‘Cardboard Box Office’ family recreates hit movie scenes with household items

A scene from “Wah Wars,” inspired by “Star Wars,” of course.
Credit: Cardboard Box Office

An Australian family has found a clever and fun way to use old cardboard boxes and other items found around the house to recreate hit movies.

Leon and Lilly Mackie, along with their  adorable one-year-old son, Orson, spend their weekends creating movie scenes by using boxes and items they’ve accumulated from moving to a new country. The name of their ongoing movie project is called “Cardboard Box Office.”

Every movie scene is made completely from items found in the house and the cardboard boxes are stored in their garage. They also modify the titles of the movies to add to the fun.

The idea began about a year ago when they began creating movie scenes and sharing them with friends and family on Facebook. People enjoyed the concept and the idea grew into something bigger with now more than 25,000 fans on Facebook.

Metro chats with husband, father and one-third of the movie-making team, Leon Mackie, about his family’s homemade hits and the process involved with creating them.

Metro: Tell us about the first movie creation and at what point did you realize it was going to become something you do all the time?

Leon: Our first movie creation was ‘The Life Domestic.’ This photo was simply meant to be a one-off for friends and family. When we uploaded it to Facebook everyone started sharing it and complete strangers were asking what film we were going to recreate next. Since we were going to be home a lot on Saturday nights, we thought, why not?

Their first creation, “The Life Domestic,” inspired by the film, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.”

How long does the entire process take – from the initial idea to making the props to the actual photo?

Anywhere from two to five hours, depending on how many props need to be built and the complexity of the scene.

In all the pictures Orson looks like he really enjoys participating. Tell us about how he responds when it’s showtime.

He’s only ever in a scene for about a minute at the most, so he never really makes a fuss. For some reason he wouldn’t stop laughing during the Star Wars photo. That was one photo in which we needed him to have a serious expression so we let him have a chuckle for a while before we got the shot we needed. A lot of the time he’s quite fascinated with the transformation of the living space. As he’s been getting older he seems to be appreciating it more and more.

Are there times when Orson just isn’t in the mood for movie-making?

Sometimes he may be a bit cranky but he’s normally pretty happy to be part of whatever is going on.

What was the most difficult movie to recreate?

Probably the ‘Dark Knight.’ The city took a lot of work to create. It was built from lots of small boxes wrapped in brown paper with holes cut out of them stuffed with Christmas lights.

Any movies  you tried to create but had to stop because it wasn’t working?

Funnily enough, this hasn’t happened that often. By the time we have actually gotten to the point of building the set, the idea is pretty well worked out. In saying that, our Alien recreation was originally going to be the sequel (‘Aliens’) with Ripley battling the queen alien. We ran out of time so we went with much simpler the Ridley Scott original. There is no reason why we can’t do the other one in the future though, I guess. Hopefully, I come up with a better pun title for ‘Aliens.’ I hate the name Bubbalien. It doesn’t even make any sense. What was I thinking? It was late.

In your opinion, what was the movie recreation that you enjoyed doing the most? Which one got the most attention for being spot-on?

‘The Birds,’ I think. I was really happy with how the props, lighting and color turned out with that one. We were trying to make reference to those mid-century horror posters where the woman would be screaming and the lighting would be coming up from underneath for dramatic effect. I think it worked.

“The Birdies”
Credit: Cardboard Box Office

You mentioned that all the costumes and props are from cardboard boxes and household items. Where do you keep all the stuff?

The props and bits and pieces are kept in a cupboard and the cardboard is stored in the garage. The prop cupboard is absolute chaos. Overflowing with thread, glue, paper plates, wool, toilet rolls, egg cartons, box cutters, various types of sunglasses, etc.

Are people starting to request movies for you guys to create? If so, what are some of the craziest (or far-fetched) requests?

All the time. We get so many requests and really appreciate them. A lot of them are pretty standard box office hits but occasionally we get asked to do really obscure films by a fan of that particular movie. A person once asked us to do ‘Requiem for a Dream.’ They were kidding. I hope…

Have you ever considered creating tutorials on how to build their own movie props from household items?

Kind of. We do a tongue-in-cheek thing on our facebook page where the teddy bear shows you how to create props, though it’s more for entertainment than a credible how-to. There is also talk of a book where there may be a DIY element included.

Do you see yourselves creating movie scenes as Orson grows older?

Yeah. I think we’ll keep going with it until he says ‘no more’ or until when we run out of movie ideas. Whichever comes first.

The Mackie family has recreated scenes from many well-known films but, one of their best photos was when they recreated Ellen’s epic group selfie from the Oscars. Enjoy the .GIF we’ve created to illustrate how awesome this family is and how much they enjoy doing what they do.Cardboard Box Office ellen selfie GIF

To keep up with all their latest creations visit their site, cardboardboxoffice.com, and become a fan on their Facebook page.


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