I was just so-so on last year's movie version of Douglas Adams' beloved novel, from Disney, but the squat and bulbous Marvin the Robot was easily among the best elements in the film. As it happens-- and I can't believe this is only being publicized now, as it was mentioned during a talk at last year's Second Life Community Convention-- Marvin was prototyped in Second Life, on Fizik Baskerville's island of Avalon. Fizik and his team created an SL version of Marvin so they could help the movie's strategic planners work on elements of how Marvin stood, and moved. Linden Lab's official newsletter has the full story. My story on how the island came to be is here. (Full disclosure: Mr. Baskerville has since become a meatspace bud o' mine.)
This story is huge for at least three reasons: as with the Coca Cola-backed concert next week, you have through Fizik's client Disney another international corporation indirectly financing a Second Life project. But even beyond that, you have that giant media company using SL to create assets for use in their own IP. And still beyond that, you have Second Life being used as a platform for a major motion picture, as if it was a Silicon Graphics machine or an Avid editing suite.
So three breakthroughs from a chubby little robot quietly waddling along the shore of a private island last year.
Update, April 17: After interviewing Fizik in-world, turns out it's more accurate to say the promotion and marketing campaign for Hitchhiker's was protyped with the SL Marvin. The character's design was already created by the film's production design team. Details here.