SUNDANCE: Morgan Spurlock's 'Greatest Movie' Premieres, Lands 'Greatest Sponsors'
PARK CITY – Morgan Spurlock's new documentary is now called POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
Spurlock made the announcement after the film's world premiere Saturday afternoon at the Library theater while wearing a suit emblazoned with corporate logos. In the meta-doc, which examines the ubiquity of product placement and advertising through the lens of Spurlock's own efforts to land sponsors for his film, he conducts a nationwide search for a company willing to pay $1 million for exclusive naming rights. Beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi passed, but Los Angeles-based POM Wonderful pomegranate juice agreed to fork over the sponsorship fee, and its executives--along with those from several other brands that Spurlock convinced to back the film--joined the filmmaker on stage after the screening.
The film, which Sony picked up on the eve of Sundance and will release through its Sony Pictures Classics label, received a warm reception. It's a funny and inventive exploration of the booming business of product placement and marketing, and as he did with the fast food business in Super Size Me, Spurlock successfully puts a human face on a dry issue. In the process, he talks to the pillars of the "brand integration" trade and such consumer advocates as Ralph Nader, and he travels to Sao Paolo, Brazil, which recently outlawed outdoor advertising. The film also includes fun testimonials from such Hollywood creatives as directors Quentin Tarantino, JJ Abrams and Pete Berg, as well as WGA president John Wells, all debating the role that product integration plays in their work (director Brett Ratner elicited the biggest laugh of the group with this line: "Artistic integrity? Whatever").
Spurlock said during the post-screening Q&A that Sony Classics' marketing campaign will mirror the final stretch of the film, where Spurlock blankets the country promoting corporate tie-ins for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, JetBlue Airways, Ban deodorant and a chain of convenience stors called Sheetz, also appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live wearing the logo suit. Other sponsors are Merrell Shoes, Amy's Kitchen, Thayers Natural Remedies, Seventh Generation, MovieTickets.com, Carrera Sunglasses/Solstice Sunglass Boutique, the Aruba Tourism Authority and the Original Mane 'n Tail, a shampoo that can be used by both horses and humans (which leads to perhaps the film's biggest laugh, featuring Spurlock, his young son and a tiny pony in a bathtub).
Spurlock said he raised the film's entire $1.5 million budget via the sponsorships.