After starting at Sundance, then to SXSW, then this week”s limited release, Morgan Spurlock is ready to go global with his message movie “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”
When I first pitched it the deal was that I would only wear it on television. But then I had the suit made, I was like, “How do I not wear the suit?” Because the suit is a spectacular extension of the movie and the conversation in a way that I think makes it grabbing.
Is there any part of your deal where, say, if you go and make your film and find out JetBlue has been killing gorillas in the Congo…
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect me at all. What happens though, if something terrible like that were to happen, or suddenly there’s a POM poison outbreak, the first person that will get a call is still me. Because I am still somehow associated with the brand, even to the extension of when the movie was.
So it was a risk even taking these on.
I got a call before we made this film to be the face of a new car launch. It was some sort of an environmentally friendly car. I thought it was a pretty amazing idea until one of my agents called me up and said, “Yeah, it’s a pretty amazing idea… until one of those cars explodes.” Oh yeah, Morgan Spurlock is the guy who says you should buy the car that explodes. I wasn’t worth it.
And these other sponsors are more solid.
Well with this film it’s different, because we own the film. We made the movie and the whole film is a comment. The film was a comment upon itself. I’m not the full face of these products. I’m the face of these products while they’re tied to the film. I’m not out hawking this stuff separate from the movie. Everything’s a tie-in. It’s straight co-promotion.
But having POM Wonderful on top of the movie title, that’s forever going to be the name of it.
Forever it will be “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” And now POM, as we were finishing the movie, got sued by the FTC. So what are you going to do? I’m not going to do anything. We’re going to put the movie out.
There’s making the movie with corporate sponsorship, which is now done, and now you’re sponsoring the town– you’re giving the money. How does that fit into the strategy?
Because I think it’s an extension of the comment of the film. You see in the movie, everything that we’re critiquing in the film all becomes everything we use to promote the film at the end. So this continues that narrative, continues this question of where do you draw the line between brands and your community. This asks the question, do we really want to live in a time when everything is brought to you by this sponsor.
But your movie is integral in that adoption. You’re moving across the line.
On purpose. Hopefully it makes people talk about it. Hopefully people don’t go, “Gosh, it’s a great idea, we should start selling all of our towns away.”
There’s going to be a Pepsi, Tennessee.
It’s already happening. That’s why people need to understand, and say where do we push back. In New York City they floated a bill to city council to sell off naming rights to parks and playgrounds. So what are we going to do, we’re going to go to the Bank of America Prospect Park? Do I take my little boy to the Mountain Dew playground, push him down the Twizzler Slide? I think there is a real conversation, and hopefully the irony doesn’t get lost.
And it seems like the mayor, everybody who’s been in involved in this specific renaming, is in on the joke. But is it a joke?
No, it’s not a joke at all. It’s much more scary. Ultimately we live in a time when municipalities are starving, they’re dying. Budgets are being cut all the time, they have no money. Schools have n money. So should we just let advertisers into schools? Oh, it’s great, corporations will come in, they’ll buy advertising, it’ll be so nice, they’re going to make up these budget gaps. Is that the nice thing? Do we want to open up the world to where kids go to Red Bull High? That’s where things are going.
Do you worry about the irony of this getting lost, say three or four steps down the line of people reporting about this?
I think that anybody who would believe that has not watched one frame of anything I’ve made in my life. I think it would have to be someone who has been living under an entertainment rock. I think that’s impossible.