Tamara: Yeah, sure. I think a lot of people like that one.
NC: And do you remember the characters Mr. Rooster and Miss Kitty?
Malcolm: I think so.
Tamara: Yeah, we voiced them, right?
NC:(chuckling) Well, because nobody demanded it, I decided to give them a spinoff named "Miss Rooster and Mr. Kitty".
Malcolm: You know a rooster can't be female, right?
NC: I don't see gender, only money. Thus, I'm gonna have them star in all the sketches moving forward
Tamara: Wait. You're replacing us portraying characters...
Malcolm: ...with characters that we've already portrayed?
NC: Oh, yes. Virtual actors are the future, so you're no longer needed. Farewell.
(Still smiling, NC presses something offscreen...and a wall of spikes appears above Malcolm and Tamara, closing in on them! Both aren't frightened, however)
Tamara: Don't you need us to do their voices, though?
(NC hesitates a bit. The wall of spikes goes up)
NC: I guess you have a point. Or wouldn't if you didn't mention that. But we are gonna have to negotiate.
Malcolm: No need. You can't bet everything on virtual actors that nobody's even seen yet.
NC: Oh, I think you misunderstood, Malcolm. I'm not negotiating with you. I'm negotiating with your characters. Mr. Kitty, Miss Rooster, please come in.
(The Flash-animated characters, a yellow cat and a brown female rooster, come inside the room, looking displeased)
NC: You see, I had them animated earlier. They're the most perfect virtual characters you can imagine. They will be in all of future sketches, play all of future characters, look exactly how I want them to look! Real actors will be a thing of the past! (laughs maniacally for some seconds, then hands the binder over to Malcolm) If you could just read the lines I wrote for their negotiations, that'd be swell.
Malcolm:(half-smiling with Tamara) Well, gee, we'd love to...
Tamara: But our reach just doubled.
NC: Doh! Everybody associates your voices with them, though!
Malcolm: Well, if you want the illusion to be ruined...
NC:(throws hands in annoyance) No, no, let me just write then to the budget here. These sickos... (mutters a bit while writing something in another binder) Okay, fine. Say the lines.
Malcolm:(reading from the script) Gee, Mr. Critic. Since we're not real, you can negotiate whatever you want.
(As Malcolm speaks, NC notices that Mr. Kitty and Miss Rooster are standing still and doing nothing)
Tamara: Wait, why isn't his mouth moving?
NC:(sighs) I must have just paid for enough animation to have them walk in. (goes back to writing in the binder) Now to budget in more for lip movements. Ha-ha! This is so much better than actual actors!
Malcolm: Oh, oh, what kind of personality does Mr. Kitty have, by the way?
NC: Oh, none.
NC: Well, I want them to be blank slates so people can imagine them in other roles!
Tamara: But isn't leaving an impact what would make people want to see them in other roles?
NC: Oh, why are you making this so complicated? Just get to the part where everything works!
Tamara: Okay, fi...what movie did you see?
NC:(shifts eyes) What?
Malcolm: Any time you act weird or weirder, it's because of a movie that tried the same thing.
NC: Nonsense. (raises voice) Just as Aki Ross will soon be the most famous actress in the entire world...
Tamara and Malcolm:(deadpan)Final Fantasy.
NC: SO WHAT IF IT WAS?! (crosses hands glumly)
(The title of the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is shown, followed by clips)
NC (vo):Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was something of a bizarre experiment. Based loosely on the popular video game franchise, this was one of the first fully computer-generated movies to attempt to look photorealistic. Though media and entertainment has come a lot further in this technology, it still stands as a pretty damn impressive effort. And an expensive one. With a budget of over a 137 million dollars, it only made 85 million of its money back. Why was so much put into a video game movie, (The posters for Super Mario Bros. Movieand Street Fighterare shown) which infamously don't get much of a return? Because, no joke, this was going to be the start of casting virtual actors. Their main character, Aki Ross, was being pushed as the first virtual character to be in other movies.
(The posters and shots of the movies mentioned are shown with Aki's face Photoshopped onto some of the characters)
NC (vo): So you could have The Incredibles starring Aki Ross, Polar Express starring Aki Ross, maybe even cross into live-action movies, like Bad Santa with Aki Ross, or Cat in the Hat with Aki Ross. (After a beat, "???" appears on screen) I don't know. It's a weird idea! On the one hand, the lines of artistic identity are being blurred all the time, with animated musical groups like (promo posters of...) Gorillaz and Miku being such big hits. But something about this just seems...silly. I mean, what? (More pictures followed by Photoshopped ones are shown, including one from 2017's Justice League) Is Gollum gonna play a Ninja Turtle? Is Shrek gonna play Superman's upper lip? Is GeneralTarkin gonna play Jar Jar? Is Thanos gonna play Sonic the Hedgehog?! (At this point, the poster for the already infamous then-upcoming 2019 Sonic the Hedgehog movie is shown with Thanos' face on the main character's, followed by a caption that reads...) Please? I guess in children's media, we've kind of done this before, (The posters for Mickey and the Beanstalk,The Muppet Christmas Carol and the shot of Bugs Bunny wearing a Superman suit are shown) putting Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and the Muppets in different roles, but that's usually more for laughs. And even then, they usually don't stray far away from their well-known personalities. They don't act much different, outside of the characteristics we already know them for...which is exactly what acting is supposed to be, for the most part. (As he says this, images of Jack Nicholson and Jeff Goldblum are shown) I mean, if Aki Ross played Sadness in Inside Out, does that mean we couldn't change the way she look to match the character because it's already a designed virtual actress? Or would we morph her to look like the character, defeating the purpose of the virtual actress? The whole thing's a little odd. But people the time were convinced this was going to be the next big thing.
(The clip of the ABC TV spot of the movie is shown)
Announcer: She's one of a hundred women who may change the cultural landscape. Perhaps the movie star of the summer.
NC:(drums fingers evilly) Indeed. The perfect plan. Isn't it, Miss Rooster?!
(Miss Rooster and Mr. Kitty are shown to be...blurred)
NC: DAMMIT! Something went wrong with the render! Now I have to pay the animators overtime! (writes in his binder again)
Malcolm:(holding a phone) Oh, hey, I'm on the phone with Phil LaMarr. He says the virtual character he's playing may want to voice Mr. Kitty.
NC:(feeling excited) Ooh, having Phil LaMarr attached could be a big drop.
Malcolm: It's probably gonna cost more than me, though.
NC:(sighs in annoyance) Okay, fine. It's worth having a celebrity like that playing the part of a character playing the part of a character playing the part of a character. (proudly closes the binder) Ha-ha! This makes so much more sense!
NC (vo): But, because Final Fantasy bombed so hard, the idea was dropped faster than a sequel to (poster of...)Simone. Wink to the three of you who remember that movie; I acknowledge its existence. So, why did Final Fantasy fail to find a real audience with its virtual characters? Well, let's take a look.
NC: This is final, and, unlike the games, I do actually mean, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
Tamara: Uh, do you still need us?
NC: No. Get out of here.
Malcolm:(points at the blurred characters) But with our virtual characters still here, we might need to voice those.
NC:(sighs and takes out the binder) I don't have a budget right now to animate them leaving!
Tamara: Now, we're very method and we go wherever our characters go.
NC:(puts the binder down) Look. An off-camera alien took them away.
Tamara: What's the alien's name?
Malcolm: You might be able to star in future sketches.
(Tamara and Malcolm get off the floor, smiling, and leave)
NC: These virtual deals getting worse all the time.
(The Columbia Pictures logo is shown with the electronic laser sound effect)
NC (vo): I guess the Columbia torch is now a lightsaber.