The Super Bowl Sunday release of The Cloverfield Paradox took everyone by surprise, in part because its very existence had been in question up until the first trailer dropped. But its mostly unheralded arrival isn’t necessarily a sign of a lack of confidence from the streaming platform, which reportedly paid more than $50 million to snatch up Julius Onah’s film before it could hit theaters.
This comes from The Hollywood Reporter, whose sources indicate the move was kind of a Hail Mary on the part of Paramount and Cloverfield creator/producer J.J. Abrams. Apparently, Paramount chairman-CEO Jim Gianopulos was “worried” after the film wrapped production in 2016; the film was “ultimately deemed unsalvageable,” despite tweaking “character beats” and strengthening its connection to its predecessors. So, the studio headed off a weak showing at the box office by skipping it entirely and letting Netflix release the movie. As a marketing stunt, it was a coup for Netflix—one source tells THR that the company “still got a brand jolt,” whether or not it actually sees a return on its investment.
Netflix also acquired the rights to Alex Garland’s Annihilation, which will have its streaming debut on February 23.