We know that merchandise is not just a great promotional tool for music, it is for all fields and that includes the film industry. However, just like in the music industry, a merch can be a hit or miss. So you better come up with great ideas and have an excellent custom merch maker to pair it with.
If you’re a filmmaker looking for cool and unique ideas, this list is for you.
Hopefully, this will help you know what type of merch ideas you should put in the trash bin or put on to the next step of planning.
Here’s a list of 20 movie merchandise that would make anyone scratch their heads and go “what were they thinking?!”
#1 CASKET OR URN – STAR TREK
Star Trek is a science fiction film that gives us some kind of hope for the future of humanity. So it was quite a surprise when the production released merch which can be utilized by people during death.
I think what they’re trying to say with these merch items is that even though they do have hopes of a brighter future for human civilization, they can never deny that our time on earth is borrowed. You can’t deny that these resting places look cool and very outworldly, especially the alien-like made urn.
#2 ICE POP MAKER – STAR WARS
Star Wars is fondly remembered for the Darth Vader and stormtrooper masks as well as the famous lightsabers. It generated both shock and excitement when the ice pop maker with lightsaber hilt was released to the public.
The merchandise idea was a genius one, no one would have thought of it. Not only is it a unique idea, it also is a really good one since it helps kids and fans have fun while eating their home-made ice pops.
#3 CONDOM – TWILIGHT
This one’s quite a disturbing one. Etsy released tons of Twilight merch that leaves you shocked and, quite frankly, disgusted. One of those is this Twilight condom.
Twilight is known for its classical love story between a vampire and a human in the modern times. These disturbing merch items, including diapers and edward-shaped tampons, is just not a good way to promote the film.
#4 SCENT CANDLE – JAMES BOND
We all know fictional characters James Bond and the film series that follows his mission as an intelligence officer. So when Tocca, a high-end candle company, released scented candles during the release of the 1962 James Bond film Dr. No, there were surprised looks.
It’s honestly not the brightest idea since most men, most especially James Bond film viewers are really not into buying candles. It was most likely a waste of resources and effort.
#5 “300” LEATHER BRIEF – THE 300 SPARTAN
The film The 300 Spartan was a film that showed the courage and strength of 300 Spartans against thousands of Persian enemies as they killed thousands of them until none of them were left.
Any man would want to be the same as the 300 men who fought valiantly, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want to wear these leather briefs. Maybe they’ll do it in a costume party, but definitely not on a daily basis.
#6 PHONE – THE MATRIX RELOADED
As the Matrix becomes unstable and starts to deteriorate in performance, it leaves the virtual world’s system at a great risk of crashing which would kill and destroy everything. To avoid reaching this point, the Matrix must be reloaded or rebooted.
During the film’s release Samsung released the SPH-N70. It actually looks cool and has this old tech vibe. Unfortunately it’s no longer in stock, since it was met with lukewarm reactions from fans.
#7 PLAY SHAVING SET – TRANSFORMERS
Transformers is one of the most popular franchises worldwide and that has to do with how these Transformers can turn into cars which many kids find cool. It’s really not great merchandise to have but it will do.
The shave set is a good way for small kids to practice shaving, though that feels like a waste of money.
#8 VERSACE SHOES – ALICE IN THE WONDERLAND
Alice in Wonderland is a film that takes place in the fictional place called Wonderland. In Wonderland everything’s unnatural, from talking animals to disproportioned human body parts. It’s a chaotic but beautiful world.
Versace released shoes that matched the unnaturalness of the film. It was thought of as gaudy and uncomfortable, but when you look at the shoes they simply just suit Wonderland. It’s a great addition to a collection of shoes.
#9 TEETH – AUSTIN POWERS
Austin Powers is a character from the film of the same name and he is known for his prominent upper teeth. But even so, it was actually still surprising that these fake teeth products were released.
#10 CONDOM – WATCHMEN
Another condom merchandise is from the film watchmen. There’s really nothing else I can say but WTF. How did they come up with the idea of promoting the film through condoms? It just seems so unrelated.
#11 NECKLACE – THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE
The Human Centipede film is one that shows the ultimate punishment for convicted criminals, being a part of the human centipede. The film has very gory scenes and to have a necklace of the gory punishment just doesn’t look so cool.
#12 JAR JAR BINKS TONGUE LOLLY – STAR WARS
This is by far the most surprising and the worst merchandise ever released. The lollipop tongue is just too much. It would be really weird sucking it, more so seeing someone sucking it.
#13 ALARM CLOCK – THOR
Thor’s dumbbell alarm clock is such a cool merch item to have. It is surprising to see that the alarm clock is in the form of a dumbbell though instead of Mjolnir or Stormbreaker.
#14 BLACK FLAK BUBBLE GUM – RAMBO
The black flak bubble gum merch for the film Rambo is not that great as a promotional tool so it’s quite shocking to have it manufactured. Even so it still a good gum to chew on so it’s not that much of a waste.
#15 MONOLITH ACTION FIGURE – 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
The monolith of the film has an available action figure. It’s a little bit surprising that they released this when the monolith is just a block of steel or something.
#16 MEAT PUNCHING BAG – ROCKY
The film Rocky is focused on the life of the eponymous main lead and how he keeps moving forward until he reaches success. One of the most memorable scenes would be when the character is seen punching meat, where the merch above is inspired.
It’s quite shocking really, to think that this was merch worthy, when in reality it really isn’t. It’s just a waste of money.
#17 TRANSFORMING ACTION SET – ALIENS
Alien is an intense horror film that will keep you at the edge of your seat. With the release of the film, transforming action sets were also released. The set was quite surprising because who would have thought of having a miniature set based on the classic horror film.
#18 MCDONALDS POISON GLASSES – SHREK
The Shrek movies up until the latest film are known for their comedic theme and that’s what makes the movie and it’s characters forever lovable. These shrek glasses are actually neither good nor bad since it’s common to have children’s characters designed on utensils.
What’s surprising here is that McDonalds used clear glasses which is the uncommon thing here because the usual ones have a solid color background.
#19 LETTERS TO E.T. BOOK – E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
The film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was a film directed by Steven Spielberg which follows the story of a boy who builds a friendship with an alien. It’s a very magical film that appeals very well to young audiences.
The Letters to E.T. was released by Spielberg and contained letters that fans wanted to send to the extra terrestrial star of the film. It was a good call to have those letters collated and put in a book because people, especially those who had their letter/s on the book, find reading it very nostalgic.
#20 CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY BOOK – DUNE
The children’s activity book for the film Dune was okay, but not for promotional purposes. Dune Is an epic science fiction film with scenes with violent imagery and provocative content making it a PG-13 film.
The target of the movie and the target of the activity book do not coincide which makes it a failed promotional merchandise. It was an unexpected one actually since they clearly have different target markets.
Are you a filmmaker who wants to make some weird merch? Give us a call!
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA.