‘THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX’ retains originality within the franchise says writer Oren Uziel

Ziyi Zhang, Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd and David Oyelowo in THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX. Courtesy of Netflix.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

Film lovers – specifically CLOVERFIELD fans – got the shock of a lifetime tonight during the Super Bowl. The third film in the franchise, previously referred to as GOD PARTICLE, was going to have a hasty drop/ dump on Netflix right after the game ended. To top off that blindsiding news, it’s now titled THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX. What. Is. Even. Happening. Right. Now?!?!

Back in June of 2017, I spoke with writer Oren Uziel briefly about the film when it was on track to be released by Paramount.

GOD PARTICLE was chosen to become the next in the CLOVERFIELD franchise. When you get that news is it pure excitement or maybe that emotion chased with some trepidation fitting it into an established universe?

It’s not like a ‘Hey, we’re going to take this and now it will be part of the CLOVERFIELD universe.’ There’s no real moment that, that is established until far later. My understanding and what their goal is for CLOVERFIELD is that it’s a way for studios to make original science-fiction movies with some light thread that we can tie together. It’s very hard to release a smallish, original science-fiction movie these days so if you can rope it into the entire CLOVERFIELD banner it just helps with their movie and get eyeballs on the movie. It wasn’t a very clear, ‘We’re taking this and it’s going to be a CLOVERFIELD movie.’ It’s more, ‘This is the movie we’re making, and it’s going to be part of the CLOVERFIELD universe. How do we make sure that it’s legitimately tied in?’ I don’t even know what the answer to that is.

You have lots of other projects on your docket too. How do you juggle it all?

 It’s very cyclical. Things heat up and then they go away – and they can be years. These are two examples that are case in point. They couldn’t be more dead and then all of a sudden, in the same year, GOD PARTICLE and SHIMMER LAKE both become movies and their eight-year-old projects. I would never call anything dead. But as a screenwriter, you can’t just sit and wait for things to happen. You have to constantly be pushing things forward and taking new jobs and it becomes a real juggling act because you have no control over when things will heat up. You learn that if you have to, it’s morning on this project, afternoon on this project, interrupted by a phone call on a third project and sometimes at night you’re reading.

There was like a good three year chunk where I was always working on two things at once. Always. It wasn’t until after GOD PARTICLE that I was able to… I was so unavailable for so long. I had directed SHIMMER LAKE, was off in Toronto and was editing, and went straight to set on GOD PARTICLE and was there for another three months. Everything else had gone away. It was the first time I really had a moment where I could turn everything off. I wrote another spec because it had been too many years that I hadn’t written a spec and it was a great thing to do. It cleared my head and reminded me there’s a different way of writing for yourself. You don’t have to worry about an actor, a producer, an IP. I feel liked writing this scene this way and you just do it. It’s great!

Why would a studio agree to change the game in such a radical manner? How do the filmmakers feel about this now?

While I do wish I could get the answers to these questions, and more, ultimately this gives the film a huge potential audience of millions. Having that sort of access is incredibly convenient. Uziel’s previous film, SHIMMER LAKE, is currently available on the platform so it’s likely he’s happy with that platform.

A cursory glance at BoxOfficeMojo’s financial stats yield some noteworthy information on the franchise’s box office performance, which is probably a factor in this unique decision.

Listen, this is a series that’s always been built on surprising its core base with innovative ideas and marketing. Why start changing that motive now?

 

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