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We live in a world full of advertising and cross promotions. As sad as that may be, it's absolutely true: every movie released in America needs to be adapted into a video game, a novel, a comic book or possibly a beach towel, because it's not enough that the movie alone make millions of dollars. Its name and characters must also be printed on every flat surface in the country, no matter how ridiculous the product…
The Meat Action Figure (Rocky Balboa)
Action figures come with accessories. This is only logical: what's the point of having a Cobra Commander if said commander can't defend himself with a firearm and a removable helmet? But what happens when an accessory is released without a figure? Answer: nothing, because no one buys it. This was like the Un-Game of 2006. You could find them in every toy store's bargain bin because no child wants to play with slabs of meat and no adult wants to collect slabs of meat except for serial killers.
Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game (Street Fighter)
Here's an interesting formula: take a popular video game series, adapt it into a movie and then adapt that movie back into a video game. If you're wondering if this works, the answer is “Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game” and it looks like this:
If you've seen Street Fighter then you know that it doesn't look like this. How you come to the decision to make a video game based on a movie based on a video game and decide to have it stray so far from the original source material that it almost resembles Tattoo Assassins is beyond us, but if you're still on the fence as to whether or not this was a solid plan, consider this: Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li did not have a video game tie-in.
Some Kind of Subway Sandwich (Land of the Lost)
Land of the Lost was a movie, just in case you'd forgotten. And while it wasn't a particularly successful film it was once (or rather, twice) a television series that people could remember fondly through the filter that was nostalgia. Then this happened:
That green guy is a Sleestak and they're terrifying creatures. But sometimes you can curb a killer instinct with a quality sandwich, I guess. Ignoring the dietary needs of lizard men, when was the last time you can remember Subway being involved with the promotion of a block-buster film? Then again, Hollywood doesn't really cater to the fast-food sandwich crowds anymore.
Fun fact: the film Goldeneye was originally written about a six-inch meatball sub.
Silver Surfer Quarter (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer)
An old saying says that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Common sense would dictate, however, that committing a crime should be considered bad publicity.
In what many speculated to be an effort to sensationalize a sub-par movie, 20th Century Fox changed the backs of eighty-thousand quarters to feature the Silver Surfer and the film's website's URL. The end product was this:
Not exactly a beautiful thing but a promotion none the less. About eight-hundred were released in each state. After they entered circulation on Memorial Day, the United States mint stepped in to let them know that hey, that's totally illegal (legal currency can't be used for commercial advertising).
The film inevitably tanked, earning less money than the previous film and garnering only slightly better reviews, but on the upside you can now sell one of these for a few hundred bucks.
Tron Clothes? (Tron: Legacy)
Tron is a classic science fiction film. People know what it is. You can't show someone WarGames and tell them that it’s Tron because they just know that Tron looks like this:
Now, realistically, if you saw someone walking down the street dressed like this you'd avoid them at all costs, including causing harm to yourself and others, because they are clearly in need of medication. Now if you see someone dressed like this:
You would not assume that they were somehow associated with Tron. In fact, the only thing that the above image and Tron have in common is that white people are involved, they aren't naked and their lives may be ended in a high-speed motorcycle chase. Try telling that to Opening Ceremony, who produced a whole line of clothing “inspired” by Tron Legacy.
The Game (Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc)
Time for an in-class exercise. Select the narrative that best describes the following image from the below list:
a) Confirmed sex-murderer Johnny McSexstab attempts a bold escape from Sing Sing maximum security prison. However, just as freedom appears over the horizon, so too does the disembodied head of Warden Wundersull. Wunderskull takes no prisoners, primarily because he has no arms. McSexstab knows it's now or never. Gripping his toothbrush shank he dives for the warden, suddenly feeling the urge to both brutally kill and make love at the same time.
b) Indiana Jones, having put on several pounds, frantically searches the country side for missing limbs. Then, Nazis happened.
The Atari's graphics are ugly to say the least, but what's the point in trying to adapt a movie into a game if what you're making could be spotted as shoddy at best by even the most blind of men?
Space Casket (Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan)
According to the smash hit “Let's Go Crazy” by Prince and the Revolution, we're all gonna' die. As time goes on we come to accept this while simultaneously trying to not think about it until we're dead center in a hostage crisis. If you're fortunate enough to get buried in a box, chances are you don't really care what it looks like. But think about this: if you are laid to rest in a Star Trek prop any good deed you've done in life will be forgotten in favor of people trying to justify your intense fandom.
Goku Figure (Dragon Ball Z: Evolution)
Back to action figures for a moment. Some action figures have accessories to mask the fact that they're just poorly painted plastic. Others dare to dream and can actually perform some sort of action. In the case of Goku that action is a “fast punch”, but once you look at it while it's not in motion…
It just looks like Goku and Goro has a hideous baby. Apparently the “Evolution” of the title was meant to be taken literally. That, or poor Goku was at the site of some nuclear disaster when he was but a boy.
Optimus Prime Costume (Transformers)
One of the most widely used ploys in marketing is the Halloween costume. However, there's just something very wrong with turning any Transformer into a suit for people to wear. Transformers, large and bulky robots, suddenly look like malnourished Burning Man attendees when worn by children. Still the old Transformers tag line, “Robots in Disguise,” is still apt, but now the disguise has gone from “awesome truck” to “multi-colored prisoner of war.”
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