'Cloverfield' A.K.A. '1-18-08' could be the next Snakes on a Plane

by Paul William Tenny

cloverfield.jpgThe title really says it all, doesn't it? Not giving a title to the film really is kind of a silly way to tease the audience. Think about it, even if we knew what the title of the film is, what would that tell us about the content? J. J. Abrams could come out in the next five minutes and announce that his new film is called "City of Doom" and we'd know nothing more than before. Obviously, from the trailers, it appears to be just another rehashing of Godzilla. Do we need another one of these, especially after the horrible film Dean Devlin made?

I was right there with everyone else thinking that Snakes on a Plane was going to be the next big thing. It was going to make everyone remotely attached to the film extremely rich, and there'd be dozens of sequels. Josh Friedman recounted his tale of having an opportunity to come on board to rewrite the script, and passing it up. In the midst of the pre-release hype and frenzy, he obviously wasn't happy about passing on what at first glance looked like a real loser.
Turns out the man was right. This film, much like my good man Gov. Howard Dean, turned out to be all hype and game. Snakes crashed and burned at the theater, while everyone cheered and opined on the trailers, and basked in the glory of Samuel 'Jesus' Jackson, nobody actually bothered to go see it in a theater. That's the problem with hype, isn't it?

Noun: hype; 1. Blatant or sensational promotion.

That sounds about right, all bark and no bite, which perfectly describes Cloverfield/1-18-08. My first beef, by the way, is that 1-18-08 is not a valid ISO-8601 date. The proper format would be 2008-01-18, which I guess is insanely boring. But damn you, that's not a valid date. Why does Abrams always have to do strange things? Invalid dates, polar bears on tropical islands, movies with no title...what the hell?

Why am I ranting about all of this? Two reasons. First, a post on rottentomatoes.com says that a lawyer who typically handles business for Abrams production company recently registered a trademark for the name "Overnight", giving rise to speculation that Overnight will be the proper title for Cloverfield/1-18-08. Never mind the fact that in general, movie titles can't be trademarked, especially single words that have an every day use in popular lexicon. As an example, there are no fewer than three other films with that title, one of them from this year already that has nothing to do with this film.

Second, in that post, I see again lots of praise being heaped on Abrams for his oh so brilliant marketing strategy of not telling anyone the title of his film, and apparently pioneering the idea of releasing trailers in the Internet. See what I'm talking about here? There's no evidence that this film is going to be any good, precisely because we know nothing about it. That is certainly going to keep many people from going to see the movie in the first place, and all it does is make people like me speculate that perhaps the marketing strategy, as was the case with Snakes on a Plane, was more entertaining than the film itself.

At least, it's something to consider.


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