For long-time Cloverfield fans, the release of The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix is momentous. Even the small Cloverfield fan forum on Reddit, /r/Cloververse, was trending yesterday.
But while Cloverfield fans rejoiced at the opportunity to quickly access the film on the most popular SVOD (streaming video on demand) service, others questioned whether the move was wise. As Engadget stated yesterday, “The Cloverfield Paradox would be doomed without Netflix.” Disregarding whether or not Engadget’s statement is true, the J.J. Abrams film is just one among many films that now seem to be going “straight to SVOD.”
Small Screen for The Cloverfield Paradox
By most objective measures, The Cloverfield Paradox is a pretty lousy film. At this time of writing, the film has a 17% critic rating and 58% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Hardcore fans of movie serials tend to give them a bit more leeway, but the film couldn’t even eke out a minimal fresh rating. Still, none of that matters.
Even with a cast of well-known actors (Chris O’Dowd, David Oleyowo), and a decorated director, the film still shunned the box office. Some might say it’s because Abrams knew the film would be bad and didn’t want to risk the public shame. But it may be that streaming services offer the best option for both low-budget films and films that lack mainstream box office appeal.
This year’s Netflix hit, Bright, is a good example of that. The film bombed with critics, but audiences gave it a healthy 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. In an interview with Vulture, lead actor Will Smith and director David Ayers (Suicide Squad) both explained how Bright was a movie that needed to exist, but would have been held up creatively by the traditional Hollywood vetting process. And that includes finding and using actors who may not have passed through the traditional Hollywood hiring process.
Cloverfield Paradox may have failed on both the big and small screen, but it did still succeed in one thing. It, along with Bright, is part of a new effort by producers and streaming services to get movies going to go straight to SVOD in a trend that may see Hollywood rethinking its strategy.