What might seem like an ordinary casting story on the surface could be much more than that, thanks to the tendency for J.J. Abrams and his production banner Bad Robot to keep secrets when it comes to their movie productions, especially those tied into the Cloverfield universe. So when it was announced earlier today that the Paramount Pictures production of the World War II film Overlord was aiming to kick off in May, with some familiar names attached, we opted to take a closer look.
Thanks to a heads-up tweet from The Tracking Board’s Jeff Sneider, we have word that Overlord will be adding Jovan Adepo (Fences) and Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street) as the leads of the mysterious film. Directed by Julius Avery (Son of a Gun) and scripted by Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) and Mark L. Smith (The Revenant), Overlord will follow a group of American paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day. On the approach to their target–a village under Nazi occupation–they start to realize there there’s more to this place than a military operation.
Overlord sounds like a straight-up wartime drama with a “mystery box” twist, and it’s that latter part which is in lockstep with Abrams’ brand. Producing alongside Abrams is Lindsey Weber, who also produced 10 Cloverfield Lane, so the Clover-verse team is present and accounted for. Currently, that shared universe also includes the Cloverfield IMAX Movie which opens October 27th of this year, and the previously announced film known as God Particle, directed by Julius Onah and starring David Oyelowo and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. That film will track “a team of astronauts who make a terrifying discovery that challenges all they know about the fabric of reality, as they desperately fight for survival”, but it was mysteriously pulled from the release calendar late last year when it had been slotted for a February 2017 release.
Our best guess at the moment is that God Particle will reemerge as the October release, perhaps with a new title or perhaps not, and that Overlord will be the 2018 Clover-verse release, since Abrams & Co. planned to release a new film in that loosely shared universe each year.
More interesting than all of the shared cinematic stuff is the talent incubator that Abrams’ Clover-verse productions have become. Matt Reeves came out of the TV biz to helm Cloverfield, going on to direct Let Me In, films in the Planet of the Apes franchise reboot, and is gearing up for a little thing called The Batman. Dan Trachtenberg now has a Clover-verse film on the filmography of his relatively young career, and Nigerian-born Onah (The Girl Is in Trouble) will soon join him, possibly alongside Avery, if Overlord is indeed a Clover-verse joint. If it is, it would be the earliest story in the shared timeline, perhaps answering some questions as to all this chaos has come about. Time will tell, but Abrams and Bad Robot have too much fun messing with our heads to stop now.