftermath of post-Superbowl excitement, the world still hasn’t really had time to process the big reveal of “The Cloverfield Paradox”.

This movie had been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning – all the better to maintain the constant weird hype train that JJ Abrams loves to rely on to market his projects.

All of the “Cloverfield” movies have had odd promotional periods, from the vague trailers for the original “Cloverfield”, to the sudden, unexpected reveal that a sort-of sequel had been made in complete secrecy.

With “The Cloverfield Paradox”, we knew that this movie was coming, but we didn’t know exactly when. Lengthy delays had suggested that it wouldn’t be with us for a while, and then there were rumors that Netflix was going to purchase its distribution rights.

And then, suddenly, without warning, the movie dropped. On the biggest entertainment day of the year. Millions tuned in to watch the Superbowl, and were then told to turn off their TVs afterwards to go watch a weird sci-fi horror movie on their iPads (or, alternatively, on their TVs, if they haven’t yet discovered the joys of Netflix and post-game Chill in bed).

This was a risky move, and we’ll probably never know just how well it panned out for Netflix. The streaming service is unlikely to release viewing figures, so we’ll have to rely on guesswork to figure out how many people have rushed to watch “The Cloverfield Paradox” regardless of whether or not they were engrossed in the Superbowl.

Traditionally, though, moves like this haven’t gone down well. The sudden surprise often catches media outlets by surprise, meaning that there’s not enough time to cover it before the story becomes old news.

Certainly, with so many trailers hitting the internet during the Superbowl, and with these also competing with actual coverage of the game, it’s hard to imagine that a “Cloverfield” movie wouldn’t just get lost in the crowd.

Perhaps Netflix is hoping to “win” the Superbowl by being the most memorable thing about the event. Perhaps the hope is that when people think of the most recent Superbowl, they’ll think of streaming giants dropping big budget movies for free with no warning.

If that’s the plan, Netflix is losing out to a kid on his smartphone. The meme of the Superbowl has nothing to do with a JJ Abrams-produced movie that nobody knew was coming.

Cloverfield Paradox
Source: Netflix

This feels a little like the time that video game company Sega turned up at a big expo in order to announce that, surprise, their new games console, the Saturn, was to be released that very day.

Nobody knew what to expect, and ultimately, nobody cared, because at almost exactly the same time, Sony had just announced the PlayStation.

There’s a reason you’ve probably never heard of the Sega Saturn, and there’s a reason why “The Cloverfield Paradox” could easily disappear from people’s memories forever.

But, then, the film is essentially free. People can go watch it right now, and if they already have a Netflix subscription (who doesn’t?), the only cost will be a couple of hours of their time.

That said, if Netflix is hoping for a triumphant release day, they probably shouldn’t have picked a moment when half the country is either drunk or hungover (or both).

Of course, it’s entirely possible that this was the plan all along.

Critics are not being kind to “The Cloverfield Paradox”. The movie is getting eviscerated by both fans of the series, and by professional reviewers. Apparently, simply put, it’s just not that good.

The Cloverfield Paradox Netflix
Source: Netflix

So, imagine for a second that you’re Netflix, and you’ve just bought the rights to a film that, as it turns out, is pure garbage.

You’re after building up a solid brand, but no matter what you do, you can’t get a hit movie. “Okja” was never going to set the world ablaze, “Bright” is downright terrible, and now, “The Cloverfield Paradox”, your ace in the hole, has turned out to be a disappointment as well.

Perhaps the best thing that can be done is to bury the movie. Release it in a big showy spectacle when nobody is expecting it, so that people will associate wacky stunts with Netflix, rather than getting hung up on the terrible movie that the streaming giant has released.

Thanks to an overabundance of other media content, fewer people will bother to see “The Cloverfield Paradox”, and Netflix might be spared some embarrassment.

It’s not definite that this is the strategy at play here.

Considering how badly the movie is faring with viewers, though, it does seem a little like Netflix doesn’t actually want you to see “The Cloverfield Paradox” after all.