Editor’s Note: for information on events since this article’s publication, check out ARGNet’s follow-up article on the Super 8 alternate reality game.
Over the past few weeks, rumors have been floating around about Super 8, a new movie by JJ Abrams. Many speculated the film would be the newest installment in the Cloverfield universe. Abrams is going to extreme measures to maintain the mystique of this new project, sending the film’s trailers to theaters in canisters that required special codes to open. Despite these security measures, a “bootleg copy” of the trailer was posted on YouTube prior to the trailer’s release during select Iron Man 2 screenings at last night’s midnight showings.
Hidden within the trailer was the phrase “THESCARIESTTHINGIEVERSAW,” leading astute followers to the website ScariestThingIEverSaw.com, which accesses a “PDP-11 Simulator” operating on a remote desktop. The simulator was developed by “D. Morris” on February 5, 1977, and executes an as-yet-unknown operation that takes days to load.
Very little is known about Super 8 or its related viral experience, although MovieViral.com has provided a succinct summary of what little information is available. Abrams has gone on the record clarifying that the film “has nothing whatsoever to do with Cloverfield,” but has remained silent on any further details regarding the project. Abrams has a proven track record of building buzz around his projects through interactive experiences that attract dedicated followings (including viral campaigns for Star Trek, Fringe, Cloverfield, LOST, and Alias) so this newest installment might be worth exploring. Abrams’ alternate reality games have been inconsistent at times, considering the cancellation of LOST‘s Dharma Initiative ARG and the Fringe ARG devolving into a series of glyph ciphers hidden in each episode. However, the highs seem to be overpowering the occassional low. Two LOST alternate reality games have won a Primetime Emmy for Interactive Media – Fiction, and WIRED’s puzzle-filled “mystery issue” guest-edited by Abrams won an Ellie for best special-topic issue. Furthermore, Abrams’ most recent alternate reality game Alert Vulcan demonstrated that he is still willing to go the extra mile to provide an immersive transmedia experience that crosses over into the real world, so this may very well turn into the scariest thing I ever saw.
UPDATE 05/08/2010: the original leaked trailer has been deleted from YouTube.