GM Vehicles Help Make Movie Magic
From Motor City to Hollywood, cars take leading role on the Silver Screen
DETROIT – Lights, camera, start your engines! For one night each year, Hollywood gathers to honor the best in the movie industry. Yet, an often unsung star in these films seldom receives the credit it deserves – the automobile.
Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac have produced some of the toughest, fastest, most stylish and most cutting-edge American-made vehicles to have appeared in countless films. From classics like American Graffiti (1973) and Rain Man (1988) to modern action movies like the TRANSFORMERS franchise (2007, 2009, and 2011) and The Matrix Reloaded (2003), General Motors vehicles have been scene stealers in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
“The high-profile association with a blockbuster and classic movies gives Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac wonderful exposure to those not familiar with the brand,” said Steve Tihanyi, general director Branded Entertainment & Marketing Alliances. “We are always looking for unique ways to humanize and expose our vehicles to new consumers and there will always be a certain ‘cool’ factor in starring on the big screen.”
Most recently, the Chevrolet Camaro sports car took a starring role as Bumblebee in the TRANSFORMERS (2007),TRANSFORMERS: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and TRANSFORMERS: Dark of the Moon (2011). Two Chevrolet Camaro TRANSFORMERS Special Edition vehicles were offered by Chevrolet that sold about 3,000 units, transferring the big screen appeal to the roadway.
The Camaro wasn’t alone among Chevrolets to appear in the TRANSFORMER’s franchise. The Corvette Stingray Concept and a 1965 Chevrolet Malibu also had cameo roles. All three are now part of GM’s Heritage Collection.
“Cars have a lot in common with movies, and there is an often an emotional connection between the audience and the featured car,” said Elliot Wilhelm, film curator for the Detroit Institute of Arts and founder of the Detroit Film Theatre. “You often hear audible groans or see cringes form the audience when a beautiful car is destroyed in a movie.”
Vin Diesel did just that with a Corvette in the 2002 action thriller “xXx” – narrating as 18 cameras filmed the dive from the 730-foot Forresthill Bridge in Auburn, Calif. A stunt double parachutes to safety before Vin’s character, Xander Cage, escapes with buddies waiting at the river bed below. Diesel later used a weapons-modified 1967 Pontiac GTO as his ride.
Who could forget director Tim Burton’s Batmobile from Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992)? It was a “bat”-customized Chevy Impala? Or the 1959 Cadillac that was the chase of Pink Cadillac (1989)? Here are others but hardly a complete list:
American Graffiti (1973) – In the coming-of-age movie that helped launch the Hollywood careers of Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard and Harrison Ford, a 1955 Chevrolet One-Fifty and 1958 Chevrolet Impala were an ode to the car culture of the 1960s.
Smokey & the Bandit (1977) – The “Bandit,” played by Burt Reynolds, is a maverick racecar driver behind the wheel of a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am. The movie led to two sequels and for Pontiac’s 50th anniversary, 15,567 special Black and Gold edition Trans Ams were created.
Ghostbusters (1984) – In the 1984 comedy, a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Ambulance is introduced to audiences worldwide as, “a hunk of junk.” Saved by Ray Stantz, played by Dan Aykroyd, the car is converted into the ultimate ghostbusting machine – the Ectomobile.
Rain Man (1988) – After inheriting a 1949 Buick Roadmaster Convertible from his father, Tom Cruises’ character, Charlie Babbitt, and his brother Raymond, played by Dustin Hoffman, spend the majority of Rain Man behind the wheel of the classic Buick that helps bring the two together.
Demolition Man (1993) – Many of the cars in the 1993 action, sci-fi movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock were GM concept and prototypes vehicles, including a 1991 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept, 1992 GM Ultralite and GM Lean Machine. The 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 that was used in the movie is currently on display at the GM Heritage Center.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003) – In the sequel to the 1999 blockbuster, the Cadillac CTS gets into the action serving as the vehicle of Trinity, Neo and Morpheus. The GM Heritage Collection houses the actual vehicle used during filming, complete with bullet holes.