Pitching Robot Unicorn Attack as a real Movie
by Bret Dorman
As I look around at websites looking at layouts, designs, and content (doing research for possibly my own site) I keep coming back to [adult swim]. For some reason there is something that I love about this company (hint: that something is everything). And upon my recent visits I’ve decided to cave in and play one of their many games that I’ve for too long now been afraid to play:
A name like Robot Unicorn Attack just seems like combining two ‘random’ and cool things in an ironic way to get a cheap laugh and then adding ‘Attack’ at the end which is even cooler. Plus I don’t really like online games that are too overly complicated and require a lot of attention. Online games should be simple and fun. Leave the complexities to games like Metal Gear Solid.
Yet upon playing Robot Unicorn Attack I was bombarded with rainbows and fairies and rock stars (stars made of rocks) and purple grass/skies and glittering dolphins. You don’t get three lives at the beginning of play, you get three wishes. You’re encouraged to ‘shoot for the moon’ and ‘follow your heart’. Sound like a Lisa Frank folder for middle school girls with braces who swoon over the youngest Jonas Brother? That’s the fun.
And don’t forget the music. Always by Erasure. If you heard this song on your friends iPod you’d cringe. If you heard this song at the end of a bad Rom Com you’d laugh. You listen to this song as you constantly gallop, jump, dash, double jump, and rack up points in a mystical land of Flash Game awesomeness and you can’t help but rock out. [adult swim] is great at finding something weird and not saying “Hey look at this weird thing it is weird right guys?!” but “Hey this is awesome and so are we!”
Now that you are familiar with Robot Unicorn Attack and have hopefully had at least three wishes and some simple and easy fun, let’s get to the point.
Hollywood is as of right now currently working on scripts for… Monopoly, Candyland, Angry Birds, Lego, Where’s Waldo?, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, and most shudder inducing… Farmville.
If they can make movies out of these properties… why not Robot Unicorn Attack? The internet already helped propel Snakes on a Plane to the NUMBER ONE MOVIE IN AMERICA!!! And [adult swim] has the kind of following that could create some serious internet buzz.
But Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters only grossed 5.5 mil in theaters you say? Laugh as much as you want, but that’s pretty good for a rated R animated movie based on a fifteen minute cartoon series that runs after 11pm and had to deal with some fairly rough press after a viral marketing stunt went wrong and people mistook their light up signs for bombs. Oh, that and the movie only cost around $750,000 to make.
So how do we successfully adapt RUA into a movie?
1) Keep it simple
Easy. This movie doesn’t need to be live action. Nor ‘mo-caped’ like the latest Cameron or Spielberg film. Nor computer animated like Pixar. Nor even good looking 2-D animation like Miyazaki. It can be simple cartoon drawings.
Also, we don’t need to hire any big names to play the voices. Perhaps getting a big name or two by ‘pulling in a favor’ or something and having them read a couple of lines as cameos, but over all we’re making a RUA movie. Getting Brad Pitt or Natalie Portman won’t make anyone want to see this movie more than they already don’t.
2) Know your audience
Your audience is NOT: little girls, families with little girls, teenage girls, little girls, the elderly, boys who like to play with dolls, or little girls. Your audience is young college students who like TV shows about talking food. Perhaps some gays and lesbians based purely on the overusage of rainbows.
The Story: A magical realm of weird do-gooders (a la The Smurfs or Carebears) is placed under threat after a malevolent being needs to take over their land. The do-gooders do something they swore they would never do, use technology to make the ultimate weapon. They create the silent but deadly Robot Unicorn, a creature so fierce it destroys everything in its path with rainbows, kindness, and love. (At some point the Robot Unicorn can be persuaded by the malevolent being to join his side, after all technology can’t be trusted. This way we can also work in the ‘Heavy Metal’ version of the game.) Ultimately the Robot Unicorn accomplishes its mission and destroys the malevolent force (decapitation through rainbow blast?) but the Robot Unicorn doesn’t know when to stop. It has no soul. It runs amok and destroys more stuff and the do-gooders must destroy it.
It’s like a Disney cartoon meets Pale Rider meets Terminator. Fuck Yeah!
3) Let the fans do most the work
Write a script. Make a trailer. Put the trailer out there on your site and as fans comment, listen. Of course, for legal reasons we’ll have to have them click on something saying anything they say can be used by [adult swim] in the movie but just tack that at the end of a long Terms of Agreement before they watch the video and no one will know. They’ll come up with plenty of jokes and fun. I’m sure the guy who wrote the line “I’m sick and tired of these Mother Fucking snakes on this Mother Fucking plane” is constantly bragging to everyone he meets while they say “yeah… I’m sure YOU’RE the one who thought of that… okay buddy…”
When it comes time to advertising, do some more wacky online stuff and let the media and other sites go crazy with your idea. If you keep the budget low you don’t need to make too much to make your money back. Kevin Smith recently had success doing things a little bit differently by taking Red State on tour and using his followers to increase awareness. Plus I’m sure there are a lot of people who would buy RUA merchandise as jokes for themselves or friends or loved ones.
In Conclusion, this is a very serious approach at taking an idea as completely bat shit crazy like turning an online Flash Game from a program block that runs adult material late night on a kids network into a full length feature film. You may laugh or scoff at the idea, but you won’t be scaughoff-ing when you see in movie theaters one day a preview for a movie based on Solitaire, Rock-Paper-Scissors, or even Tetris. At least Robot Unicorn Attack will have decapitations, fart jokes, and probably some do-gooder animated nudity.
UPDATE: I have written a Treatment AND Outline based on the original ‘Story’ idea from this post. Check it out!