The early 2016 movie season was given a little shot of intrigue with the release of 10 Cloverfield Lane. The movie seemed to materialize out of nowhere (first being reported as a thriller titled Valencia), and driven by a clever marketing campaign plus the mysterious tie-in with the original Cloverfield film, it opened with a strong $24 million first weekend and ultimately brought in $108 million on a $15 million budget. Instead of large-scale carnage a la the first Cloverfield, the “sequel” delivered small-scale Twilight Zone horror, ending with a sequence that loosely tied its events to the larger Cloverfield universe.
Director Dan Trachtenberg received kudos for the way he orchestrated the claustrophobic, character-driven thrills of 10 Cloverfield Lane. After such a resounding success, the world was understandably curious to see what the director would tackle next. Even before releasing 10 Cloverfield Lane, Trachtenberg was attached to the sci-fi heist film Crime of the Century, from a script by Daniel Kunka. The Trachtenberg/Kunka team is also responsible for another reported project that sounds like it could be in the science fiction area.
Deadline has the details on Trachtenberg’s new foray into feature films, and they are very sparse indeed. The project is titled Space Race and it will be made for Universal from a spec script by Kunka. Trachtenberg himself came up with the original idea. There’s no logline but the movie is reportedly high concept and is seen as a potential tentpole. Dylan Clark is the producer.
Daniel Kunka’s only previous feature film writing credit is the ultra-high-concept 12 Rounds, a 2009 Renny Harlin movie starring John Cena as a detective trying to rescue his girlfriend by completing 12 challenges. Dan Trachtenberg’s career began in short films, taking off with his short Portal: No Escape, the movie that led to his landing the 10 Cloverfield Lane gig. Trachtenberg has recently been rumored to be interested in directing a Harry Houdini film for Lionsgate. He also directed an episode of the creepy anthology series Black Mirror.
Given Trachtenberg’s obvious attachment to science fiction/horror material, not to mention the project’s actual title, it’s safe to assume Space Race will have some sci-fi elements – if it is not, in fact, a flat-out sci-fi film. The title has led to speculation that the movie could be about the actual historic space race between the USA and Soviet Union but the “tentpole” line would seem to shoot that down. It’s hard to imagine a historical movie about astronauts qualifying as a tentpole nowadays (notwithstanding the success of Hidden Figures) and beyond that, Trachtenberg’s resume would suggest something a little more small-scale and infused with horror elements.
We’ll have to wait and see what further reports come out about Space Race to flesh out our picture of the project. But Trachtenberg and Universal might actually wish to keep the shroud of secrecy around the film, given how successful that approach was with 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s a lot harder for Trachtenberg to fly under the radar nowadays however.