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There have always been socially relevant films, but until the release of The Social Network today, none will have used widespread media/technology as the selling point for their film. Sony/Columbia Pictures, when they greenlit the project, essentially banked on the popularity of Facebook as their means of getting folks in theaters.
This weekend, we’ll know if it worked. And when something new works, everyone wants in. What will be next? Well, there are already plans for a Google movie – shocker – but that could be just the beginning. I had some fun with this idea and created a list of 10 (no particular order) popular technology/socially relevant movie premises that – for better or worse – could be viable if The Social Network finds success.
Premise #1: A group of fat geeky teenagers that manage to turn their lives around by playing copious hours of Wii.
It’s time someone wrote the Heavyweights of a new generation. Although this could be an idea for an inspirational reality show with obese kids turning their lives around through motion detection games such as Wii Fit, I prefer to see it as fat geeks realizing they can better themselves just by playing video games and the comic results that occur as they’re noticed by girls despite zero positive change in their social skills.
Premise #2: The true story of filmmaker Dan Woolley, who survived the earthquake in Haiti with his iPhone.
I kid you not. Woolley was in Haiti making a poverty film when the earthquake hit back in January. He was trapped for 65 hours and used a first-aid application on his iPhone to treat a compound fracture of his leg and a laceration on his head. He also used his digital SLR camera as a light under the rubble. If that’s not enough, here’s the emotional angle as provided by the TODAY show:
“knowing he could die, Woolley had written notes to his two young boys and wife … Opening the book and fighting his emotions, he read an entry he addressed to his sons, Josh, 6, and Nathan, 3: ‘I was in a big accident. Don’t be upset at God. He always provides for his children, even in hard times. I’m still praying that God will get me out, but He may not. But He will always take care of you.’”
The man is religious: hello box office numbers. Seriously, I bet someone already optioned his story.
Premise #3: I’m a Mac – and I’m a PC: The Movie
After all the Mac commercials and the “I’m a PC” response from the Bill Gates folks, I think this score needs to be settled in a 90-plus-minute epic instead of 30-second segments. Justin Long and John Hodgman are more than capable actors for a long-term war of words or perhaps extending the analogy into a vicious business comedy.
Premise #4: A horror film where the killer is … technology (gasp!). Like Eagle Eye meets Final Destination.
We’ve seen too many movies like Eagle Eye or Enemy of the State with using technology to spy on people (or a supercomputer) and we sure don’t need another movie where someone changes all the traffic lights to green, but a horror movie? Yes. Perhaps a GPS takes an innocent young woman in her car off a 400-foot cliff and right as the car slips over the edge says – in that gentle computerized female voice, “Destination ahead … bitch.” I think that example alone sells this movie. The tagline could be “Death: There’s an app for that.”
Premise #5: The true story of Napster: a titillating file-sharing courtroom drama.
Okay, back to something more along the lines of The Social Network. File-sharing has taken many forms in the 10-plus years since Napster (I myself was all about Kazaa), but it would be cool to visit the initial government tear against music piracy. Sean Fanning was just a young guy like Mark Zuckerberg who in college thought it would be cool to share music with friends – and then he got spanked, federally speaking. Perhaps more interesting is the way file sharing has continued to exist in spite of these P2P “services” being shut down.
Premise #6: A romantic comedy about a woman who keeps trying online dating to horrid results until she meets the guy of her dreams who it turns out was once sleeping with her best friend.
I feel like this movie is probably being made as I type these words. Predictable Hollywood twist of “once slept with best friend” aside, I’m kind of shocked that sites like eHarmony haven’t gotten the mainstream rom-com treatment by now to even the slightest extent. Today, we have the recently released indie film Catfish, but that’s more a documentary intrigue film about online relationships. I don’t want to seem like a self-righteous oracle, but I guarantee you this is not the last time we talk about “online dating/relationship” in movies whether that conversation picks up in a month or two years.
Premise #7: A 180-minute biopic of YouTube-user-turned-teen-idol Justin Bieber, starring Justin Bieber.
Perhaps nothing has become more of a social technology experience than the collective watching or link-posting of YouTube videos. Then there’s the other side: those who post videos of themselves to either advance their careers (I know people who have made a living on YouTube videos) … and no-talent clowns who post them so that they can feel as if they have an actual audience. Sadly or rightfully (however you look at it), just.01 percent of them become stars because of it.
Justin Bieber is one of those rare excpetions and he’s planning on doing a concert movie anyway, so why wouldn’t he just do an autobiopic (copyright dibs on that term) of his rise to fame. Sadly, you couldn’t convince most people to don that haircut and star as Bieber, so he’d have no choice but to do it himself. Oh, and even if it were just 90 minutes, it would feel like 180.
Premise #8: The story of Apple’s resurgence through the invention of the iPod.
It’s amazing how much our music-listening habits have changed in 10 years. As mp3 CD players began to hit shelves at the turn of the century, Apple had bigger ideas in mind and created a device that would completely corner the digital music market in a way no consumer product had ever done before. Considering this was at the height of Napster problems, Apple was indirectly encouraging greater file sharing by promoting digital music over CDs, which record companies were not happy about. Along the lines of The Social Network, that’s definitely making some enemies along the way.
If I were to tuck a black shirt into some jeans for any actor that might best portray Steve Jobs, I would probably say Stanley Tucci, Ed Harris or Andy Buckley (David Wallace from The Office).
Premise #9: The drawn-out demise of Blockbuster at the hands of Netflix and other smarter competitors – a straight-to-video film.
If nothing else, we could all laugh watching as Blockbuster continues to fail at everything they try to do. It would be cool to put a face on the company execs who spent 5-10 years fighting the most inevitable bankruptcy in the history of capitalism with nothing but a bunch of terrible half-baked ideas as Netflix (and even Redbox) manage to stay two steps ahead in the digital media market.
Sure, I had some good times playing on the Blockbuster playground while my mom picked out a movie to rent back in 1993 and they had a good selection of Transformers videos, but talk about a company that had it all and then decided to be money-grubbing pigs and sit on it until it was too late, never once investing in any future research to keep at the forefront. And, oh, so fitting if it were to skip theaters and go straight to DVD.
Premise #10: The story of how one filmmaker dared to stand up to his studio and fight for what he believes in: not letting his film be converted to 3D.
Occasionally, I’ll put up a picture with a post that simply is better than the post itself — you be the judge. Anyway, I think this is more of a fantasy I have so that this 3-D nonsense will end and only films that innovate with 3D will make 3-D films. The only filmmaker who has gotten his way so far has been Jon Favreau, so this would be based on him in theory and fittingly he could also star in this film.
The first logistical hurdle is that it would need to be independently produced and financed because no studio would agree to make a movie poorly portraying other studios or themselves. The second would be finding a filmmaker who would agree to make a film about defying producers and potentially be blacklisted by the major studios.
Either way, this would be a fresh and inadvertently humorous take on the “taking a stand” movie that I would quite enjoy.