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CLOVERFIELD

Crushing The Big Apple
One of the first hints of the destruction brought on by the monster's devastating tantrums comes early in the film, as the core group of young friends leaves Rob's party to find out what the commotion outside is all about – only to be greeted by the head of the Statue of Liberty bouncing down the street.

The shot was originally featured in a two-minute teaser trailer filmed in late May 2007, which appeared just a few weeks later attached to Michael Bay's summer blockbuster "TRANSFORMERS.” The trailer contained a variety of shots, including party scenes, Miss Liberty's head and other depictions of destruction, all of which were shot prior to the start of production on the film. "The Liberty head sequence was a huge leap of faith from the studio,” explains Burk. But the trailer had an immediate impact on genre fans. "The reaction was just what we'd hoped for,” notes Abrams. "No one had heard of this movie yet. We didn't even put a title on it, something the MPAA had never seen before.”

The title of the film, though seemingly cryptic, actually came out of the producers' desire to keep news of the production quiet until the time was right. "We wanted to make a movie that no one knew about and then let them discover it, the way we used to discover movies growing up,” says Abrams. Interest in the film, based on just the trailer, has been, to say the least, remarkable. "I certainly didn't expect the outpouring of curiosity and intense scrutiny of this project,” says executive producer Clark, "or people sneaking onto the set and taking photos and video. It's been intense. People are very interested in J.J. and what he has to say.”

It was, in fact, one of Abrams' and Burk's agents, John Fogelman, who, having seen the word "monster” one too many times in private e-mail correspondence, suggested calling the project "Cloverfield,” after a main street near Abrams' office in West Los Angeles. "We started working on the movie, and it became like a nickname. But we thought, ‘There's no way that's going to be the title of the movie,'” Abrams recalls. "We even had another title, ‘Greyshot,' the name of the bridge that Rob and Beth are hiding under in Central Park at the end of the film, which we were all set to announce at Comic-Con. But, by that time, the name ‘Cloverfield' had already leaked out, and the fans already knew it by that name, so we just decided to stick with that.”

The shocking Liberty head shot was filmed on the Paramount back lot and created originally by Studio City-based Hammerhead Productions (the shot, later reused in the feature film, was advanced by Double Negative to include more detail). It's Abrams' homage to John Carpenter's 1981 film "Escape From New York,” which featured a similar image in its original theatrical poster. "I loved that movie as a kid,” he says, "but one of the things that drove me crazy is the poster had this picture of the head of the Statue of Liberty sitting in the middle of a New York street – but it was never in the movie,” says Abrams. "And I always felt that was such a crazy, scary image, that it had to be in our movie.”

Difficult as it was to give a fictional 25-story monster a sense of authenticity (which for Reeves was crucial to the success of the film), Tippett Studio and Double Negative were further challenged to create scenes of destruction that had to look real to an audience for whom scenes of falling buildings in New York are all too well-etched in their minds.

A few years ago, few people had any idea of what a building looked like when it collapsed. "Now,” says Michael Ellis, "when a building collapses in a particular way and throws off a huge amount of dust, it's recognizable to everybody.” "Again,” notes Leven, "YouTube has changed the game in terms of visual effects references.”

Double Negative already had experie

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