Was Finding Dory Localized To Each City It Was Shown In?

So I saw Finding Dory last night, which was an interesting experience if you live in Cleveland.  Because a major plot point is that the fish are going to be hauled away to an aquarium in Cleveland, and many zany rescue attempts are made.

I kept wondering whether that was actually Cleveland.

I mean, a truck had “Cleveland” prominently written on it, and that truck showed up several times.  Characters mentioned Cleveland, but I kept watching closely to see whether their mouths were moving when they said it, or whether their mouths were obscured.

Because, being in Cleveland, seeing a major reference to Cleveland, I wondered whether Pixar had localized the movie.  Could it be that the fish were only going to Cleveland because I lived in Cleveland, and if you lived in Boston the fish would be going to Boston, and if you lived in Thailand the fish were going to Thailand?

It’s been done before.  Captain America had a list of things he needed to catch up on after his return to modern society, and that was localized – every country showed a different list, tailored to historical and musical events that happened in their country.  That was one shot with one notepad, but…

They’re already changing ads shown in live baseball games.  It’s called Virtual Advertising, and that Taco Bell advertisement behind the batter might be a Mutual Insurance ad for someone in another city.  We’re already tailoring ads.

Why not tailor movies? Why not give the kids a thrill by thinking that Dory might be coming to your city?

If anyone could do it, Pixar could.  It would take some doing – a lot of recording and timing issues, and you wouldn’t want to re-render every frame entirely.  But with some tweaking, I’m sure you could reserve a box area on the side of the truck and swap out city names with only a bit of overhead.  Make sure the characters never faced the camera when they spoke {$CITY_NAME}, so you don’t have to animate their mouths.  Then make a list of major cities with aquariums, have Ellen Degeneres speak all their names, and map out a distribution network.

As it turned out, Cleveland was hard-coded into Finding Dory.  (I was a little relieved.)  But I got a glimpse into the future, because I’m sure someone in Hollywood is thinking about this, and maybe it didn’t happen this time, but as the costs of digital distribution and animation fall, it will.

Some day, animation costs may fall to the point where you see a global destruction movie, with asteroids falling across the world, and you’ll see your home town destroyed by a meteor.  And it will be your home town annihilated no matter where you see it, because it’ll be trivial to take a helicopter shot and overlay it with personalized mayhem.

Not today.

Probably not tomorrow.

But it’s coming.

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