Product placement can be a very distracting part of a movie, especially when it’s overused. We’re all familiar with characters sipping a Coke and then glancing knowingly into the camera, but it also can take focus away when a blatantly generic version of something is showcased, such as an off-brand Google.
Unfortunately, product placement is a necessary evil when it comes to big budget films, especially those that reach 9 figures, such as Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. But Blomkamp thinks he’s found a better way for product placement to enhance his film, rather than detract from it.
Product placement in any futuristic film is a tricky process, and Elysium is set in 2154, so the products of the world will likely be completely different than they are now. Basically, it’s fairly safe to assume people won’t still be driving Ford Focuses by the mid-22nd century (sorry Ford). So Blomkamp was tasked with finding products that not only might add a few bucks to his budget, but would also work in the world he created. In fact, for many of the products Blomkamp used, he wasn’t looking for money at all, he just wanted to get the right look for the movie.
Blomkamp explained what he was trying to do in a letter to Bugatti. Check out a quote from that letter below.
“This film has been an oddity in the product-placement world because I am not looking for any money from the brands we are using. I really want them because I [can] make the film better.”
Blomkamp wanted to use Bugatti specifically since he believed that’s the equivalent of the car the wealthy would be flying around on in 150 years. His request was granted and he was able to team up with Bugatti, so in Elysium we’ll get to see the wealthy flying around on luxury cars without wheels.
He also wanted to get the right car for the scenes on Earth. That vehicle ended up being the Nissan GT-R. Check out what he had to say about that choice below.
“The GT-R is one of the coolest high-performance cars for sale out there now. I wanted to make the GT-R the Earth’s version of a high-performance car.”
There are many more products used in the film than just cars, Kawasaki armor is worn by Matt Damon and Versace med pods are used by the elite class, but Blomkamp hopes every product he’s using enhances Elysium, rather than detracting from it. Hopefully his careful planning will show that product placement doesn’t always have to be awkward, and future filmmakers will take note.