As we said, we’re back with an all-new blog, and to celebrate, we’re going to take a little journey back to the start of the millennium. In the dark days before YouTube, videos still existed on the internet. They had to work harder to go viral without a universal playback format and forum. Hard work is exactly the kind of thing that BMW is known for, though, which is why their BMW Films series was so successful.
Ever on the cutting edge of what you expect from a car company, BMW was not satisfied with ordinary advertisements, and in 2001 they set out to change the way cars are marketed. They enlisted A-list talent behind the cameras and on film to create a series of shorts starring BMW models and The Driver, Clive Owen. Produced by Anonymous Content, the BMW Films series followed Owen’s character, a mercenary whose weapon of choice was whatever BMW he was currently driving, as he carried out a variety of contracts. Think The Transporter, but less bald.
Many of the faces that appeared alongside Owen are familiar now, but may not have been at the time. There were established stars like Don Cheadle and Madonna, but then there were also faces like Mickey Rourke, Forest Whitaker, and Stellan Skarsgård that were new to most audiences. BMW Films did more than show off the Z4 and the M5. They also put people on the map.
The same was true for the directors. Several directors that we recognize now from hearing their names called at award shows were given a chance to leave their mark and sharpen their own style. Ang Lee directed an episode with a very mystical and awe-inspiring tone. Guy Ritchie wrote and directed the episode with Madonna – they were married then – which had a lighter tone, full of Ritchie’s characteristically witty dialogue. John Woo even helmed one of the episodes, and while it was one of the most tense, the flock of doves was conspicuously absent.
The most memorable film by far starred James Brown himself and Gary Oldman as the Devil. When he was young James Brown sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for the dance moves and talents that made him famous. The film focuses on an aging James Brown who has hired Clive Owen as his driver. The two of them confront the Devil and Brown demands they renegotiate his contract to account for the aging process. He challenges the Devil to an all-or-nothing drag race on the Vegas Strip at dawn, pitting Owen against the Devil’s driver, Danny Trejo. There’s also a cameo by Marilyn Manson. If you want to see the results of the race, you’ll just have to watch.
The film series inspired several other companies like Nissan and Mercedes-Benz to try their own hand at it, but none came close to the level of success of BMW. Perhaps that is part of why earlier this year, the Bavarian automaker announced that they would be producing a third season. There are no additional details at this time, but looking at new models like the current M3 and M4, the X4, and of course the i8, we’re excited to see what sorts of thrilling chases the Driver will get into in the new films. Leith BMW will let you know when we find out more.
News Source: Autoblog