Sundance 2011: Spurlock's 'Greatest Movie Ever Sold' is Fantastic
by Alex Billington
January 23, 2011
Anyone who watches TV or movies is inherently familiar with product placement. It's prevalent everywhere you go and in nearly every movie we watch, especially as marketing becomes more and more intrusive. But no one has ever tried to make a documentary about that, funded entirely with product placement, until now. Morgan Spurlock, the acclaimed documentarian behind Super Size Me and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden, premiered his new documentary titled The Greatest Movie Ever Sold at Sundance and damn was it awesome. Never thought I'd use the word "awesome" to describe a documentary, but this deserves it!
Without giving anyway too much, the film, being released in March/April, is officially (and legally) titled POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Yes, he did actually fund and make the movie entirely with sponsorship and product placement, but it's a very entertaining and fascinating look into that world and how it all works. At the base of Spurlock's concept is the consideration that big blockbusters like Iron Man and Transformers, which were huge hits, have all kinds of product placement that helped make them successful. So if he wants to make a "doc-buster", he needs tons of product placement, too. Right?
Spurlock not only address the dilemma of product placement, as it's all too often
sometimes intrusive and excessive, but he slams the door wide open for audiences to follow as he tries to - and in the process does - make a movie full of product placement. It's one of the most meta films you will ever see, mostly because Spurlock completely transparently shows us what it's like to pitch this film, take meetings with companies looking to sponsor, and actually fit product placement into his doc (complete with actual commercials and lots more promotion to come when it's released). It's fascinating and thoroughly entertaining and incredibly funny, too. If I can say this and get away with it, I think he truly knocked this one out of the park. I loved it!
What he achieves so well with this doc is providing us with an unobstructed perspective on how advertising and product placement works. It seems like a film that no major corporations or studios want anyone to see, because it shows exactly how they take advantage of audiences, but I suggest everyone see it. Spurlock is one of those guys who not only comes up with a captivating concept and does an amazing job of exploring it in full detail, but takes it and runs with it as fast and far as he can. We're in for an experience once this hits theaters, as there's going to be plenty of real life cross-promotion to come, but that's what makes it so great.
Alex's Sundance Rating: 9 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 20 Comments
"He slams the door wide open"--nice one Alex. 😉
Modern American Man on Jan 23, 2011
he is a genius, i loved Supersize me...although i felt terribly hungry at the end and went straight to a fast food joint...but that aside i look forward to seeing this as a massive movie fan and someone who likes to point his kind of stuff out to people !!!! Bring it on... This quote has been brought to you and sponsored by...
Buddyboy on Jan 23, 2011
During Super Size Me, I realized I hadn't had a Big Mac in years. I made it my goal to have one as soon as I could. The Big Mac I had was glorious.
Josef on Jan 23, 2011
looks to be hilarious, can't wait to see what products are gonna be all over this one
darthmaul1 on Jan 23, 2011
It sounds really interesting, but one sentence troubles me: "Never thought I'd use the word "awesome" to describe a documentary, but this deserves it!" PLEASE tell me this isn't the first documentary you've seen that you'd describe as 'awesome'. You have an awful lot of catching up to do if that's the case.
John Madden on Jan 23, 2011
Michael Moores Docs are good and are eye openers, his are so well known they practically don't count though 🙂
ChrisC5g on Jan 23, 2011
No problemo - it's all pretty mainstream stuff, and it's just a list of my favourites. If you've seen them all, and don't think they're awesome... so be it. Anyway: - The King of Kong - Man On Wire - This Film Is Not Yet Rated - The Fog Of War - The Thin Blue Line - Outfoxed - Helvetica (admittedly this one is awesome if you're a font/design dork, but probably incredibly dull if you're not) I had more when I posted that first comment last night. If/when I remember them, I'll post again.
John Madden on Jan 24, 2011
Everything I look at these days is an advert trying to sell me something, I don't buy any of it because I have no money so it doesn't bother me. My kid does have a lot of Toy Story toys so somehow they fucked me on that but that is the ultimate product placement for children. I watched a Ryan Reynolds film last night that for a great part of the film he wears a VW hat for no good reason, it's balls but no-one cares.
Crapola on Jan 23, 2011
I always thought the VW hat in question was a gag based on the character's initials. Call me naïve...
John Madden on Jan 24, 2011
I don't mind subtle placement...I mean, in real life we all do it ourselves and mention brand names in conversations.
Cold417 on Jan 23, 2011
The irony is, the only way this site is able to continue is because of the flying super mario ad in the top left corner. I wouldn't pay for FS.net would you? Gotta love advertising.
Don't be Silly on Jan 23, 2011
How does it not make sense? You go on about marketing in your article in a negative tone, but you find this site through ads. You're being called a hypocrite. Then you got all butthurt. Seems pretty cut and dry to me.
Nick Rayner on Jan 24, 2011
haha, plus Billington said "you're" instead of "your". C'MON BILLINGTON, YOU WRITE FOR A LIVING.
Dudeman on Jan 24, 2011
You guys are dicks. If you have nothing constructive to say, shut the fuck up.
No on Jan 24, 2011
Wow, this is integrity at its finest. The person who made the "Don't be silly" comment really doesn't accuse FS of doing anything wrong - more, they describe why product placement / advertising often is very important. Billington furiously and mysteriously replies defensively (with a bunch of hilarious grammatical and spelling errors to boot) - two posts give him flak over the absurdity of this post and he deletes them. At least he fixed his post and removed the numerous errors. Billington, you structure this site as if it's news, that's what drives your hits, thus your income - we can come and see what the latest in film is. You aren't special because your opinion is sought after - we go to Ebert for that. Very quickly you jump to the "oh this is my BLOG where I post my OPINIONS" whenever your opinions cause drama. Vaguely disappointing for your readers, but it's still easy to ignore the dreck and still easily scan the headlines for interesting news. However.. then censoring people replying to your opinions because you don't like the content of their posts? Have you considered what that kind of behaviour is actually called?
Dudeman on Jan 24, 2011
I think "Dont be Silly" is simply saying is that advertising is everywhere and put certain things together, its all just part of how things work, in this case eCommerce, no one site more so than the other. How is this is a jab at FS.net let alone an indication of jealousy?
Voice of Reason on Jan 24, 2011
Statistically Spurlock is hit-or-miss with me. SSM was great, but the OSAMA pic was crap. His segment in Freakonomics was good; so that said, I'll give this a go, in fact I'm quite into it....but Spurlock does not yet have my trust as a great documentarian for me to buy into this glowing endorsement from FS.net
Voice of Reason on Jan 24, 2011
This film sounds good, I wish there was a trailer to it. I don't mind product placment in movies, mostly because I'm a penny pincher and wont go out and buy there junk.The only place i do hate it is on web sites. Every time I try to watch a movie trailer, "BAAM" a car insuance add, I visit a news web site, "KABOOM" a megazine subscription offer for as low as 1.99 a month, a porn site, "WHACK", penis cream to make your junk......well, you get the point. I hope he puts the "KAPOOW" on some of this with this Indie Doc. Sorry about all the BAAM's and what not, just read a comic book.......with 10 ad placments in it. Now if you don't mind, I'm going to rent a movie on NETFLIX and buy some of that cream for my junk and maybe a that Jack Sparrow action figure thats posted on this sites ad window.
Apoc on Jan 27, 2011
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