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Nicolas Cage has made a few questionable career moves for money, but he has drawn the line at being the face of a snack food. Photos of a Deluxe Umaibo Nicolastick bearing Cage’s image from the critically panned Army of One made their way around the internet in early October.
On Oct. 11, FilmNation, international distributor of the Larry Charles-directed movie about one man’s hunt for Osama bin Laden, issued a statement repudiating suggestions that the star endorsed the corn-flavored snack, which was intended to be distributed to advanced ticket buyers (the film opens Dec. 12 in Japan).
“We were really surprised to hear this was being reported around the world. It wasn’t that our company or Riska, the manufacturer, just decided to make them. We were asked to do it by the film distribution company,” a spokesperson for Tokyo-based Yaokin, the Umaibo’s sales company, told THR. “We’ve done them for loads of films in the past, all the way back to a Sylvester Stallone one for Rambo, with no problems.”
Perhaps not expecting huge ticket sales, the distributor ordered only “about 600” Nicolasticks, which it is now withdrawing in favor of a less tasty postcard giveaway. A request for a sample of the Umaibo, which means delicious stick, was declined.
What provoked Cage’s change of heart about being associated with the snack brand remains unclear. In the early 2000s, Cage appeared in a series of commercials for Sankyo, a major manufacture of pachinko machines, in which he crooned at the piano and encountered aliens with pinball heads. The pachinko industry brings in more than $200 billion annually and almost 1 million Japanese are estimated to be addicted to it.
A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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