September 29, 2010

Cinema's Top Ten Fake Domains

With The Social Network coming to theaters this Friday, it got us thinking about cinema and the web. From the dot-com bubble of the late 90's, websites have become a central feature for many movies since, whether in plot or as a means of generating pre-release, viral buzz. From characters working at Internet startup companies, to some of the more clever fake websites created as part of a movie's overarching viral marketing campaign, we take a look at how the web is translated onto the big screen. We also test each URL in our browsers to see what lies ahead when hitting these sites in real life.

1. Lougle - as featured in Hot Tub Time Machine

What do you do when you travel back to the 1980s via your hot tub time machine? Why, you stay there and capitalize in your knowledge of the next 25 years, of course. This is exactly what Rob Corddry's character, Lou Dorchen, does; and when the rest of the gang travels back from the '80s, we meet up Lou and discover that he spent those years founding the largest Internet search engine, branding it Lougle. In fact his company even created it's own familiar suite of products, including Lougle Maps. Lou also goes on to be the founding member of '80s hair-band Motley Lou, but that just raises further questions.

Googl'd: redirects a Twitter account for a guy named Lou (go fig!) and his rather uninteresting tweets about where he recently "checked-in" via Foursquare. The first hit from Google? Lougle's Facebook Page. We also found this site, which is more up-to-speed of what we'd expect, though still a rather half-assed Google spoof that must have seen its better share of traffic in the month's succeeding the movie's release.

2. & & - as part of 2012

2012 certainly is the mother of all disaster movies. The world is ending, and director Roland Emmerich throws everything at us: behemoth tsunamis, incredible earthquakes, crumbling monuments, and L.A. getting eaten by Mother Earth, herself. When the first teaser trailer to 2012 came out, the tagline simply said "Google 2012," and interspersed with crazy real-life blogs about 2012 conspiracies, were distributor Sony's ambitious viral marketing campaign. That first URL is for an organization set up to prepare the world for annihilation, the second is a blog based off of the rantings of Woody Harrelson's looney character, and the third is for John Cusack's character's novel as mentioned in the film (the excerpted first chapter is actually a riveting read).

Googl'd: While the movie has since left theaters, these websites are still up and running, now branded as part of the "2012 Movie Experience" so not to confuse anyone of any real happenings that may occur when the real 2012 comes around.

3. - as featured in Knocked Up

In Knocked Up, Seth Rogen's character Ben Stone and his buddies have a clever concept: a website that documents the exact moments when actresses get nude in movies. Certainly such as site would save time for pervs everywhere. It's an idea so genius that they spend half the movie building it until they realize that such a site already exists. D'oh!

Googl'd: Of course, the URL redirects to Mr. Skin. Clever marketing.

4. - as featured in Superbad

The site that Jonah Hill's character, Seth, wants to subscribe to, as mentioned in the beginning of the film, is a funny spoof of domains registered by porn companies, and play on the title of a famous sci-fi movie from the 1960s.

Googl'd: Thankfully, this article is being written on a personal computer, otherwise there'd be some 'splaining to the boss. The domain is sometimes spelled with a dash, as seen in that quote on IMDb. That site is parked. Take out the dash, and you'll go to the movie's official website. Whew!

5. - as featured in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

In this Internet age, everyone's a movie critic, and Kevin Smith takes aim at movie websites with this fake site from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. In Kevin Smith's ViewAskewniverse Jay and Silent Bob are stoners turned semi-popular comic book characters, with the aid of their cartoonist friend Banky Edwards (played by Jason Lee). When Jay and Silent Bob learn that not only is a movie filming based on their comic book characters, but they're also not going to see any royalties, they set out across the country to put an end to it and reclaim their name. But, what really sets them off on this cross-country trek are comments from this site that they take a little too personally. So much so that in the end these commenters--mostly kids, of course--get their comeuppance.

Googl'd: At one point the site did exist, along with fake "real" content, including the article and comments mentioned in the movie, as well as Jay and Silent Bob's reply. This was part of the film's viral marketing campaign, in an age when viral marketing mainly consisted of subservient chickens. Now the domain redirects to a site called Fred. No, that's really the site's URL...

6. - as part of WALL·E

Disney-Pixar's 2008 hit, WALL·E, predicts the end of the world coming from our overconsumption. The corporation largely to blame for the end of humanity is Buy N Large, a spoof of behemoth companies like Walmart that offer consumers everything they could possibly need at a fair price. And so, Disney produced the company's fake site, complete with futuristic products and funny press releases, business news, and financial reports.

Googl'd: The site now re-directs to the movie's official website, but remanants of it still exist when Googling. For example, here's some company news (check out the article boasting a mall in Wisconsin being granted city status -- an eerie predictor of things to come), and here's a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer that likely appeared after a potential customer registered his or her email address with the website.

7. & - as featured in 40 Days and 40 Nights

Released towards the end of the dot-com bubble burst was this bubbly rom-com starring Josh Hartnett. The crux of the movie revolves around Matt (Hartnett), who swears off any and all sexual activity in order to overcome his infatuation with his ex-girlfriend; somehow this was also wrapped around Lent. Matt works for a San Fran. startup, and his co-worker/roommate uses Matt's short-term celibacy to win money in an office pool, and to generate hits to the company website. Of course during these 40 days and nights, Matt meets a new girl who works for another startup, CyberNanny -- a site that serves to block profane sites from kids. Her job is perfectly summed up in her quote, "Some days I think that if I have to look at another blowjob I'll scream." 

Googl'd: At current, is a parked site and after visiting the URL, the jet-black page reveals the domain is for sale. As for, the URL redirects to a scam site, so stay away.

8. - as featured in Accepted

What does a slacker do when he's been rejected from every college from which he applied? In a very un-slacker-like fashion, he builds his own college. Starting with a fake acceptance letter, Bartleby "B" Gaines (Justin Long) then builds a fake website, and then a fake college, all in a grand scheme to fake out his parents.

Googl'd: The dot-com is parked, but certainly tech colleges commonly go by their acronyms... just use your better judgement avoid ever typing that into your browser.

9. - as featured in A Lot Like Love

This 2005 take on When Harry Met Sally..., was largely panned by critics, but the site that Ashton Kutcher's character is hoping to build is rather smart. An online diapar delivery service could help save the time of busy parents everywhere. I guess that's why they invented

Googl'd: The above domain is parked, but dropping one of the Rs, will take you to a video site where you can purchase the movie. This was probably a clever marketing ploy in 2005, but how many people are actually entering in this domain now?

10. - as part of Tropic Thunder

Another piece of viral marketing that still pays off. Tugg Speedman is Ben Stiller's character from Tropic Thunder, and a clever spoof of the action star who longs to broaden his career. Topic Thunder heavily employed a lot of viral marketing with websites for its fake characters, fake movies, and fake products. While all are hilarious, Tugg Speedman's website probably has the best character bio.

Googl'd: As you can see, these sites are still up and running, and we hope it stays that way.


1 comment:

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