Netflix dropped the biggest surprise of Super Bowl LII (other than the Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots) when it unexpectedly released The Cloverfield Paradox: the third instalment in the loosely-connected sci-fi anthology series.

A trailer was relayed during the game, which happened to be the first footage ever shown to the public, before it was later revealed that the film would be available to stream immediately after the championship game.

Cloverfield Paradox, which has also been known as God Particle, Cloverfield Station and just Cloverfield 3 over the years, has had a troubled time on its journey to release.

The film was shot over the summer of 2016 ahead of an initial release in February 2017. That was pushed back to October, then February 2018 and finally April of this year, before the surprise release last night (4 February).

That surprise appears to be due to the introduction of Netflix. Cloverfield Paradox was produced and set to be distributed by Paramount Pictures, but it was reported in January that Netflix was in talks to take over distribution rights.

Those talks were clearly successful, and it seems now Netflix's plan was to drum up hype with an impromptu release nobody would have been expecting.

The Cloverfield series has been an unconventional, but profitable one for Paramount. All three films are genre pictures made on much smaller budgets than most blockbusters.

City-destroying monster movie Cloverfield made $171 million (£121m) worldwide on a $25m budget and very little marketing, while claustrophobic thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane grossed $110m from an even smaller budget.

The Cloverfield Paradox had a bigger budget reported to be in the $40m region, and a bigger cast to boot.

It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O'Dowd, David Oyelowo and Ziyi Zhang. Julius Onah directed the film, from the screenplay by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung with J.J. Abrams producing.

The film appears to have closer ties to the 2008 original, with the Super Bowl TV Spot last night running with the line "10 years ago, some thing arrived. Now, find out why." It takes place on a space station orbiting Earth before, during and after the events of that first film.