Paramount film to bow January 18

Paramount and J.J. Abrams are playing coy about a mystery-shrouded trailer running before “Transformers” in theaters around the country.

The trailer is apparently for a Bad Robot monster movie code-named “Cloverfield,” which Paramount will bow Jan. 18. Shot “Blair Witch”-style with handheld cameras, it shows revelers sounding off at a Gotham birthday party until mayhem strikes. The trailer carries no title, but at the end, it flashes “From producer J.J. Abrams,” then the release date and a quickie credit block.

Pic is being directed by “Felicity” co-creator Matt Reeves and written by “Lost” and “Alias” cohort Drew Goddard. Within days of the “Transformers” opening Monday, clips of the trailer had been removed from YouTube at Par’s request.

Yet a Bad Robot staffer close to Abrams feigned ignorance about the trailer – which bears the company’s logo – Thursday afternoon.

This isn’t the first time Abrams has been involved in mysterious schemes to promote his projects. Last year, Hyperion published a tie-in tome to “Lost,” the series he co-created, supposedly penned by a character on the plane that set the skein into motion. And the series aired mock ads for the Hanso Foundation that led viewers to various websites promoting a game tied to the program (Variety, May 22-28, 2006).

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