As Movies go, "Cooper and the Castle Hills Gang" is really standard kid's fare - a gang of kids on a mission, general moral lessons, and the standard hi-jinks. It's a well produced film, however, and the appealing cast and entertaining plot line that should keep kids engaged. It's set in the real-world upscale Texas community of Castle Hills, nicely presented as an ideal planned community. That's no accident.
"Cooper and the Castle Hills Gang" turns the idea of product placement upside down - for it is, in itself, a product created to promote the Castle Hills community. I discovered the film on Apple's trailer site - and found that it was available to view in full on at castlehills.com. Was it some sore of a pay-per-view scheme, I wondered? A site from which to order the video? As it turned out, castlehills.com is the community's sales site - on which poster art for the sixty-minute film serves as a link to a page of links to playable 8-10 minute sections of the film, and a behind-the-scenes short. They play smoothly- even on my iPad..
Though Coooper, the the boy who film's central character, does talk about his community as being the best anywhere, and shares with us the general features that, in a kid's eyes anyway, make it a great place to live, most of the film is plot driven (and never, by the way, leaves the confines of Castle Hill). Like most kids in similar communities, he "owns" his community.
Yes, it's clearly a blatant advertisement for the community - but it never pretends to be otherwise. After all, as of this writing, it's only available to view by visiting the community's website. I find that infinitely more appealing than spending $10 or more for a movie in a theater and being bombarded with contant, endless product placement.
While this sort of arrangement might not work for other types of cinematic fare, I think the producers may be on to something here.
...and I'd love to know how they managed to have their trailer listed on the Apple site, alongside the theatrical releases...