Consider it Hollywood's healthy alternative to the Happy Meal promotion.
To launch its "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2," Sony Pictures Animation is joining forces with several fresh produce companies and plans to donate more than 200,000 pounds of food to the nation's hungriest families.
In partnership with Feeding America and as part of September's Hunger Action Month, Sony will work with its "Chance of Meatballs" partners -- including California Giant Berry Farms, Cal-Organic Farms, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Grimmway Farms, the National Watermelon Promotion Board and Sprouts Farmers Markets -- to donate tons of produce at food banks across the nation.
"With more than 50 million Americans -- including nearly 17 million children -- at risk of hunger, the fight for hunger-relief continues. This promotion is a great platform for us to spread the word about Hunger Action Month and put more healthy produce on tables across the nation," Leah Ray, the vice president for corporate partnerships at Feeding America, said in a statement.
On its Cloudy2win.com website, Sony is publishing information about hunger and nutrition, including recipes for dishes such as carrot hummus, almond berry protein bars, watermelon kebabs and herbed romaine salad with strawberries. There is also a "food bank locator" so that movie fans can make their own donations to organizations feeding the hungry.
"We really wanted to find a way to make a difference and use food to do that. 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2' is a fun adventure film, but ultimately, it's about an inventor trying to make the world a better place through food," said George Leon, Sony's executive vice president for global consumer marketing.
Hollywood has been widely criticized for tying many of its promotional campaigns to calorie- and fat-laden meals from fast-food restaurants, particularly with movies aimed at young children. Earlier this summer, Sony promoted its "Smurfs" sequel with McDonald's.
Sony wasn't ready to say it was abandoning such tie-ins but did acknowledge that "Chance of Meatballs" offered an unusual opportunity to do something much healthier than normal.
"Partnering with Feeding America allowed us to do something truly meaningful for communities in need while also promoting our upcoming family film," said Marc Weinstock, the studio's president of theatrical marketing. "Arranging for a donation of 200,000 pounds of fresh produce is a healthy win-win and a great, nutritional way to create awareness for 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.'"
The first "Chance of Meatballs" film, released in 2009 and adapted from the illustrated children's book by Judi and Ron Barrett, was a modest theatrical success, grossing $243 million worldwide. The sequel is due Sept. 27, with the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan and Will Forte.