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Brands aren’t ‘Proud’ of film’s numbers

Wal-Mart, others watch investment struggle

It was meant to be a feel-good film about America. But “Proud American” has become the latest example of a project that’s making brands feel bad about filmmaking.

The indie, distribbed by Slowhand Cinema, was produced together with Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, MasterCard and American Airlines. But the pic earned a mere $96,000 opening weekend on 750 screens and was panned by critics.

Critics haven’t loved “The Women” either, whose budget was padded with about $3 million from Dove (with the company’s products appearing in the pic, of course).

While Madison Avenue has successfully made brands stand out with product placement on TV and in movies — “Transformers” promotes GM’s cars while NBC’s “Knight Rider” is almost an ad for Ford — companies haven’t found success in producing their own pics.

Sears couldn’t sell teens on its made-for-MTV movie “American Mall.” Mountain Dew stumbled with the snowboarding doc “First Descent.” And Gatorade failed to score with soccer drama “Gracie.” Those titles, however, have done fairly well on DVD.

The brands have said they were less interested in B.O. than reaching specific audiences. But it helps if the demos they’re trying to reach actually watch the movies.

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