A conversation between Terrence Malick and the marketing team at Taco Bell.
Executive #1: Mr. Malick, great to meet you.
Executive #2: Indeed, thanks so much for coming in.
Terrence Malick: Hi.
Executive #1: Well, let’s get down to it. Now, you know why we’re all here today, right?
Terrence Malick: My agent said something about you wanting to do a To the Wonder Happy Meal?
The agents shift ncomfortably in their seats.
Executive #2: Terry, we don’t like to use that term here. Is it okay if we call you "Terry?"
Terrence Malick: Sure.
Executive #2: Great, Terry, great. And yes, basically you’re right. We are interested in a juvenile marketing package centered on the film imagery of To the Wonder.
Executive #1: We think the movie tie-in potential with Ben Affleck holds a lot of promise. He’s getting older, but young people still love him.
Executive #2: Older single women love him too. We are going to move a boatload of Gorditas if you know what I mean.
Terrence Malick: Gorditas?
Executive #3 walks in, hurried.
Executive #3: I’m sorry I’m late. I lost track of time going over the comps for the new Michael Bay Cantina Menu Cinnamon Twists Campaign. This is going to be a big summer.
Executive #1: You’re right on time, we were just about to show Terry some of the mock-ups.
Executive #3: Irubbing hands together) Perfect. Good to meet you Terry. I loved Batman, by the way.
Executive #1: He means Badlands.
Executive #3: What did I say?
Executive #2: Doesn’t matter, let’s have a look at those comps!
Executive #2 gets up and reveals a brightly-colored Styrofoam model of Mont Saint-Michel, and sets it before Terrence Malick.
Executive #2: Now, before you say anything Terry, have a look at this. If you give the steeple on the top of the church a little bit of a nudge…
A soft taco fires up out of the top of the model. Terrence Malick catches it in mid-air.
Executive #1: BOOM goes the dynamite!
Executive #3: Nice catch, Terry!
Executive #2: Now here’s the clincher. Inside the Styrofoam cathedral, there’s all the usual stuff; the napkin/spork convenience packet, the crunchy taco, the toy model of Ben Affleck’s Chevy Suburban from the film, and…
Executive #1: We’re working on a tiny microchip that says, “Yo quiero Taco Bell.“
Executive #3: In French!
Executive #2: And Spanish!
Executive #1: And Italian!
The three executives slap high fives.
Executive #3: We’re still working out the translation. We’ve got some licensing going with Google Translator.
Executive #2: So, what do you think!?
Executive #1: Don’t answer yet. Show him the other ones.
Executive #2: Right, right.
Executive #3 digs into an attaché case and pulls out a single sheet of white paper.
Executive #3: Now, this is a bit abstract, but you’re no stranger to that, of course.
The executives laugh.
Executive #3: Okay, this looks like an ordinary sheet of plain paper, right? Wrong.
Executive #2 throws a Taco Bell Hot Sauce packet over to Executive #3, who catches it expertly and tears it open.
Executive #1: Wait for it…
Executive #3 squirts a perfectly straight line of hot sauce across the paper until the packet is spent. He holds the paper up for Terrence Malick to see.
Executive #3: The thin red line.
Executive #2: BOOM!
The three executives slap high fives once again.
Executive #1: Now, we’re still working out the kinks, but on the other side of the paper we’re going to fasten a flamin’-hot Chalupa, a sealed bag of Volcano Nachos, and a paint-by-numbers grid of a lover contemplating adultery.
Executive #3: But, instead of using paint or crayons, the numbers in the color-by-numbers grid will correspond to different hot sauce flavors kids can use to squirt on and paint the scene.
Executive #1: Okay, but don’t pick your favorite yet, here’s one more.
Executive #2 opens a case and places a mirror down on the conference table.
Executive #2: This one is still in the development phase.
Executive #1: That’s right. It’s very fragile.
Executive #2: The idea is this. We think we can sell the mirror for $2.99, and if we can get the technology right, a holographic image will form in the mirror, of you eating a Chalupa.
Executive #3: Not you, Terry, but the customer.
Executive #2: Right, sorry. It’s not a hologram of Terrence Malick eating a Chalupa in the mirror, but the customer viewing him/herself eating the Chalupa.
Executive #1: It’s been said Terry, that your films hold a mirror up to society, and show us the truly delicate image of mankind, illuminating the fragile beauty in the search for God, love, family, grace, and truth.
Executive #2: It’s just that we would like the truly delicate image of mankind to be one in which mankind is eating a Chalupa.
Executive #1: So, what do you think?