Cola Wars | Sony pays seven figure sum for Coke Vs Pepsi pitch

Coca Cola and Pepsi
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The battle between Coca-Cola and Pepsi is heading to cinemas, as Sony pays seven figures for movie pitch on the subject.

As Hollywood’s tectonic plates continue to rearrange themselves in the wake of a disruptive few years, one type of film that seems to be rising to prominence is that of the product movie. In the last year or so we’ve seen Tetris, Air, Flamin’ Hot (the Cheetos origin story) and Barbie all land with varying degrees of impact upon our shared cultural consciousness.

Obviously, Barbie is something of a special case, distinguishable from the other films as it treats its product in an entirely distinct fashion and found great success doing so. The other films on that list told a more straightforward story about the origin of an iconic product and as we’ve already predicted, they won’t be the last to do so.

According to Deadline, Sony has paid north of a million dollars for a pitch (not a script mind you, a pitch) to bag the rights to The Cola Wars, a drama that will recount the fierce battle between industry titan Coca Cola and cool new upstart, Pepsi throughout the 1980s.

Here’s the overview: the film will explore ‘the true story of Pepsi’s attempt to challenge Coca-Cola’s century-long reign as the world’s top cola, sparking the unforgettable “Cola Wars” of the mid-1980s. This behind-the-scenes account, from Michael Jackson’s fiery mishap to the New Coke debacle, tells the ultimate underdog tale of history’s most iconic second-place contender vying for the No. 1 spot.’

Read more: Barbie review | Crikey, they pulled it off

Jason Shuman and Ben Queen will be drafting the script. Shuman is the writer and co-creator of Apple’s Acapulco whilst Queen penned Cars 2 and Cars 3 for Pixar. No director has been attached yet.

In fairness, this story does have some memorable moments to recount. Michael Jackson, then the world’s most famous person getting set ablaze whilst making a fizzy drinks ad was a huge deal at the time, while Coca Cola’s disastrous attempt to rebrand to ‘New Coke’ still lingers in the public consciousness decades on. Should the story move into the 1990s, there were some memorable moments there too such as Pepsi’s controversial Harrier Jump Jet ‘giveaway’ which was recounted in the Netflix documentary, Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?

Of the wave of product movies that we’ve seen so far, Barbie is the most successful with Tetris being a fun watch too, perhaps because neither film fell into the trap of blindly venerating its subject material. Likewise the under-seen Blackberry.

Hopefully, The Cola Wars will take a page from this playbook and give us a film that doesn’t feel like stealth advertising or brand synergy. Given that Antoine Fuqua is already making a Michael Jackson film, it also means we could see two different filmmakers offer up their cinematic interpretation of the one-time King of Pop getting set on fire.

We’ll bring you more on this one as we hear it.

Read more: Blackberry | One of 2023’s best, most overlooked films deserves your attention

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