Is There a Place for Anthology Series on the Big Screen?

The next 'Cloverfield' movie is rumored to be heading to Netflix.

10 Cloverfield Lane

The next ‘Cloverfield’ movie is rumored to be heading to Netflix.

Hollywood is always testing the bottom line. As movies get more expensive, the failures can destroy the financial solvency of their studios. Paramount is possibly making a deal that will protect itself from that sort of expensive mistake. The Hollywood Reporter has discovered that Netflix is in talks to acquire the next installment of the Cloverfield franchise from the studio, which is moving on from the feature because it is a risky endeavor.

The still-untitled movie (formerly known as God’s Particle) has already been jumping around the release calendar. Initially set for February 24, 2017, the picture has seen numerous delays due to claims it needed some additional work and that Abrams was getting the film in shape during post-production. That never came to pass, as his schedule kept being filled with more pertinent work, including the next Star Wars episode. At the moment, the third Cloverfield entry is on the calendar for an April 20, 2018 release.

Paramount recently made another deal with similar ramifications. In December, they sent the new Alex Garland sci-fi picture, Annihilation, to Netflix, which will handle all international territories. Paramount will still release Annihilation in theaters domestically on February 23rd, however. The studio’s release slate overall is reportedly now being reduced to mitigate disaster. Chairman Jim Gianopulos, who took over the reins of the company in 2017 has been making difficult choices lately.

“He sat down and looked at what is theatrical, [and] what is not, in this day and age,” says a source quoted by THR. Gianopolous may be thinking that Cloverfield movies are among what is not big screen material.

That might be the case for something without built-in brand awareness, like Annihilation, but Paramount has released two previous Cloverfield movies and they’ve been profitable. The 2008 original and 2014’s 10 Cloverfield Lane were each made for approximately $25 million and each grossed close to $80 million domestically. One of the biggest issues with the third one has been its budget ballooning to the $40 million-plus range. The Cloverfield franchise has also been contentious for its lack of clarity in its being an anthology series rather than one where the movies are connected.

Paramount may not see a place for such an anthology movie franchise on the big screen in 2018. But has there ever been a time when audiences went for the concept anyway? Universal’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch disappointed fans in 1982 with its attempt to go the standalone stories route rather than keep with the Michael Myers continuity of previous Halloween installments. And the same studio’s Tales from the Crypt banner failed to be a thing of interest in the 1990s.

Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy offered an experience like an anthology, repeating actors in different stories but having them all connected by a tiny ice cream motif. But typically, instead of a true anthology series format, movie franchises are just branded together, like the National Lampoon presentations. Audiences prefer for movie sequels to continue a narrative, not put them in a new story with maybe the promise of a tie-in. That only works on the small screen where series like the American Horror Story, which changes stories each season, and Black Mirror, which consists of standalone episodes, are thriving.

That makes Netflix the perfect partner for Paramount in this situation. Netflix has proven that big budget stories connected by a shared universe or theme excel on their platform. This wouldn’t likely be the studio dumping one movie, but an opportunity for the streaming company to take a yearly dive into the world of Cloverfield. The ink isn’t dry on the deal yet, but should it come to pass, Paramount gets out of a risky proposition and Netflix gets a new franchise. Anthology series might not work on the big screen, but they are booming in other, smaller distribution channels.

News Writer/Columnist for Film School Rejects. It’s the Pictures Co-host. Bylines Playboy, ZAM, Paste Magazine and more.