5. Hungry, Hungry Hippos
“I’m picturing a survival film set in central Africa, where a group of hunters meet up with some hungry hungry hippos.”
“Hey, they kill more people every year than sharks. Why not?”
“Or yo, how ’bout this… Axis vs Allies vs Aliens!”
“That’s already pretty much done as a Harry Turtledove novel series,” I replied.
“Harry Turtle-who?” G-Flow responded before being cut off by Brooke.
“You’re completely missing the point!” she replied. “You need to have a social message to be important! You need to say something!”
4. Hi Ho Cherry-O
“I’d do a film that follows a group of traveling day workers and their families as they struggle to survive, while saving enough to put their math-genius-of-a-son, Alberto, through college. Well, if you like to brutalize Spanish, then “Cherio” could be the math-genius-of-a-girl. Social awareness bonus points! Or how about this: The Settlers of Catan as a two-hour-long documentary about proper management of natural resources—with Al Gore narrating!”
“That all sounds really, really boring.” Russell retracted his hand from the twenty-piece Chicken McNuggets he was sharing with his wife. Wait a minute!
“For years, ancient societies have been borne and vanished into thin air, but the secret Yahtzee society has survived through it all. To join, you must take part in a strange ritual of rolling five-of-a-kind with dice. It’s like Skull and Bones, or the Illuminati, but with more gambling. Maybe a down-and-out gambler with a drinking problem and a quick wit stumbles across the order and gets initiated into it. I’m thinking Robert Downey Jr. And the society is run by a dapper, yet mysterious figure, played by Alan Rickman! They’d have to fight a global conspiracy of some sort, of course. And you have a conspiracy nut who is trying to blow the lid off the organization, played by… hmmm… I’m thinking Gary Busey.”
“Or check this title out: ‘Uno: There can be only One.’ It’s a Mexican wrestling drama. You could use the colors and numbers, get the grandson of El Santo on board, make it to the death. It’d be amazing.”
“You and your violent movies,” June replied shaking her head, an errant french fry taking wing from the corner of her mouth. “You need more romance. That’s what really makes money.”
“Extreme movie buff Charlie has never been in love. But when the Complete Romance edition of his favorite game comes out, the completist in him can’t resist even the genre he despises. When he starts playing the game, it seems only he can hear the special messages left for him by some of today’s most popular rom-com actresses. Is he crazy, or is a tiny on-screen version of Kate Hudson falling in love with him? And how can they get her out of the game… and straight into his heart?”
1. Battleship II
There was a stunned silence when June finished. Our time was up, and I knew I should be angry as it ended without having accomplished anything I needed. My mind swam with what I had heard. All of these ideas were so pervasively awful that they made a full reversal into genius territory. If this focus group truly was a cross-section of American society, these movies would be cinches to succeed. So many more ideas fought for space in my brain.
Chutes & Ladders could be a gritty police drama with lots of Parkour. Dungeons & Dragons would be a Lord of the Rings-style, four-hour epic, three and a half hours of which is spent on setting up the plot and the characters, and at the climax of the film, everyone dies after a cave-in just as they begin their journey. Movie bloggers would go absolutely insane.
Even more crazy fever dreams vied for attention. What if you did Candyland like Lord of the Rings instead? And what if you put Adam Sandler in it? The balls of craziness were slapping the ass of stupidity hard enough with that idea that there’s no way it wouldn’t make a cool billion! Maybe we could get Sir Ridley Scott to direct one of these… like Monopoly! And it’s like Alice in Wonderland for some fucking reason. Why not? The sky was the limit, and even that wouldn’t hold me down for long when I found and kicked it square in its sky testicles. Wait, wait! I could even salvage this test screening and the Battleship franchise to boot. What it really needed was a sequel, and I knew just how to do it: Electronic Talking Battleship.
It’s the same movie but really hard to figure out without parental guidance. We’ll just take the same film-print and add disembodied, poorly-recorded narration. We could translate the dialog into Japanese and then back into English. It’ll cost nothing and make $200,000,000 overseas, guaranteed!
I ended the session there, leading the test-audience out of the room, which I shut quickly behind them. I needed a moment to myself as a feeling of sheer power and sexual energy filled my soul. “I could do this… I could do this…” were my last thoughts before passing out from excitement. Upon awakening, I reflected upon my day. Better than average, I concluded. I slipped the surveys into the manila folder that I would guard like a she-wolf would her pups. Tomorrow was the 24th, and as it happened, I had a meeting with the bigwigs. For the first time in my life, I felt ready.