'The Cloverfield Paradox' Went To Netflix Because Paramount Didn't Want A Box Office Failure

While it's usually the commercials that dominate water cooler chatter the day after the Super Bowl, this year, movie lovers had something else to talk about.

The Cloverfield Paradox, the third installment in what has become a makeshift sci-fi franchise featuring a series of vaguely connected stories from Bad Robot and Paramount Pictures, surprised everyone by debuting on Netflix immediately after the big game instead of coming to theaters in April as originally planned. It was a bold, innovative release strategy, but it seems the decision to catch everyone off guard with the movie's release wasn't based on shaking things up. Instead, the studio had little faith in the movie's prospective performance at the box office.Variety recently sat down with Andrew Gumpert after his first year as the COO of Paramount Pictures, and their discussion turned to the big decision the studio made to sell the distribution rights to The Cloverfield Paradox to Netflix. How did the decision come about? It's not all that exciting, and it's perhaps even a bit disappointing:

"The movie was finished, we all reviewed it together with J.J. and his team. We all decided there were things about it that made us have a pause about its commercial playability in the traditional matter."

That means that Paramount didn't see it as being a commercial success at the box office. Gumpert is vague about what exactly made them leery about giving the movie a theatrical release, but the reviews would indicate that it may have been a lack of faith in the quality of the movie. At the same time, the story itself does have some strange sci-fi elements like parallel dimensions and a confusing connection to the original Cloverfield movie, so maybe it was the story's content that made them question commercial appeal.

Either way, Gumpert is happy with the decision, but maybe a little too confident about it. He says:

"There was an ability for us to be fiscally prudent and monetize. For fans of 'Cloverfield,' the fact is many, many more millions of people saw the movie. It's a positive on every level."

Sure, putting the Cloverfield movie on Netflix likely got more eyes on it in the first week of release than otherwise might have sought it out in theaters. But at the same time, I'm not sure it's positive on every level. Though Paramount may have gotten a nice price for the distribution rights to The Cloverfield Paradox, fans walked away fairly disappointed in the movie. And now that we know Paramount didn't see the movie as a commercial success, this feels all the more disappointing.

The Cloverfield Paradox being sent to Netflix isn't quite the game changer that some thought it would be. If anything it just confirms a new place for studios to dump the movies they're not confident in, adding to the library of movies Netflix have that seem to be nothing more than background noise.