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The unethical, profit-hungry megacorporation is a pretty standard movie villain; they sacrifice morality for money, giving the hero something to fight against while also demonstrating the evils of capitalism in perhaps the most ham-handed way possible.

But when you think about it, despite all their supposed greed, they're pretty terrible at making money.

Weyland-Yutani (Alien series)

The Business Plan:

1. Capture the universe's most dangerous, uncontrollable creature.
2. ???
3. Profit.

What They Did Wrong:

Let's face it, alien xenomorphs are a terrible investment. They don't follow orders, you can't trap or control them and the only way they can breed is by killing every human in the vicinity. Nevertheless, where every sane person sees an unstoppable plague of violent death from beyond the moons, the megacorporation from the Alien series sees only profit.


How? Well, that's never quite clear.

As the story progresses over four films, it becomes embarrassingly apparent that Weyland-Yutani, supposedly some kind of space-exploration company, uses all of its mainstream operations as a front for their secret master plan to collect and domesticate aliens--a project that carries a 100 percent failure rate over the two hundred years they've been trying.

"Well gentlemen, the first two centuries didn't pan out but we have big plans for the third."

And although they never see any return on their investment, their methods only become more elaborate and costly. In Aliens, for instance, they waste mind-boggling amounts of money terraforming some shithole moon just because they caught wind that there might be aliens nearby.

You can just imagine the board of directors calculating their profit margin year after year, frowning at the annual 10-billion-dollar hemorrhage that occurs every time they lose a thousand employees and a secure facility to an alien massacre they provoked. And that's before the litigation begins.

Building better worlds by slowly killing off the human race.

Weyland-Yutani is clearly making money doing something, or else they couldn't afford to build all of those ships and complexes the aliens always wind up chasing people around in. Just stick with whatever that is. It's like finding out BP is secretly trying to weaponize sharks at the expense of one exploding oil rig per quarter.

Besides, what's the plan, to sell the aliens to the military as weapons? That's never going to pay off because as scary as they look, they don't make very good soldiers. Really, they're only good at killing unarmed people running scared through dimly lit corridors.

But should humanity ever go to war with milk-filled, effeminate androids,
the profits are going to come rolling in.

Tyrell Corporation (Blade Runner)

The Business Plan:

Sell android "replicants" for slave labor; when they burn out in four years, sell new ones.

What They Did Wrong:

While it may be ethically irresponsible, creating replicants with a four-year lifespan was a stroke of business genius. It's a textbook example of installing built-in obsolescence in a product so you're forced to keep buying. It's the foundation upon which a high-tech economy is built.

Unfortunately for the Tyrell Corporation, that's probably the only good idea they ever had. What's really baffling is why a company that designs robot workers for menial labor would waste millions of dollars making those robots so lifelike that nobody can tell them apart from regular human beings without an insanely sophisticated psychological exam.

These things are built to be soldiers, miners and sex slaves, so giving them anything beyond two arms and a set of genitals is like giving your washer and dryer a set of legs so you have to chase them around the house every time you want to do a load of laundry.

A bottle of Coke does taste better when you have to wrest it away from a resistant, sentient robot.

Indeed, the biggest problem in the Blade Runner universe is that the damn replicants keep escaping, forcing the LAPD to set aside an entire division dedicated to rounding them up all the time. Nobody is going to want a piece of equipment that not only is designed to fall apart after four years, but is also prone to escape the first chance it gets.

Here's an idea - make the replicants look like this:

Why even restrict yourself to the human form when you can design robots for the purpose they are intended? It makes sense for a soldierbot to have machine-gun arms, and people desperate enough to use a sexbot don't really care what it looks like as long as it doesn't insult their masculinity.

"Sh- she can't point and laugh, right?"

And, for the love of god, don't bother programming them to feel pain, oppression and resentment, otherwise your customers have no incentive to purchase your product instead of just rounding up illegal immigrants.

While we're on the subject of robots...

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Omni Consumer Products (RoboCop series)

The Business Plan:

Transform dystopian Detroit into the utopian Delta City. The problem is that crime has run amok, so they contract with the city to run the police department and wipe out crime once and for all. With robots.

Peter Wellerobots, to be specific.

What They Did Wrong:

We completely understand that much of RoboCop is satire, mocking corporate greed an America's war on crime.

The rest was explosions.

But what is baffling is how the greedy, money-hungry corporation was so bad at making money.

Seriously, their grand plan was to buy Detroit. Then they were surprised to find there were complications? How long did they expect it to take to convert Detroit from an impoverished, crime-ridden hellhole into this futuristic engine of economic growth? Fifty years? A hundred? The stockholders were OK with that plan?

"Don't you see? We'll simply kill Red Forman. It's foolproof!"

But then, where normal companies solve all their problems using expensive, high-powered lawyers, with Omni you replace the word "lawyers" with "robots." Seriously, they build robots for reasons where building robots doesn't even make sense. Putting aside the obvious issue with their beta testing (which involves live ammunition in the executive boardroom)...

"Shouldn't we at least take the bullets out of it before the demonstration?"
"Screw that, sounds like work."

...let's look at the basic plan of throwing billions into a project to replace the police force with ridiculously huge and overpowered stop-motion robots.

Most cops--even ones in Detroit--will go their whole career without shooting anybody. It's a job that involves dealing with people: investigation, getting stories out of witnesses, getting cooperation from informants and gathering evidence to prosecute bad guys. Omni's first solution for this is a walking tank with four automatic cannons and two rocket launchers. All of that shit is too big to even fit in a car or drive to a crime scene.

We get it, Omni is evil. But ED 209 is not even an effective evil cop--its communication consists of three or four pre-recorded voice clips--it can't extort money from people or make veiled threats or do anything a greedy corporation needs it to do.

And really, even the RoboCop program is a failure. They wound up with one model that works, though all his time is spent trying to defeat all the giant malfunctioning death machines and ninjabots the company keeps releasing into the community without adequate testing.

Really, no amount of testing would ever make this abomination
"adequate" for anything other than being horrifying.

All other attempts are expensive failures. Rather than cancel the program (you'd think the lawsuits would be piling up nicely by that point), they decide to build a robot with a brain from a dead drug-addicted sociopath. Hey, here's an idea: Take the billions you spent on that and hire enough human police to position them every 10 feet throughout the city.

After all, this is a publicly traded company (they mention selling stock more than once). You'd think their wasteful cyborg division would be getting skewered by Jim Cramer on a daily basis.

Lacuna, Inc. (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

The Business Plan:

Wipe the minds of people who have memories they would rather forget; make them pay through the nose for this unique, possibly illegal experience.

What They Did Wrong:

Because irritating commercials and Google ads can only go so far, companies rely largely upon repeat business and word of mouth to stay afloat. This is why it's a bad idea to alienate your customers; if you're selling a quality product, then the satisfied consumer will tell his or her friends so that you can hock your shit to them too. That's the way capitalism is supposed to work.

Well, that and organized crime.

So your company is in trouble straight off the bat if the service you're offering is to erase the customer's memory of the service you're offering. That's probably helpful if what you're selling is tickets to The Last Airbender, but counterproductive in most other respects.

Seriously, fuck this movie.

How are you supposed to drum up good press, or even make the world aware of your company's existence, if literally nobody who uses your service remains aware of it?

In fact, if there's any word of mouth effect surrounding Lacuna, Inc., it's more likely to be negative, just by the nature of what they're doing to people. For any company, a good rule of thumb is that your product, good or service should never leave your customer more fucked up afterward than they were before.

Yet the McRib comes back year after year after year.

Consider this: You can't know how much better your life is after a memory wipe, but you sure as hell know that there's a significant amount of your life missing now.

So when Jim Carrey, say, tries to remember that fun beach trip all his friends tell him he had (where he met the girl of his dreams who later broke his heart), he'll totally blank out. In fact, every significant moment for the past several months will also be a complete blank. These people will have the memory span of a hardcore meth addict, without any idea why.

"Twenty unread messages from GayDominatrix69?"

At least make the mindwipees record a quick video message that details how horrible their life was before, and how not to repeat their own mistakes. Sure, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet's hair would have never gotten back together if that happened, but that's exactly what they wanted when they went to Lacuna. If you were required to dissuade your patients for doing something they would later regret, the plastic surgery industry wouldn't exist.

And what a shame that would be.

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Replacement Technologies (The 6th Day)

The Business Plan:

Clone people for profit/Murder Schwarzenegger.

What They Did Wrong:

The Arnie-driven sci-fi flick The 6th Day, aka That Movie Where They Clone Arnold Schwarzenegger, involves Arnold discovering that a huge corporation has been cloning human beings (in the film, cloning humans is illegal). So, much of the plot involves the corporation trying to kill Arnold before he can blow the lid off their secret, by sending lots and lots of clones after him.

Hundreds of fictional companies have gone under after trying to kill Arnold Schwarzenegger.

There are several problems here. First is the fact that the central service they seem to provide--cloning humans--is against the law and has to be kept off the books. Though they have a legit cover operation called "RePet" that deals with cloning cats and dogs, it's cleverly revealed near the beginning of the film that RePet operates at a loss. It's not that unusual for companies such as Sony to sell products below their manufacturing cost as a marketing tactic, but it's usually a good idea to provide some kind of legal explanation for why you seem to be getting richer and richer while you're throwing money out the window like it's on fire.

Moving on.

Even if we can believe that the IRS in Schwarzenegger's dystopia just have their fingers in their ears all the time, the business behavior of Replacement Technologies makes it difficult to understand how they keep a hold on their ill-gotten clone-blood-money. Even after the villain-CEO reveals, exasperated, that each clone costs $1.2 Million to produce, they just keep cranking them out, without selling them.

Like sequels to the Land Before Time franchise.

Even though they can plainly see that the main character is Arnold Schwarzenegger, they just keep throwing the same four brainless, fragile thugs at him, which incidentally is like throwing dry twigs at a fire in the hope of stabbing it out. When he snaps their necks like Kit-Kats, they just get cloned again... at $1.2 million a pop.

When you're trying to start up a precarious and socially unpopular clone-breeding enterprise, you simply can't afford to burn through capital like this. And how much money do you suppose it costs to hire an experienced, heavily-armed replacement mercenary? We're guessing less than $1.2 Million.

Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil series)

The Business Plan:

The what now?

What They Did Wrong:

Like any corporation involved in dangerous research, it all boils down to risk versus reward for the Umbrella Corporation. In this case, the risk is zombies, and the reward is zombies.


It really is hard to locate any kernel of sense underneath the strategy of Resident Evil's pharmaceutical giant. We admittedly didn't pay much attention during our business management elective in college, but we're pretty sure one of the first maxims they taught was that a successful company should refrain from murdering its entire consumer base. Or, if you're a cigarette company, you at least wait 40 years.

"Generally, you don't want your product to kill your customers.
However, there are caveats and exceptions if you plan on reanimating your then-dead customers."

The boneheads at Umbrella, apparently never having seen a Romero movie, saw fit to channel their research into making zombies and/or monsters, neither of whom incidentally showed any interest in any of Umbrella's nifty line of pharmaceutical products. And not only did they never see a red cent in profit from their zombie division, by all appearances they had absolutely no idea how doing this whole "dead rising" thing would lead to any money whatsoever. Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt in assuming they never expected the virus to escape, this only leaves us the question of why they developed it in the first place?

"Why did we do this again?"

As with Weyland-Yutani, there seems to be some vague hope of military applications, but zombies seem to make even worse soldiers than aliens. For about two straight decades, and across multiple movies and countless games, the company has averaged about one facility a year getting overrun by their experimental killing machines.

Nevertheless, it's in damage control that Umbrella really shines. Although it's revealed in the film that they've developed an antidote to the zombie plague, a very marketable commodity to control during an undead apocalypse, Umbrella drops the ball on its last opportunity for profit by detonating some rather less marketable nuclear bombs. The fallout does nothing to stop the zombie hoards, but it does eliminate the remainder of Umbrella's potential customers.

"Umbrella stockholders can expect a dip in prices, due primarily to everyone exploding."

Honestly, you guys make British Petroleum look like geniuses.

You can read more Rohan at Screencrave.com and Beatcrave.com..

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