PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- We're still weeks away from the official start of summer and summer movies are already raking in the GDP of small island nations.
Paying for all those stunts, explosions, marquee-worthy stars and CGI requires some financing just as impressive as anything that appears on screen. In recent years, that's meant turning summer blockbusters into the equivalent of NASCAR vehicles and slapping as many sponsor names on the finished product as possible.
Remember when Burger King (BKW) could crank out a few Star Wars glasses and call that a sponsorship? Now a movie's big fast-food partner joins its auto sponsor, credit-card sponsor, wireless sponsor and retail sponsor just to give a film a chance of being the biggest feature of any given weekend. Does your movie center around something extremely specific, such as animated cars or a race scene of any kind? Better change that to an auto sponsor, an oil sponsor, a gasoline sponsor, etc.
The are some studios and production companies that have this down to a science. Marvel, Paramount (VIA - Get Report) and, later, Disney (DIS - Get Report), used last year's The Avengers as a cookie to wave in front of sponsors they wanted to lock in for a package of prequels including Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and the Iron Man series. As a result, they locked companies such as Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group (DPS) and 7-Eleven into multi-picture deals and kept the cash rolling in. Not to be outdone, Time Warner (TWX - Get Report) took a similar approach to not only its Batman series, but its Green Lantern and Superman films as well.With the costs of such films now exceeding $200 million and their box office take multiplying that several times over ( The Avengers pulled in more than $600 million in the U.S. alone), those lists of gracious corporate donors won't be shrinking anytime soon. If anything, they and the logos that accompany them may elbow their way into the credits. Just to show you where all of this is headed, we've come up with five examples of films blatantly brought to you by a host of well-heeled sponsors. Let's see who sold out the most: