April 22, 2008 / 12:22 AM / 10 years ago

J.J. Abrams breaks ranks with Hollywood thinking

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - J.J. Abrams doesn’t sound like a big-time Hollywood director and producer when he says the best place to watch his effects-filled disaster film “Cloverfield” is not in movie theaters but at home.

Most filmmakers want fans to see movies the way they were meant to be seen, on big screens in dark theaters where fantasy can become real. Then again, the DVD for box office hit “Cloverfield” lands on retail shelves on Tuesday, so it may be advantageous for Abrams to promote watching the film at home.

Still, Abrams seems sincere. “The thing about this movie -- probably more than any I think -- is that it is better on DVD than in the theater,” Abrams told Reuters. “Because the movie is like a videotape. It lives on your TV. In many ways, it is supposed to be viewed on a (TV) monitor.”

“Cloverfield” tells of young people in Manhattan escaping monsters that are on a rampage of skyscraper destruction. Abrams said because it is told from the point-of-view of one young man taping the events with a video camera, it has the look and feel of a home movie -- albeit one with huge monsters.

As it plays out, the story tells of one man searching Manhattan for his lover as the city is rapidly destroyed by the alien-looking beings. When the two finally reunite, they must escape the city limits, and their adventure is captured on the shaky, hand-held video camera.

“Cloverfield,” which cost a reported $25 million to make, became a surprise hit this past January when it debuted in theaters to a $40 million opening weekend and went on to rake in $166 million at worldwide box offices.

Abrams produced “Cloverfield” and shepherded it through Paramount Pictures, where he directed the Tom Cruise movie “Mission: Impossible III.” He also created smash hit TV show “Lost,” and is directing the new “Star Trek,” due in theaters next year.

“The challenge of (”Star Trek“) is to take something that -- despite the baggage of what came before -- was imaginative and unreal and make it feel as real as possible,” Abrams said.

The producer, director and writer has become almost a brand name himself, with films and TV shows featuring supernatural and science fiction elements, as well as splashy special effects.

His fans should expect those same qualities from the new “Star Trek” movie, as well as plot twists and characters that give the movie a real-life quality.

“If there is a through-line in the stuff I’ve been able to work on, it is taking stories that are out there and combining them with people who are us,” Abrams said.

Editing by Dan Whitcomb

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