The Super Bowl is the one time of year the world looks forward to commercials. Most of the time, commercials are the tax we pay in order to get what we really want: Television shows with spaceships, magic or vampires, with lines like "Buffy, I'm here to kill you, not to judge you.” But sometimes we get commercials we can’t change the channel on ... because they're a part of the very movie we’re watching.
Writers and directors add commercials to their films because they’re very much a part of the here and now, and something as mundane as a television commercial makes the imagined sci-fi world we're visiting more real. These fake commercials are a convenient way to worldbuild without messy exposition.
And in some cases, such as Serenity, these commercials are part of the plot.
We found 19 funny, poignant and believable commercials from sci-fi movies (four of them Paul Verhoeven, who directed RoboCop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers). And we don’t have to pretend to watch the Super Bowl in order to see them.
Appearances are deceiving: Although it seems like a commercial designed to interest millions of viewers in purchasing Fruity Oaty bars, this ad was actually created specifically for River Tam. River gets the message, all right. So does the bar she beats up.
The caped crusader’s greatest enemy hijacks a television studio, and this is what he comes up with. Love that Joker!
This commercial is so true to life that if you’re a person of a certain age, you’ll be wondering if this is a fake or just something you missed between episodes of He-Man.
The Truman Show
Our protagonist, Truman Burbank, doesn’t know he’s in a television show. So how does one advertise in a show that isn’t supposed to exist? Watch how Laura Linney does it, and learn.
The in-your-face ad for life “off world” made a powerful impression when it was first seen in 1982. In fact, it inspired fan Jason Eaton to create this remarkable replica.
Director Paul Verhoeven gives a not-too-subtle nod to fascism in this 1997 movie based on a Robert Heinlein novel. In this recruitment commercial, we learn that there’s a war going on and it’s up to you to do your part.
Gleaning from clips of the “original” TV series Galaxy Quest, the editor of this video included the credits from the “new” TV show. It’s not quite an ad, but it’s too fun not to share.
Buzz Lightyear with karate-chop action?! We’re getting our wallets out right now.
Can’t afford the time and money for a vacation? Take a virtual one with Rekall. You can even visit Mars. Just make sure you haven’t been there before.
This commercial was never seen in the film, but savvy netizens (and Blastr readers) managed to see this viral video, released three months before Prometheus’ release. Here we get a thorough look at David, the artificial person who does what humans can’t—or won’t—do.
As our three favorite spook hunters reached some degree of success in their poltergeist-punching business, they made a commercial to advertise their services. Remember, they’re ready to believe you.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Why trouble yourself with all of those painful memories when this patented, non-surgical procedure can erase them? The movie delves into the consequences of the decision to wipe the memory of a failed love affair But the commercial is compelling nevertheless.
The Time Machine (2002)
Ads catch the eye of the viewer and make them pay attention to what you’re selling. In The Time Machine, this ad was so eye-catching that Dr. Hartdegen’s stopped in the year 2030 to watch it. Mission accomplished.
Wall-E is a Buy n Large product, designed to clean up the waste that Buy n Large left behind on Planet Earth. This brief history of BnL charts the company’s growth from simple frozen yogurt maker ... to leader in world politics?
Children of Men
This clip was created from advertising images, as well as news clips, in the underappreciated, so-bleak-it-hurts dystopian movie Children of Men. It’s a wonderful editing project and a wonderful homage.
These ads are targeted to the retina of the user—which is fine if you’re who you say you are. But if you’re trying to disguise your identity, these ads will call you out as quick as you can say “Mr. Yakamoto.”
The game Nukem! is the near-future equivalent of “You sank my battleship.” No word on whether Butler Brothers used real nuclear material in the making of the game … as the Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab did in 1950-1951.
Just when you think you’re watching a promo for a cheesy Godzilla movie, it turns out you're merely watching a cheesy car commercial.
If you didn’t think that Lexcorp made security systems, think again: This pitchman for the Magnavolt is none other than John Glover, aka Lionel Luther from Smallville.