The merchandising side of film production has been an important component of the industry since star wars blew out the doors in 1977. Just browse the toy aisle of their local Wal-Mart or Target to find the greatest movie hits.
But while many films are now made with a strong grasp of merchandising, many tend to be made solely for the benefit of cross-selling. Movies are an incredibly expensive business, especially ones filled with the kind of VFX-heavy toy design featured in Transformers or the mcu. That hasn’t stopped some daring companies from promoting their own brands with big movies meant just to be feature commercials.
ten Food fight!
Oh, the things nightmares are made of. Released in the year 2012, fittingly apocalyptic, Food fight! by Threshold Entertainment and director Lawrence Kasanoff was left in development hell for a decade, and during that time he racked up not only the licenses of major grocery brands like Mr. Clean and The California Raisins, but also the star power of Charlie Sheen, Hillary Duff, Wayne Brady and Christopher Lloyd.
Food fight! has achieved infamy thanks to a variety of internet reviews that mock its janky animation and mind-blowing dance numbers. With a conservative budget estimate of $45 million, it’s safe to say that Food fight! didn’t quite make his money in advertising.
9 TMNT sequels
The original 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The film is considered a cult classic by fans who grew up with it as children. While its sequel, Secret of the slimeis remembered for his “Ninja Rap” and Super Shredder, the final film in the aptly titled trilogy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, is obviously a soulless cash grab that had completely removed the edge from the first feature.
behind-the-scenes politics TMNT the sequels are worth readers seeking out, but one might be surprised to learn that the first film didn’t count on selling tons of merchandise. The movie’s turtle toys weren’t even created until much later, and it wasn’t until the two sequels that the toyetic push came into play.
8 space jam
It’s no secret that 1996 space jam was a cash-grabbing move to take advantage of Nike’s popular Super Bowl commercials featuring Bugs Bunny/Michael Jordan. It holds a nostalgic place in the hearts of many kids who grew up with the film, though the actual quality of the presentation is up for debate. Its 2021 direct sequel (ignoring the events of the 2003 pseudo-sequel, Looney Tunes: back in action) was received with great fanfare.
Nostalgic fans were, to say the least, curious as to what might warrant a sequel to a film that didn’t need one. The sequel was critically panned and considered just as transparent promotional propaganda as the original. That hasn’t stopped fans from arguing over the merits of the first film on social media, however.
7 G.I. Joe: The Movie
Although not as beloved as its transforming counterpart on the Hasbro list, 1987 G.I. Joe: The film still featured one of the most thrilling and awe-inspiring opening sequences in Western cartoon history. With an explosive rendition of the main theme along with an eerie new Cobra melody, the intro set a standard the rest of the film simply couldn’t meet.
The most famous moment in the rest of the feature is easily the “coma” Joe’s frontman Duke slips into after being stabbed. Originally he was supposed to die to establish new
toys characters, but this was changed at the last minute to avoid parental backlash.
6 Pokémon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back
Sporting one of the most confusing names in movie history, the 1998s Pokémon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back saw the adorable and profitable world of pocket monsters on the big screen.
Modern-day Poké fans might not realize that while the film was designed to market and promote Nintendo’s video games, it was also focused on promoting the real-world collectible card game. Although not as popular as it once was, Pokemon TCG was once a powerful pillar of the community. Even today, there’s a lot of noise around new sets and rare cards, but at its peak, the fervor was like nothing else.
5 Mac and me
Mac and mereleased in 1988, is the answer to the question “What if instead of Steven Spielberg directing the beloved childhood classic AND the extra-terrestrial it was more like a terrifying, dystopian McDonald’s mega-corporation?” With unsettling alien designs and an entire dance routine involving Ronald McDonald, Mac and me became an all-time “so bad it’s good” classic.
Probably best known for the ever-viral clip actor Paul Rudd likes to prank Conan O’Brien with, in which a child in a wheelchair falls off a cliff, the film also boasts one of the most crazy from 0 to 60 of any kids movie.
4 Garbage Pail Children’s Movie
Somehow even more haunting than Food fight! and Mac and me Garbage Pail Children’s Movie was born on the Innocent Plane of Earth in 1987. Rod Amateau created this Lovecraftian horror and soon retired afterward. Presumably, he saw that his job was done and he couldn’t reach a higher plateau.
Based on Cabbage Patch Children trading card parody of the same name, this film brings their ancient and incomprehensible lifeforms back to life in animatronic masks and costumes. In 2012, a threat of a reveal and a reboot was made against the world, but luckily the demon was pushed back and so far no word has been heard about his return to the big screen.
3 Robosapien: rebooted
Robosapien was a line of robotic toys from WowWee that featured (for its time) quite advanced features and was a personal favorite for many early children. The 2013 film, alternatively titled Cody the Robosapienwas an attempt to refresh the line with a new look and a new robotic pal for the next generation of kids.
The film failed spectacularly, and these days it can be rare to find even a trace of the line on store shelves. However, Cody has a pretty gnarly and mean attitude – Sonic the Hedgehog better watch out, or Cody could take his place.
2 The wizard
by Nintendo Super Mario Bros. the film wasn’t the first time the company made an effort to break into Hollywood. With the years 1989 The wizard Starring Fred Savage, Christian Slater, and the first cinematic role of Spider-Man himself, Tobey Maguire, Nintendo has made a concerted effort to announce all of its best products.
Everything from the Help Line and even the Power Glove makes an appearance, all with the subtlety of a brick. The climax of the film is a battle of skill in the then unreleased film Super Mario Bros 3, whose characters somehow know all the secrets. It also features the coolest kid in movie history, Lucas, who loved the Power Glove so much because “it’s so bad.”
1 The Transformers: The Movie
The Transformers: The Movie from 1986, full slaps. To be fair, a lot of it could just be nostalgia and prejudice. However, even if the film was not called and featured the robots in disguise, it would still feature extremely ambitious and spectacular animation for a Western production at the time, as well as a killer soundtrack with a mix of songs like Stan Bush, Lion and even Weird Al Yankovic with an incredible synth score provided by Rocky IVit’s Vince DiCola.
The film, designed to clean out the shelf of old toys and set up the new 1987 line, has no right to be as good as it is. It’s worth at least a watch, especially spoiler-free, for anyone interested in animation or toys.
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