Weekender

‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ goes for surprises

A little less than two months ago, the trailer for “10 Cloverfield Lane” dropped quietly into theaters attached to the front of a Michael Bay movie.

To say that it was entirely unexpected would be to imply that there was some basis for expectation to exist, let alone flourish, in the sovereign state known as Fanboy Nation.

This is a populace that prides itself on being in the know, gluttons gorging themselves on a steady diet of press releases, viral marketing campaigns and the occasional TV spot.

If there is a pop cultural event looming somewhere on the distant horizon, these are the folks that already have a spot in line to pop their tent.

And as far as they were concerned “10 Cloverfield Lane” was not opening in two months — because “10 Cloverfield Lane” did not exist.

The official synopsis allows that a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is in a car crash and wakes up in an underground dwelling with the guy who “rescued” her (John Goodman) and his accomplice (John Gallagher Jr.).

She’s told that the outside world has literally gone to hell without her. Whether or she believes that is another story, or then again maybe it’s not.

So much of “10 Cloverfield Lane” is still a mystery, which is an accomplishment.

A distantly related sequel to the 2008 found-footage monster movie “Cloverfield,” the project should have set off Google alerts from here to the Sahara.

It had brand recognition, A-list actors and a golden opportunity to bask in the second-hand buzz of producer J.J. Abrams highly successful “Star Wars” encore.

You have to admire the restraint.

In 2008, the marketing team for Christopher Nolan’s Batman sequel “The Dark Knight” opted to play the long game, allowing images and teasers from the film to trickle out over the course of more than a year.

The marketing itself became an event, a series of small scale premieres leading up to the main attraction. It’s a technique that’s been emulated by many a blockbuster since.

By keeping the promotional push on “10 Cloverfield Lane” short and sweet, Abrams and company are keeping the spotlight squarely on the final product. The hype will live or die in the movie theater.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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