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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #4!

The Scannain podcast is back, baby!

Discussing the latest in film news here and abroad, the Scannain podcast is a weekly podcast discussion of what we watched, what we talked about, what is dominating and the box office, and what is lurking on the horizon film-wise. This week we discussed everything from Paul Thomas Anderson to P.T. Barnum, the launch of The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix and the evolution of “direct-to-video” schlock.

I’m thrilled to be part of a panel including Niall Murphy and Stacy Grouden. Give it a listen below.

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Non-Review Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

The Cloverfield Paradox is important. It’s just not very good.

The Cloverfield Paradox is a movie that seems destined to be overshadowed by the circumstances of its release. The Cloverfield Paradadox is one of several films that Netflix harvested from the increasingly beleaguered Paramount Pictures. Netflix will be handling the international distribution of Annihilation and picked up The Irishman when Paramount backed out. However, The Cloverfield Paradox remains one of the strangest fruits of this bitter harvest, in large part because of its pedigree, its production and its release.

It ain’t Clover ’til it’s Clover…

As the title implies, The Cloverfield Paradox is part of the shared universe of JJ Abrams films including Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Both were films that cleverly snuck up on audiences, and both were films that performed well for Paramount. As such, Paramount’s decision to sell off The Cloverfield Paradox seems strange – this is one of the company’s few successful properties, and there is even a fourth movie in the pipeline still aiming for a theatrical release. It seems a strange choice for Paramount to offload on Netflix.

Then again, the film’s production was notoriously troubled. The film was originally titled “The God Particle” before being changed to “Cloverfield Station” before finally being released as “The Cloverfield Paradox.” While the finished film looks impressive and has a top-notch cast, watching it is an incredibly disjointed experience. There is a sense that The Cloverfield Paradox has not been edited so much as filleted, that the audience is watching the leftover elements of a film that have been assembled from leftovers after the connecting tissue has been scraped from the bone.

Admiring the handiwork.

However, all of this is overshadowed by the circumstances of the film’s release, with Netflix finallising the deal to purchase The Cloverfield Paradox in late January, reportedly paying over $50m for it, and releasing it directly following the Super Bowl. There were no critics’ screenings, no advanced hype. There were simply two television spots promising viewers that they could watch the film on Netflix “after the game.” This was a brutally effective piece of marketting from Netflix, using the film to create a “disruption” to the established pattern of major movie releases.

This was an uncanny move, because all of the surrounding hype around this “event” glosses over the fact that The Cloverfield Paradox is just a new sheen on a familiar cliché. It is a “direct to video” film elevated to a seismic pop cultural phenomenon. And it is not even a good “direct to video” film.

Station-keeping.

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The Netflix Paradox: New Media and Old Methods…

Last night, Netflix released The Cloverfield Paradox.

The release of the film was announced in a Superbowl advertisement, promising audiences that the film would be available direct to them “after the game.” It was a striking move, particularly because so little was known about the film. It was, in many ways, an unexpected Christmas present, particularly as hyped and teased by director Ava DuVernay on Twitter. On the surface of it, this looked like a game-changing paradigm, a film released with only a few hours’ notice, directly bypassing critics and hype in a way that rendered it accessible to casual movie-goers.

Never too far a (Clover)field.

However, it also feels like a publicity coup for Netflix. The company has pulled off something truly remarkable with this release, in pulling off one of the oldest tricks in the film distribution playbook, while making it seem fresh and exciting. More than that, Netflix took a tactic that is traditionally associated with the release of bad films, and presented it as something revolutionary and democratic. Twitter commentators argued that this was the future of film releasing. Peeling back the layers on the release of The Cloverfield Paradox, it looked to be something quit different.

This was simply an old trick being cast in a new light.

#FilmTwitter right now.

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