10 Cloverfield Lane was one of the biggest surprise hits of 2016. A big reason people went to see it was because it was a surprise sequel to 2008’s Cloverfield. However, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, the film’s star, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, had no clue that the film was in the Cloverfield universe until after she was done filming it.
“It was all definitely after the fact because I didn’t know it was a Cloverfield movie until just before it came out,” Winstead told Collider. “I had no idea it was a Cloverfield movie! [Laughs] It was an idea that was floated around but wasn’t something that was really, officially like, ‘This is part of that universe.’ It was its own standalone film and then, just before the movie came out, spoke with JJ and it was like, ‘Oh no, this is gonna be part of the Cloverfield franchise.’ And I really didn’t know what to think of it at first because I hadn’t really wrapped my brain around it and then, once everything got laid out and it made sense and the marketing for it came out, I was like, ‘Oh, I see how this fits together, this kind of puzzle,’ and it’s actually really smart.”
The reason Winstead didn’t know was because 10 Cloverfield Lane wasn’t always supposed to be a Cloverfield movie. The original script for the film was titled The Cellar before it was changed to Valencia once production started up.
J.J. Abrams noticed some connective tissue to the 2008 film and decided to connect the two. The decision ended up being a smart one, as 10 Cloverfield Lane ended up making $110.2 million against a $13-$15 million budget. Had it not been for the title change, the film may not have been nearly as big of a hit.