I'm fine with the government providing financial assistance to the movie industry (via subsidies and such), but when it is directly involved with the marketing of a film, I think that's a bit too much. The U.S. Mint has gotten together with * the Franklin Mint and 20th Century Fox to create a limited edition version of the U.S. quarter that features an image of the Silver Surfer on the tails side. These coins, which have already been released into circulation, also include the address for the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surferwebsite. There are only a total of 40,000 out there, so if you manage to find one, you might not want to go and use it in a vending machine; you should probably hold on to it. Besides the fact that it's a collectible (people are already selling them on eBay), there's also a contest open only to people who find one of the coins -- with the prize being a trip to the London premiere of FF:ROTSS.

Recently another government agency, the U.S. Postal Service, participated in movie marketing by placing 400 R2D2 mailboxes on sidewalks throughout the country. Of course, this was to celebrate the anniversary of a movie (also released by Fox) that has become something of a national treasure. The Silver Surfer coins are less forgivable because they advertise a new release that may not even be a big success. For that reason, the stunt seems to imply that our government agencies are for sale to advertising agencies. What, now, would stop the Federal Reserve from replacing George Washington with Spider-Man on limited edition one-dollar bills? How about we offer up the sides of government buildings and vehicles (including military vehicles, too) for logos and billboards? And why not have the President tell us to drink Coca-Cola at the end of his State of the Union speech?

*For a follow-up on this story, which points out that the U.S. Mint was not involved, check out the following post:
Silver Surfer Quarters Are Not Legal Currency