Is multi-tiered corporate sponsorship the way of the future for cinema? Will it go beyond basic product placement and something more nefarious that seeps deep into the narrative of the picture? Will Taco Bell burritos with a deliciously disgusting Doritos taco shell become a plot point in “Transformers 4“? Undoubtedly you’ve heard about the sponsorship deal the new 007 film “Skyfall” made with Dutch beer conglomerate Heineken — a relationship thought of dubious to most fans of James Bond because of the secret agent’s well-renowned love of martinis, not Dutch beer.
Now corporate sponsorship isn’t anything really new in film, but it has been ramping up in recent years, perhaps most tellingly with the myriad of brands (U.S. military, General Motors, Nascar) featured in Michael Bay‘s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” The more expensive the blockbuster, the more extra scratch you need. In a 2011 interview with Forbes, Bay estimated it would have cost Paramount $10 million more if he hadn’t partnered with General Motors and the U.S. military to receive free cars, helicopters and other toys to destroy at his will. Now some will lament the fact and some (like Bay we assume) will fully embrace it.
And for Daniel Craig, the star of “Skyfall”? Well, he sounds like he’s in the former camp, and in a recent interview with the New York Times, suggests the sponsorship is a (possibly regrettable) neccesary evil. “We have relationships with a number of companies so that we can make this movie,” he said. “The simple fact is that, without them, we couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is.”
“This movie costs a lot of money to make,” he added. “It costs as nearly as much again, if not more, to promote, so we go where we can. The great thing is that Bond is a drinker, he always has been. It’s part of who he is, rightly or wrongly; you can make your own judgment about it. Having a beer is no bad thing; in the movie it just happens to be Heineken.”
Damn, sounds like the narrative of the character has been adjusted. Bond fanatics? Your move to judge.