George Lucas definitely had the right idea when he kept the merchandising rights in his Star Wars deal.
Not only did it turn into a money making bonanza, but making toys out of the Star Wars characters was a no brainer, and the young fans of star Wars ate it up. Merchandising was still practically in its infancy then, and Star Wars absolutely revolutionized to where it's a huge secondary income stream for films.
This isn't to say that every merchandising idea for a genre movie was a work of genius. For example, fans didn't exactly buy Watchmen condoms in droves, and the E.T. video game from Atari was a legendary disaster.
In fact, the site Reelz.com just did a round up of bad movie merchandising ideas, and it's quite amusing to look back on today. (They also wrote, grimly, "Sadly we own some of this horrible stuff.")
The Watchmen condoms are as good a place to start as any, with the slogan, "We're society's only protector." They're also blue, because that's what color Dr. Manhattan was.
Next is the E.T. video game, which was a legendary head scratcher. At the height of the video game craze, how could Atari make a game based on the biggest money maker of its time, and it absolutely went in the toilet? Some even blame it for the company going out of business, but as we've reported here before, the cycles of the video game industry can be very extreme, and Atari went from its biggest year to practically going out of business not solely because of E.T., although the game surely didn't help.
Reelz also mentions the McDonald's Shrek glasses, which reportedly "contained the toxic metal cadmium, a carcinogen that causes kidney, lung, intestinal, and bone damage." Ooops! As a result, 12 million glasses were recalled.
And who could forget the Dark Vader burger with the black bun, and the Captain America Hydra sundae at Baskin Robbins, which is, "in other words, a Nazi sundae made of chocolate mousse royale ice cream, brownies, hot fudge, whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry on top. On second thought, a Nazi sundae doesn't sound that bad…"
Worst on the list? The Jar Jar Binks Mega Mouth Candy. "What's better than sucking a sugar-coated Jar Jar Binks tongue?" And indeed, this monstrosity looks like those dinosaur stick puppets, but here you get to suck on Jar Jar's tongue. Come to thing of it, practically nothing associated with Star Wars's most loathed character has ever come out right.
Reelz also put out the challenge to anyone who can come up with worse tie-ins to send them in. The Jar Jar one is pretty tough to beat I have to say, so they definitely raised the bar for this one…