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The new film Battleship shares its title with a famous board game, but other than that they have no actual connection. It's not so much an "adaptation" as it is "branding," a way of using the omnipresence of corporate brand identity in everyday life as a way of connecting to audience familiarity.
And guess what? It's not even close to being a new idea. Here are five movies where branded products weren't just part of the scenery, but part of the story.
Because of WInn-Dixie
In this particular case, the branding aspect only actually made sense if you lived or spent time in the American South where Winn-Dixie is a popular chain of supermarkets.
The film, based on a children's book by Kate DiCamillo, is a whimsical small-town fable about a little girl who makes new friends and helps emotionally withdrawn adults, including her father, come out of their shells with help from a plucky stray dog she adopts and names after the titular store where she discovered it. The movie and book don't really actively promote the Winn-Dixie corporation, though obviously the whole storyline is itself a cute-ified demonstration of the pervasiveness of branding, e.g. why not name your pets after the place you shop?
I almost feel bad putting this on here, because it means someone might be tempted to actually watch this. Please don't do that.
Natalie Portman stars as a pregnant teenager whose loser boyfriend abandons her in a Wal-Mart. With nowhere to go, she figures out how to effectively live in the massive big-box store, mingling with shoppers and employees by day and hiding out by night. She makes important life changing new friends in the store and even gives birth there, becoming a media sensation as "The Mother of The Wal-Mart Baby". There's a lot of quirky Southern Gothic melodrama in between there and the finale, but the main recurring thread (it was even in the trailer) is implicitly that Wal-Mart is so comprehensively stocked you can (literally) live an entire life off it.
Setting aside the unmitigated schlock of the movie itself (Rural south, you say? Populated by offbeat people whose deep personal wounds manifest in delightfully quirky ways, you say?), it's just shy of galling to see Wal-Mart, an institution infamous for blighting small communities by crippling local industry, being held up as a kind of present-day equivalent to the Town Square, i.e. a hub of neighborly bonding and community strength.
Product: Radio Flyer Wagons
Born in 1927, the Radio Flyer Red Wagon was one of the first iconic mass produced children's toys so ubiquitous in the memories of generations of people that its name and logo alone are capable of stirring powerful childhood nostalgia, a near-universal shared experience memory of more innocent, more carefree days.
So, of course, it makes perfect sense to use said name and logo as the title and visual touchstone of a movie about surviving constant, brutal child abuse. Right?
The film concerns two brothers (Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzello) who use imagination and exploration adventures to avoid/cope with the violent beatings meted out by their alcoholic stepfather. Their ultimate scheme, inspired by a local legend, is to retrofit their Radio Flyer wagon into a makeshift airplane by which the younger brother (target of the most abuse) can escape for good. So, if you ever wanted to know what The Wizard would be like if it was about much older toys and was unrelentingly depressing, here ya go.