Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Commercialism in Film (The Wizard)

      We all know that an advertisement is meant to get people to buy a product, but there are other forms of commercialism that find a way to get their sails to attention of an audience. Product Integration is the term and it’s when a program revolves around a product. This is when a TV show or movie sub-consciously tells you to buy a product that’s featured in the show or film. Enter the 1989 motion picture titled “The Wizard”, a harmless little family flick but in reality, it’s a theatrical Nintendo commercial in disguise as a feature film. However, the product placement was almost to excessive for the films own good, because this movie was a rare case in which the audience was far more interested in the products than the actual film. The plot revolves around kids that participate in a big Nintendo game tournament, and from that synopsis on, we see kids playing popular Nintendo games, speaking in game lingo, showing off arcade games and sneak peeks to games that haven’t been released yet. The most notable teaser is when the kids play “Super Mario Brothers 3”, a highly anticipated NES game that wouldn’t be released for another couple months.  
         There are also moments in the film when kids would brag about owning every single Nintendo game available at the time and if kids watching the movie wanted to be as awesome as the characters featured in this film, they’d have to buy as many Nintendo games as their parents can afford. The best example of an advertisement in this film would be the introduction of “The Power Glove”. This was one of the very first game controller accessories for the NES, allowing you to play video games without a regular game controller. In the film, one of the challengers in the tournament shows off his skills by playing a racing game with it. Then the Power Glove is never mentioned again and has nothing to do with the plot. So you could have honestly chopped out those 40 seconds of the movie, re-packaged it to air on TV and there you go, it’s a commercial for the Power Glove.  
       Nintendo games weren’t the only things to get an indorsement in this film, for the climax, we get this big chase scene throughout the back lots of “Universal Studios”, showing off all the attractions and sets. It’s also no coincidence that the Universal theme park would open up for the first time in Florida that following year. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a scene when the characters visit the two big dinosaur statues in Cabazon California, a popular film set used in Tim Burton’s 1985 classic, “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”. Overall, “The Wizard” was a critical failure for fans and critics alike but it succeeded as Nintendo’s biggest advertising money maker and a perfect example of product placement in film.     

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