Sure, the idea of making a movie based on emojis may seem like an of-the-moment cultural cash grab — but what if the Spotify mobile app also had a starring role? According to The Wrap, that's the plan for the upcoming The Emoji Movie, and it's just one of many brand partnerships that the studio is pursuing with the new film.
During last night's CinemaCon presentation, Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson took the stage to offer the first concrete details on the movie, and let's just say it was... interesting. "Did you know inside your phone there's a secret world?" she asked the crowd before explaining that the movie will apparently take place inside an actual smartphone, with the emoji themselves serving as characters living in "Emoji Valley." Things like a smartphone's home screen are all given physical counterparts in the world of the movie, with Belson mentioning that the studio has partnered with several major app developers for inclusion in the film, though no partners were named during last night's presentation.
Yes, the movie takes place inside a freakin smartphone. And they've partnered with big name apps for, I guess, accuracy. And #brands.— Bryan Bishop (@bcbishop) April 13, 2016
To be fair, this would also describe 'Tron'
Now, to be totally fair, it's probably a little early to be openly deriding the idea of a movie taking place inside of a phone. After all, the original Tron could easily be described as a movie about the secret world living inside your computer, and that film has achieved legendary status for its groundbreaking visual effects work and overall aesthetics. But focusing on #brands as an integral part of a movie seems to be putting the cart before the horse, and it's part of a larger trend from Sony. Don't forget, Sony was the studio behind last year's Pixels — if you really want to know how I felt about that one, you can experience my rage here — which was another movie that focused on a bunch of well-known brands as an integral part of its narrative.
To pull this kind of thing off requires a certain level of self-awareness, along the lines of what Phil Lord and Chris Miller did with The Lego Movie. What we're likely to get with The Emoji Movie is probably something more akin to the recent Smurfs films, but hey, Sony can always look at the bright side: it's going to have plenty of opportunity to surprise people if it turns out something that's actually good.