#3. 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.
#2. 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.
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.
#1. 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.
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For more Cracked takes on the silver screen, check out 11 Movies Saved by Historical Inaccuracy and 5 Movie Romances That Won't Last (According to Science).
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 07.30.2010) to discover Cracked's business plan to utilize the hobo population.