Movies and television shows are more than just entertainment. In a quest for the “wow factor,” directors often create ideas for products long before the technology is available to make them.
Take the 1902 short film, A Trip to the Moon (Voyage dans la Lune), which predicted travel to another celestial body before Neil Armstrong was even born. Or Agent 86’s miniaturized communication devices in Get Smart which foretold the coming smartphone age (although it missed the Angry Birds phenomenon).
Unless you work for Apple (at least in the Steve Jobs era), creativity in the product development world often falls somewhere below that of high school science classes.
However, product designers need to look no further than the top cult movies for inspiration. Here are five ideas to kick them off. Let’s just hope the products are ready for next year’s holiday season.
Endless Food: Soylent Green (1973)
The Film: In this dystopian film about an overpopulated future Earth, a police detective from New York investigates the bizarre origins of a much-needed food product called “Soylent Green.”
The Product: Soylent 1.0 food replacement, available online, $65 for a one-week supply
Status—In Stores Soon: The first shipments of this crowd-funded powdered meal are expected in January. Soylent 1.0 contains a mix of oat flour, maltodextrin, brown rice isolate, xantham gum, and gum acacia. Canola oil is added separately to provide healthy fats and complete the nutritional package. Still, there’s no mention of the movie’s secret ingredient.
Skinny Pants: Labyrinth (1986)
The Film: David Bowie, as the Goblin King, steals the heroine Sarah’s baby brother, forcing her to make her way through a bizarre labyrinth to rescue him. Bowie brings his rock star persona to the big screen, along with the tightest pants you’ll ever see.
The Product: Goblin King Skinny Pants, Urban Outfitters, $30
Status—Knock-offs Available: Bowie wasn’t the first—or the last—person to wear pants so tight that every minute anatomical detail is visible. Many companies offer skinny pants that will twist your testicles or become see-through as you squeeze into them. But if you want to find denim that can tightly house your own goblin king, you’ll have to wait for Urban Outfitters to get with the vintage program.
Intergenerational Dating Site: Harold And Maude (1971)
The Film: Teenager Harold, who compulsively fakes his own suicide, escapes his overbearing mother for a romantic relationship with Maude, a 79-year-old with a zest for life. This May-to-December-to-December romance digs deep into the meaning of human mortality.
The Product: GILF.com or GrannyDate.com, $19.95 for 30-day trial
Status—Keep Dreaming: While dating service eHarmony may steer you away from dating outside a psychologically determined age range, some sites—like milfaholic.com and cougared.com—make it easier to date older women. But what the world needs now is a dating site that caters to the multigenerational romantic age gap.
Ultra Laid-Back Bar: The Big Lebowksi (1998)
The Film: Lifelong slacker Jeff Lebowski—aka The Dude—cruises through life in suburban LA smoking, bowling, and taking things easy. Until his life is turned upside-down when nihilists urinate on his rug (“That rug really tied the room together, did it not?”).
Product: The Big Lebowski Bar, various locations, pay per drink
Status—Available Internationally: Inspired by this cult classic, Big Lebowski bars are popping up around the world, from Prague to Reykjavik. All of them offer The Dude’s signature White Russians—vodka-based cocktails featuring coffee liqueurs and cream or milk. If you visit, have a drink, put up your feet, and notice how the rug ties the room together.
Man Lingerie: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Film: After their car breaks down, a newly engaged couple pay a call to the truly strange house of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. This description of the movie, however, hardly does justice to this camp classic filled with double entendres, debauchery, and a cross-dressing Tim Curry.
The Product: Man Teddy and Merry Widower, Victoria’s Secret, $88 each
Status—Cross-Over (or -Dressing) Potential: In the movie, Tim Curry proves that even men deserve to look sexy. If Goth isn’t your thing, though, try something a little more classy in the bedroom like a teddy or a merry widow. Victoria’s Secret has what you need in a wide assortment of colors. But for now guys will have to make do with women’s sleepwear.