There are about two schools of thought on J.J. Abrams and his love of “Puzzle Box” movies. One is that it’s great to see a film where you know little to nothing about what the film is besides a vague impression going in. The other is that Abrams is the master of leading audience’s to P.T. Barnum’s famous Egress, where the mystery is just a way to con the audience. Abrams is back at his mystery movie, this time done with Director/screenwriter Billy Ray, as reported by Deadline Hollywood.
So far this mystery box approach has worked well for his Star Trek, but not so great for Super 8 or Cloverfield. Super 8 was seen as a minor win for the filmmaker, which is the best that could be said of Cloverfield as well. The problem with 8 was that – though it played longer than many of the summer pictures – it did just okay business. The film has a supposed production budget of $50 Million, so with a worldwide total of $258 Million – even if it did cost closer to $100 Million – it turned out okay. But okay and wunderkind aren’t synonymous.
On television, Abrams applied the mystery box philosophy to Lost. Enough said?
Abrams is currently prepping Star Trek 2. It’s possible this project will be handed off to someone else (like Matt Reeves did on Cloverfield) once the script is done.
Do you like the Mystery Box approach?