Realistically, Hollywood will eventually run out of superheroes to make movies about – just hopefully not before they get to my boy Moon Knight. After that there’s videogame movies, and while things might be getting better in that realm it’s a decidedly mixed bag thus far. Action figures? We’ll see if that trend actually is a trend in a month or so. Board games? The inaugural test run for that didn’t go so hot.
So then what?
It’s not like you can expect these people to start discovering the miracle of original ideas, folks. We’re getting a fourth Transformers movie. They’re remaking Robocop. The same guy is now doing Star Trek and Star Wars – this is not an industry that places a premium on original thought right now. They’re going to need new sources of brand-recognition iconography to make bad movies out of sooner or later – so here’s a few ideas as to where they could go looking next.
Breakfast cereal has a incredibly important role in American society: Getting kids to wolf down bowl after bowl of corn and/or grain based food product in order to prop up the subsidized behemoth that is the agriculture industry, thus keeping the Midwest from vanishing off the face of the Earth for another few years. And for going on five decades, the way they’ve chosen to do so is with a succession of colorful cartoon mascots shilling the stuff.
If you look at this stuff through the eyes of a shameless studio executive hack, there’s actually a pretty deep bench of talent in this area. Tony the Tiger? Toucan Sam? Lucky the Leprechaun? Those guys can probably carry a movie. That Seinfeld cartoon pretty much already did the Cheerios Bee’s movie. Hell, if you keep the disguise element of his shtick, the story of the Trix Rabbit could be Catch Me If You Can, but for breakfast. Naval adventures are a pretty reliable genre, and there’s salty old Captain Crunch just sitting there waiting for his orders.
And this is ignoring the most obvious plum of all, General Mills’ “Monster Cereals” line is represented by a whole menagerie of flavor-coded takes on the Universal Monsters – surely there’s at least a Van Helsing‘s worth of laughs to be wrung out of the running conflict between Count Chocula and Frankenberry, and I can’t be the only person who’s getting impatient waiting around for my gritty reboot of The Fruit Brute!
Everybody hated Clippy, the talking A.I. paperclip face of Microsoft Office Assistant. I know I certainly did, but now with the benefit of hindsight it feels like Clippy might’ve gotten a raw deal on the whole matter. All he wanted to do was help you and me complete simple tasks that it was highly unlikely we didn’t know how to do already … was that so wrong?
Now Clippy is a mascot without a home, so maybe a movie of some kind would provide a new avenue for his existence. If nothing else, we could find out what he’s been up to ever since Microsoft summarily dumped him. Setting all snark aside, exploring the theoretical psyche of a program that finds itself being hated simply for doing exactly what it was designed to do could end up being genuinely poignant – maybe not Wreck-It Ralph poignant, but it’d be a start.
A few years ago, a movie about the founding of Facebook was a serious Academy Awards contender. This year, there are two movies cooking about the life of Steve Jobs, at least two features about Walt Disney (one confirmed with Tom Hanks in the role, another unconfirmed but presumed) and a Hugh Hefner biopic all coming down the pike. Contrary to popular belief, audiences like stories of rich people, providing they got rich making stuff they like.
Well, what’s more likable than food?
The first, most obvious go-to here is Dave Thomas, late of Wendy’s, who was by all accounts a pretty interesting guy. There’s also Colonel Sanders, late of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a classic self-made-man story if there ever was one. Speaking of self-made men, here’s a two-fer: Did you know that Chuck E. Cheese’s was founded by Atari founder and gaming-industry godfather Nolan Bushnell? Well, you do now. Also, deny it all you like, but I’m willing to bet that the story behind the early days of Hooters is fascinating.
The one I’d personally be the most geared-up for, however, would undoubtedly be the film that explained (or, at least, attempted to explain) what the hell General Tso – who it turns out was a real guy – had to do with that delicious chicken.
Don’t kid yourself: By now, more than one person in Hollywood has walked into a pitch meeting with the “big idea” of turning LOLCats or some other such thing into a feature film. “No, no, boss, you’re not hearing me on this. It’s not about whether or not he can has cheeseburger; it’s about what’s gained on the journey to cheeseburger!”
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you’ve heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.