PDF Version

For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202) 588-7746
For Immediate Release: May 7th, 2001

Commercial Alert Criticizes Movie-Length Ad Targeted at Kids

Commercial Alert gives “two thumbs down” to FOODFIGHT!, a movie-length commercial for children, packed with branded products and characters, including Twinkie the Kid, Wonderbread, Coke, Spam, M&M’s, Skittles, Mr.  Pringle, Tootsie Pops, Mrs. Butterworth and Duncan Hines. “FOODFIGHT! isn’t a movie - it’s an ad,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert.

Threshold Digital Research Labs (TDRL), which is producing FOODFIGHT!, boasts that it “incorporates thousands of products and character icons from the familiar packages of products in a grocery store.”

“If you want your kids to nag you and throw tantrums for products, this is the movie for you,” Ruskin said. “But we suspect most parents will think twice before spending their hard-earned money to have their children bombarded with two hours of ads.”

“FOODFIGHT! is a sick and pathetic effort to take advantage of young children for monetary gain,” Ruskin said. “It raises the commercial assault on children to a new level of brazenness. Some people will stoop to any level to make a buck, and sadly, FOODFIGHT! is an example.”

“FOODFIGHT! looks like a two-hour parade of junk food at a time when we have skyrocketing levels of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes,” Ruskin said.

Commercial Alert and its international network of activists will undertake a multifaceted effort against FOODFIGHT! While FOODFIGHT! is in production, Commercial Alert will (1) urge parents not to take their children to see it, (2) alert movie reviewers that this so-called “movie” is an advertisement and should be regarded as such, (3) ask movie theater owners to play something else instead, and (4) ask newspapers to list it under the category “advertisements” and not “movies” or “films” or “cinema.”

Threshold promises that FOODFIGHT! will be part of a sophisticated marketing effort at children. “This intellectual property marks the culmination of all we’ve been working towards; a huge film, web site, animation, toys-all financed and produced by TDRL and our worldwide partners,” said Threshold chairman and CEO, Larry Kasanoff.

“If a movie-length ad is the culmination of Threshold’s efforts, then it shows just how low the movie industry has sunk,” Ruskin said. “What happened to the days when movies were art, not endless ads for Coke, Twinkies and Spam?”

Threshold CEO Kasanoff is the producer of the Mortal Kombat franchise. “FOODFIGHT! is produced by the same corporate predators who brought your kids the gratuitous violence of Mortal Kombat,” Ruskin said.

Ralph Nader founded Commercial Alert in 1998 to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy.

Commercial Alert’s website is at http://www.commercialalert.org.


Following is Threshold’s April 30 news release.

International Consumer Packaged Goods Sign on To Globally Produced Digitally Animated Feature Film, ‘FOODFIGHT!’; Threshold Digital Research Labs Announces Participation Of Worldwide Brands, Animators and Suppliers For Groundbreaking Supermarket Epic

Threshold Digital Research Labs (TDRL), a subsidiary of intellectual property management and multimedia giant Threshold Entertainment, today announced the exclusive participation of the world’s biggest consumer brands in “FOODFIGHT!,” the most complex digitally animated feature film ever attempted. The revolutionary project presents hundreds of different sets and incorporates thousands of products and character icons from the familiar packages of products in a grocery store. The project brings together worldwide animators and suppliers and countless international companies in a unique and unparalleled venture resulting in a groundbreaking intellectual property of global scope and magnitude.

In an unprecedented move for any feature film, “FOODFIGHT!” has secured the exclusive rights to use products and character icons in the film from virtually all of the biggest consumer products companies in the world including:

—Proctor & Gamble (Mr. Clean, Mr. Pringle) —Interstate Food Brands (Dolly Madison, Twinkie the Kid, Wonderbread)-- Pepsi/Frito Lay (Chester Cheetah) —Coca Cola Company (Coke)-- International Foods (Chefboyardee)-- Hormel (Hormel Chili, Dinty Moore, Spam, Lumberjack)-- MBW Foods/Aurora Foods (Mrs. Butterworth, Duncan Hines, Log Cabin)-- Starkist/Heinz (Charlie the Tuna) —Post Cereals (Sugar Crisp, Alphabits, Raisin Bran) —Lipton Foods (Imperial Margerine, Ragu, Cup-A-Soup, Lipton Tea Man, Wishbone)—Kal Kan (Pedigree, Whiskas) —M&M Mars (M&Ms, Skittles)-- Uncle Ben’s (Uncle Ben) —Triarc Beverages (Snapple, RC Cola)-- Motts USA (Motts Applesauce)-- Tootsie Roll (Tootsie Roll Owl, Tootsie Pops)

Products and brands specific to various countries will be alternated in order to customize the film for a worldwide audience. Deals for toys, games, video games and merchandise are in the works. “FOODFIGHT!” shows us what really happens in the supermarket at night when the lights go out and all the people leave. Product icons come alive in a “wild city” and head towards the hottest club in town, the Copabanana. All’s well until Brand X moves into town.  The film follows the epic adventures of hundreds of internationally branded characters from the familiar packages of products including Mr. Clean, Twinkie the Kid, Charlie the Tuna, Mrs. Butterworth and new characters like Dex Detective from Cinnamon Sleuth Cereal and Daredevil Dan as they battle the evil Brand X for control of the store.

Threshold chairman and CEO, Larry Kasanoff announced the production, adding, “This intellectual property marks the culmination of all we’ve been working towards; a huge film, web site, animation, toys-all financed and produced by TDRL and our worldwide partners. This is the first movie made by a worldwide team, for a worldwide audience and customized for each country.”

Threshold has raised equity financing for the $50 million CG movie with an infusion of investment capital from Korean animation company Natural Image. TDRL is heading up the 3D digital production from its Los Angeles headquarters using its global network of animators. Other animators from numerous countries are linked to this network. This worldwide virtual studio enables TDRL to erase the vast distances that once separated Hollywood from amazing talent around the globe and cuts costs at the same time. The deal further positions TDRL as a premiere worldwide animation studio.

In another unprecedented move by any production company or studio, Threshold has also started production of a 3D animated prequel series, “FOODFIGHT!: THE ADVENTURES OF DEX DETECTIVE.” The 22 webisodes will run online approximately eight months prior to the film’s release.

The Lawrence Kasanoff/Threshold Digital Research Labs production in association with Natural Image will be executive produced by Joshua Wexler and George Johnsen, co-executive produced by Daniel Suh and Gregory Cascante, produced Larry Kasanoff and Alison Savitch, directed by Kasanoff and written by Brent V. Friedman and Rebecca Swanson from a story by Kasanoff and Wexler. Jim George is the Animation Director on the project.

Natural Image is backed by Korean companies Filmtree, Hahnshin Corporation, Bixel Media and Colorbank. Peter Choi, head of Koran public animation company Hahnshin, is President of Natural Image. “This is the most complex digitally animated film ever undertaken, with thousands of different characters and hundreds of sets. We’ve searched the world for the best talent and have found extraordinary 3D animation talent in a number of different countries,” continued Kasanoff.

The production of “FOODFIGHT!” also comes with the participation of top technology firms worldwide. The IBM Corporation’s Intellistation division is supplying Z Pro workstations for the creation of groundbreaking animation.  Done in full digital 3D, the animation will be the next step in the marriage of computer and the animation arts. IBM will also supply new generation scalable rendering hardware—the key technology that makes a feature film of this scope possible. Rendering will be facilitated through a combination of IBM’s high capacity Netfinity(R) 4000R server line and the Intellistation Z Pro and M Pro products. Over 200 workstations will be deployed for the project.  TDRL will use its partnership with Sprint to provide access to its remote artists on its worldwide network using a suite of communications tools.

Threshold Digital Research Labs (TDRL) is a groundbreaking digital asset production studio that produces 100% digital visual effects and animation for all forms of media including movies, TV and websites. The company has created and produced digital visual effects for movies such as “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer,” “The Faculty,” and “Dogma;” for TV commercials such as “Korbel Champagne;” and for TV series like “Mortal Kombat:  Conquest.”

Threshold Entertainment is the leading innovator in Intellectual Property Management specializing in Digital Media and representing some of the best-known entertainment properties in the world. The company develops brands for production and publication in film and television and on the Internet, retaining ownership of the digital assets.

Larry Kasanoff is chairman and CEO of Threshold Entertainment and producer of the $5 billion Mortal Kombat franchise. Formerly president and co-founder with James Cameron of Lightstorm Entertainment, he supervised production of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and executive produced “True Lies.”

Alison Savitch, President of TDRL, is one of the best visual effects supervisors in the motion picture industry. Her credits include “Terminator 2,” “Dracula,” “The Shadow” and “The Last Action Hero.” Savitch is Associate Producer and Visual Effects Supervisor for the movie “Mortal Kombat,” and Executive Producer of Threshold’s feature films “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” and “Beowulf.” Her skill at combining technology with entertainment, as evidenced in Threshold’s cutting edge animated video “Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins,” is virtually unparalleled.

Press information: Hanna Schmieder, 310-452-8899.

<------Threshold release ends here----->