Defictionalization is when something that previously only existed in a movie universe comes to life. Films and TV shows are now taking advantage of this more than ever before.
In the world of TV, Castle has spawned a series of books by Nathan Fillion’s crime novelist character; Parks and Rec has spawned a guide to Pawnee written by the characters themselves; and Archer is now releasing an album recorded by Judy Greer’s character Charlene (and not, apparently, by Judy Greer).
Here are ten great examples of fictional products from movies that became defictionalized in interesting ways:
10. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
In Forrest Gump, Bubba talks Forrest’s ear off about shrimp while the two are serving in Vietnam. After Bubba’s death, Forrest vows to revive his buddy’s dream of opening a shrimp company with Bubba. In the film (as well as the source novel), he makes good and creates a shrimp company worthy of Fortune 500 Magazine. Similarly, in 1995, the marketing division of Viacom (the parent company of Paramount which produced the movie) decided to partner up with the Rusty Pelican Restaurant Company (also owned by Vicaom) to create the restaurant chain. It has since become a massive success with 38 locations worldwide.
Because of this synergy, The Rusty Pelican chain was given access to the Paramount prop room to stock its walls with Forrest Gump memorabilia. Additionally, the chain had plenty of other kitschy Forrest Gump-related features including being able to hail your waitress with a “Stop Forrest Stop” sign and a menu that serves 12 shrimp-related specialties.
9. Be Kind Rewind‘s Mash-ups
The 2008 Michel Gondry film centers on two clerks (Jack Black and Mos Def) at a video store (for those of you too young to remember, it’s sort of like a giant Redbox with humans giving you the videos) who accidentally erase their video library. As a makeshift solution, they recreate Ghostbusters on home video, and when that becomes a hit, the duo creates a cottage industry out of it.
The film coined the term “Sweding” which is the process of creating an amateur low-budget remake of a big box office hit. The film’s closing credits encourage interaction and ask users to Swede videos themselves, but what started out as a trend on YouTube also spawned the SwedeFest.
8. Dystopian Companies
In the Terminator series, a mother and son try to prevent a future in which humanity will be imprisoned in the future by an artificial intelligence network called SkyNet. In the sequel, it is revealed that SkyNet will eventually be built by a present-day corporation called Cyberdyne.
By present-day, we’re referring to the fact that the film is set in the present even though it concerns the future. However, in our real-life present day, there is a multi-national tech corporation called Cyberdyne which was supposedly named without any hint of irony.
On top of that, Cyberdyne has named one of their main research projects (a cyborg suit designed to improve human movement) HAL.
7. Whistle Stop Cafes
Fried Green Tomatoes is based on Fannie Flag’s 1987 novel “Fried Green Tomatoes and the Whistlestop Café.”
The Whistlestop Café in the title is based on a café Flag visited in her youth called the Irondale Cafe in Irondale, Alabama. When the film came out in 1992, the actual cafe decided to capitalize on it by creating a line of batters, mixes, marinade, seasonings, cookbooks, and specialty items with that name “Whistlestop Cafe.” That’s not out of the ordinary.
What was out of the ordinary, however, is that the Ironside Cafe got some serious competition from the abandoned general store that was turned into a movie set for the filming of the movie. The owner of the property later turned the set into a real restaurant and filled it with memorabilia from the movie.
As a result, there are now two competing cafes capitalizing on the film. One restaurant can be found here and, to further the confusion, the Irondale Cafe and Whistlestop Product Line can be found here.
6. Star Wars‘ Midi-chlorians
In the long-time-ago and far-far-away galaxy where Star Wars is set, midi-chlorians are microscopic organisms that separate Jedi Knights from ordinary folks. The average human has 2,500 midi-chlorians per cell, while Anakin Skywalker has 20,000.
Meanwhile, in our present-day galaxy, Dr. Nathan Lo of the University of Milan discovered a parasitic bacteria living inside of the mitochondria of ovarian cells in 2004. It was originally named IridES1. but Lo decided he wanted a cooler sounding name and renamed it “Midichloria mitochondrii” in 2006 after getting permission from George Lucas himself.
Just like how the Star Wars midi-chlorians are an energy source, the midichloria mitochondrii bacteria have a symbiotic relationship with the mitochondria organelle which is considered the energy center of the cell.