What ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Was Like According to a 1968 Howard Johnson’s Children’s Menu

By  · Published on May 14th, 2013

Did you know that Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was an expensive career brochure for space stewardesses that featured stunning visuals and a delightful, not-at-all-horrifying surprise ending that children love? It’s true! Just ask this amazing movie tie-in comic that Howard Johnson’s included in their children’s menu back in 1968 when the film premiered.

The hospitality company also had some product placement in the movie itself, sponsoring a sparse, yet relaxing Earthlight Room (while somehow failing to secure the hotel sponsorship that went to Hilton).

Once you stop throwing up, this kind of thing really makes you wonder if Kubrick ever saw this glorious monstrosity or whether he was carefully guarded from the more commercial grotesqueries that came with studio filmmaking. Obviously he swallowed the product placement while presenting it in a believable way (after all, brands aren’t simply going to disappear in the future), but this connect-the-dots delivery method may have been a bridge too far. The obvious question is why they’d market a slow-burn, existential mind-shredder to children in the first place. The better question is why they’d market a slow-burn, existential mind-shredder to children without turning HAL into a cheerful, cartoon robot pal.

At any rate, this is the kind of cool stuff you get while following directors on Twitter. Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich shared this from the truly excellent Dreams of Space blog.

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.