Now They’re Turning Commercials Into Movies: Pepsi’s Uncle Drew Heads to the Big Screen

Hopefully this is more successful than the Geico cavemen sitcom.
By  · Published on June 23rd, 2017

Hopefully this is more successful than the Geico cavemen sitcom.

It’s safe to say everybody has a favorite commercial, right? Most of us turn up the volume every time it’s on or at least learn the jingle. But would you like your favorite ad to be turned into a feature-length film?

One commercial is doing just that. The idea is totally original and a bit odd, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be successful. NBA fan-favorite Uncle Drew is coming to the big screen, Variety reports, and in case you didn’t know: he gets buckets.

If you’ve missed the ads, a done-up Kyrie Irving has been the face of Pepsi Max lately with his portrayal of septuagenarian basketball phenomenon Uncle Drew. Commercials feature Irving challenging unsuspecting street players and teens to a game of basketball in parks all over America. Understandably, onlookers and fellow players are apprehensive and a bit amused by the sight of an older man playing against the rest, but by the end of the game everyone is staring agape at Uncle Drew’s impressive plays.

The feel-good energy that radiates through these commercials apparently caught the eye of Temple Hill Entertainment’s John Fischer, who in turn showed the skits to fellow producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen. Although Fischer and Bowen were both favorable of the film idea, it was writer Jay Longino, who developed the pitch that overall propelled the team into pursuing rights for the film.

Described as a “love letter to basketball,” the Uncle Drew feature will incorporate much of the dialogue highlighted in the Pepsi Max commercials where the character reminisces about the old days of the sport.

The film is also being likened to Blues Brothers  but in the realm of basketball and will tell the story of Drew and his old squad playing on the legendary Rucker Park courts in Harlem. Years later, Drew is talked into returning to the location to compete in a tournament, leading him to embark on a road trip to round his old team. The clearly geriatric band of buddies will also be joined by Get Out’s Lil Rel Howery as a young basketball fan in need of Uncle Drew’s assistance.

“Basketball is a physical game; you’re gonna take hits. Question is, how do you bounce back?” Uncle Drew poses at the start of commercial four. He often encourages his fellow senior citizen pals to join him on the court amidst their obvious fears of lacking ability.

Longino says he took that sort of encouragement from the ads and began to build a story he hopes will “inspire them to not let things like their age, or their size, or their past failures limit what they’re capable of accomplishing.”

With the script written, all that was needed was the ok from Pepsi, which they more than received when PepsiCo’s Creators League Studio offered to fully fund development of the project. Meanwhile, Lionsgate has acquired distribution rights to the release, which will be directed by Charles Stone (Drumline).

The only thing left to build is the cast. It’s already been revealed that Shaquille O’Neal is in negotiations to appear. The retired player, who has made appearances in Steel, Grown Ups 2, and Kazaam, will likely add the Uncle Drew flick to his resume, as one of a number of celebrities expected to show up.

As for Irving, the only other untouchable player on the Cleveland Cavaliers besides Lebron James, he’s been able to add a little to the script in his time apart from championships.

“We’ve sat down together twice in the last few months. He knows the character inside and out, and just being around him when he has all the makeup on has been really informative for me,” Longino says. “And he’ll definitely be chiming in on what he thinks is working in the script and what isn’t.”

Knowing that the production team behind this impending sports movie is so passionate about the subject gives much relief. Uncle Drew has been elevated to a level of fandom that no other commercial character has been able to achieve. Only time will tell if this will serve as a negative or positive.

In the meantime, sit tight, young bloods, and catch a glimpse of what to expect coming soon: