You may have thought that the Morgan Spurlock documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was the first “all-product-placement film” ever made. But I don’t think a movie whose sole purpose is to sarcastically point out the proliferation of product advertising in society can really hold that title. I think that distinction needs to go to Sony Pictures upcoming Resident Evil: Retribution.
I was excited to see the first Resident Evil: Retribution trailer had posted online and eagerly clicked the link, expecting to see a scantily clad Milla Jovovich whipping up on a slew of monsters in new and unique ways, but typically I first had to sit through a 30-second commercial for some sort of new phone-tablet-camera-multimedia device thingy, set to the tune of The Who’s classic Baba O’Riley song.
My first thought was that not only has another classic rock anthem been sold out, but some idiot is using a song that comments on teenage drug use/abuse to sell cell phones… and then I suddenly realized that this commercial was in fact the movie trailer.
So what we have here is Sony Pictures using the first 30 seconds of a trailer for one of its film franchises, to sell and promote Sony multimedia devices, and it is all seamlessly blended together as one product. Most product placement in movies is done subtlety — usually — but the trailer for Resident Evil: Retribution hits you in the head with it, like Milla smacking down a zombie. After the in-your-face advertisement, what follows of the actual trailer is mediocre yawn-worthy action sequences that didn’t make up for, or distract from, the affront of the first 30 seconds.
Movie trailers are commercials for movies, and even though films, for the most part, are considered art, in the end they are products being sold by movie studios. Movie fans have become used to having to watch product commercials before the movie trailers online, and even in the theaters. So yes, we are now watching commercials for commercials. But has Sony Pictures crossed the line to where we are now watching a film trailer that is a commercial?
Maybe Pete Townshend was right and it’s all just a wasteland (teenage or otherwise). And maybe it’s all just another sign of the coming apocalypse. Oh, and if you want to see a commercial for that, check out this trailer!