In September 2013, Leon Mackie and Lilly Lang realised they had a lot of old cardboard boxes leftover after a series of moves over the last two years — once from Wellington, New Zealand to Melbourne, Australia in 2012, and again from Melbourne to Sydney four months ago.
“We had been living in Melbourne for about a year and our garage was still full of flattened moving boxes,” Lang explained to Business Insider. “I wanted to throw them in the recycling bin but Leon was adamant that we’d be able to use them for something.”
That time came in September 2013 when the couple decided to take a family picture with their 10-month-old son Orson.
“We decided to do something that showed how messy and sleep-deprived our lives had become now that Orson was at the driver’s seat,” Lang explains. “That photo was the ‘Life Domestic.’ People loved it and asked for more. Suddenly we had a use for the boxes. It just went from there.”
The family of three now has a website called Cardboard Box Office with its own Twitter and Facebook pages with over 18,000 likes. They try and upload a new scene from a famous film — such as “Star Wars” and “The Dark Knight” — every few weeks with Orson the star of the shoots. As their popularity has grown, they have even started asking fans for movie suggestions.
Lang says it takes her and Mackie three to five hours to set up each scene, depending on their costumes, props, and how staging goes during the week.
They only use common household items like plates, laundry baskets, tape, toys, pots, and those cardboard boxes. Lang said “Wah Wars” (the family’s parody of “Star Wars”) took the longest due to building the guns, lightsaber, and Mackie’s Han Solo equipment belt.
“We choose films that contain either an iconic set, costume, vehicle, or monster,” Lang said. “If it doesn’t contain at least one of these elements the references in our version of the film won’t be obvious enough to work.”
“Because of this reason we’re having a real struggle coming up with any rom-coms — which doesn’t seem to bother Leon in the slightest,” she added.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.