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It started with a random rumor that circulated at Sundance: the rumor that the next film in the Cloverfield franchise was in consideration to become one of the next Netflix originals. After being finished for almost two years, and with several release dates already set up and kicked down the road, the film once known as God Particle has now been rumored to be heading to the streaming service as an exclusive release. Other rumors are pointing to a Super Bowl ad being the vehicle to announce the potential new venue, and possibly a new release date. But if I'm being honest, this third Cloverfield film shouldn't even be heading to Netflix, as the franchise is truly a theatrical experience.
Thinking back to both Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, I remember seeing both films in a theatrical setting, and while they vary in the scope of their stories, they share the common bond of intense spectacle. In both cases, that level of spectacle is not only best seen, but also best heard, on a movie theater setup. Now granted, that sort of presentation can be had with a home theater system, but not everyone has the luxury of having a huge TV, or even a surround sound system, that can truly convey the craft that goes into a Cloverfield movie. Especially in the case of 10 Cloverfield Lane, where sound design and score were crucial parts to the film's success.
Not to mention the fact that a Cloverfield mystery unfolding in front of a group of strangers in the same theater is still the best word of mouth. Walking out of the theater after seeing Cloverfield or even 10 Cloverfield Lane, you had an audience ready to talk about what they'd seen, while also exciting the folks about to walk into the auditorium themselves. Now while Netflix certainly has its buzzworthy titles that debut and get talked up on the internet in that same weekend, you still have to convince people to have time to sit down and watch that movie or show that's just hit the queue. Whereas if you make your way out to a theater to see Cloverfield 3, it's more of an event and lends to even stronger discussion.
But the biggest reason that the latest Cloverfield movie should have for keeping a theatrical exhibition platform in mind is the fact that the scope of this installment is the greatest yet. Ever since the day that God Particle released a synopsis promising tension on an international space station that just happens to see Earth disappear, the tone for the film had been set. While in an enclosed space, this thriller would unfold in the dark, cold, unforgiving realm of space - a setting that deserves as big of a screen as you can give it. The playing field for the Cloverfield franchise is expanding, and in turn, the venues showing this new film should have the biggest screen and the best sound system that any theater can offer behind the images being shown.
Don't mistake my rejection of Netflix as a distribution platform for Cloverfield's latest round of excitement as a dismissal of the platform on the whole. I'm still a proud subscriber, and even if the new film winds up on the platform, I'll still watch it. But the Cloverfield universe is, and always should be, a thrill-a-minute experience that looms larger than life over the audience it's being shown to. These are the sort of movies that always play to the positive aspects of the theater experience, as they make going to the cineplex truly worth it. To sell away God Particle's final form to a home distribution platform means there's one less true theatrical experience making it to the silver screen, and these days we could use as many of those as we can grab.
For now, the world waits to see if the film potentially titled Cloverfield Station is confirmed as the next Netflix original. We might find out this weekend, as the film is rumored to be dropping a Super Bowl spot during the big game on Sunday. But personally, it'd be a great disservice to turn a large theatrical spectacle into something folks would primarily enjoy on their TVs. If it's an untested brand like Bright, that could work to great effect. But when you have two proven winners in the Cloverfield canon, you have no excuse to make it look like you're dumping a perfectly good movie.