The Cloverfield franchise may have been dormant for the past few years, but like the titular creature, it will rise again when you least expect it. That’s the fun of this sci-fi horror franchise, which first made its name as a viral hit in 2008 before expanding into a larger universe of stories involving aliens and alternate dimensions. You never know when a new installment might drop.
Such is the case with Cloverfield 4, which, as is tradition in this series, is shrouded in mystery. What we know for sure is that it’s being penned by British screenwriter Joe Barton (The Ritual, The Lazarus Project) and will be directed by Babak Anvari (Under the Shadow). Unlike the other sequels, 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Cloverfield Paradox, which began life as completely unrelated standalone scripts before being rewritten and integrated into the Cloverfield franchise, Cloverfield 4 is being developed specifically for the franchise.
“Ours is more a true sequel than I think what happened with 10 Cloverfield Lane and with Cloverfield Paradox. I think they were existing scripts that were retconned,” Barton explained to Den of Geek when we caught up with him last year. “We’ve started out being like, let’s write a Cloverfield sequel. So it’s about the first Cloverfield movie and then ours. And it’s following on.”
While it’s a true continuation of Matt Reeves’ original monster movie, Cloverfield 4 won’t be a found footage film dressed up as a “real account” of an alien kaiju invasion. That’s not to say you won’t see some of the same marketing shenanigans that made the first movie such an internet phenomenon. In fact, the promotional campaign for Cloverfield 4 has already begun and you might not have even noticed. Slusho.com, a tie-in website for a fictional drink associated with the original film, has suspiciously reappeared after first being used as part of an augmented reality game meant to send internet sleuths on a hunt for clues about the 2008 film. Its return is very likely just the first of the many unconventional ways this sequel will be marketed ahead of a presumably surprise release.
But the Cloverfield franchise will face an uphill battle this time around. While 10 Cloverfield Lane, was lauded for taking the franchise in a brave new direction akin to a Twilight Zone-esque anthology series, the Netflix threequel follow-up, the space-set Cloverfield Paradox, was criticized for trying to do a bit too much. That latter film not only introduced a parallel universe and other cosmic threats but also tried to tie back into the original film as a kind of pseudo-sequel. To put it plainly, Paradox was a convoluted mess that left the series mythology in disarray. Why did the anthology format introduced in 10 Cloverfield Lane need an in-universe explanation in the first place?
It’ll be interesting to see how Cloverfield 4 addresses (or circumvents) the events of Paradox. That said, this isn’t the first time the team behind the Cloverfield franchise, which includes J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company, has tinkered with the idea of a dedicated sequel to the original.
“Doing a direct sequel was something that we initially … I did something in the movie when Hud is on the bridge before the tail comes and smashes the Brooklyn Bridge in half. There’s a moment where you actually see someone filming him and you realize, ‘Oh, there’s another perspective on this evening,'” Reeves told THR earlier this year while discussing the film’s 15th anniversary. “So that was one of my thoughts for what could be the beginning of another story. It’d be another story of people surviving this night, and so we talked about all those things. We all had ideas, and we just didn’t line up again.”
Whether the idea of a second group of survivors has stuck around 15 years later remains to be seen, but Reeves himself shared his own thoughts about what he’d want a fourth Cloverfield film to be about if he were making it in a post-Covid world.
“There’s no question it would be a viral movie, right? It would be about a virus,” Reeves told Syfy.
“There have been some really scary [viral thrillers]. Contagion is certainly really scary … There would be a scary [Cloverfield] movie to do for sure about the spread of the virus.”
But ultimately, whatever Anvari and Barton are cooking up for Cloverfield 4 is anybody’s guess. Reeves, who remains involved with the franchise as a producer, has also confirmed to THR that we won’t hear much more about the movie until it’s out.
“I can’t ever say … what we’re doing because it’s Cloverfield and Cloverfield rules are that you don’t talk about Cloverfield,” Reeves says. “The thing about Cloverfield from the beginning was it was always so surprising the way it came together, and I hope that it continues to be surprising.”
Cloverfield 4 doesn’t currently have a release date.