10 of the Weirdest Movie Merchandise Tie-Ins
I’m not going to talk about the Jar Jar Binks lollipop or include any more pictures. Everything else on this list is tame by comparison. I’ve done all the thinking about Jar Jar’s tongue that I ever care to do.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games franchise is no stranger to creative marketing. Their CoverGirl makeup line, for example, is either a clever send-up of the superficial Capitol values excoriated in the series or a tone-deaf acceptance of those same values, depending on who you talk to. Regardless, you get the sense that some thought was put into the collaboration. The partnership of The Hunger Games—a series where the elite force the starving 99% to fight one another to the death in exchange for food—and sandwich (“sandwich”) purveyor Subway? Not so much.
The Giver, The Weinstein Company’s long-anticipated and largely forgotten adaptation of Lois Lowry’s Newberry-winning classic, partnered with China Glaze for a line of branded nail polishes. “Nail polish” is pretty much the last thing that comes to mind when you think of The Giver, a book that depicts a future where society is so obsessed with uniformity and the absence of emotion that people have even lost the ability to see color. Still, it’s not that weird when you consider the movie leaned into the teen thing more than its source material, aging up its child characters and upping the romance quotient. (Oh, and casting Taylor Swift.) The real bit of WTF? One of the nail polishes was named “Release,” the term used in The Giver for the state-sanctioned murder of people who don’t fit into society’s grand plan. China Glaze literally named a nail polish after euthanasia.
Fifty Shades of Grey
“Want to leave her biting her lip with excitement? Send a gift that will dominate the rest.” Quick show of hands: Who thinks this Amazon product description is for a got-damn officially licensed 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear? I knew 50 Shades is kinky, but I didn’t think it was that kinky.
300/300: Rise of an Empire
For cosplayers and/or people who think jock sweat is an underappreciated boon to society as a whole, Museum Replicas sells officially licensed leather undies (sorry, “Spartan briefs”) from 300 (left) and its sequel Rise of an Empire. Rising has to be pretty tough in these.
File under: That time Mattel accidentally sold a sex toy. If you’re going to sell a toy version of Harry Potter’s Nimbus 2000, for the love of God, don’t make it vibrate.
I know adult coloring books are a thing now, but I’m preeeetty sure that’s no excuse for this series of Dune-themed coloring and activity books. I don’t know, maybe “You must take the pain test to determine whether you are powerful enough to overcome fear itself” was considered child-appropriate back in the ’80s. Everyone was doing a hell of a lot of cocaine back then. Coilhouse has more scans. You know you want to.
Ben-Hur ran a promotion with Frey, a specialized laundry detergent “carefully designed and meticulously crafted to fit the modern man’s lifestyle.” (“Today, men have their own hair products, grooming products, deodorants, and everything in between. Yet clothing products remain almost exclusive to women.” Yeah, because “ocean breeze” and “fresh linen” are so girly.) Frey hit a stumbling block when they began their Facebook post advertising their tie-in contest with “Want to win Ben-Hur tickets?” Hint: No one wanted to win Ben-Hur tickets. This is a move befitting a company named after the worst Game of Thrones house.
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid fish nuggets? There are some sick fucks at Disney. But it’s no sicker than the reality of The Little Mermaid, I guess. Ariel has married the heir to a seaside kingdom; even if she, personally, doesn’t eat fish after turning into a full-blown human, it’s not like she can make everyone else do the same. She’s going to see Eric digging into a lobster on their first anniversary, and she’ll have to ask herself: “Did I know that crustacean?” Best-case scenario, she somehow manages to convince Eric, his household staff, and his subjects that the creatures they’ve been killing and eating are, in fact, sentient; knowing this, one would hope that most of them would turn to other means of sustenance. But a good chunk of the local economy has to be based around fishing, right? And how easy can it be for Eric’s poorest subjects to fill the protein gap in their diet with a foodstuff that they’re not able to literally take a small boat out and catch for themselves? Ariel will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.