Randy Bernard hits another Home Run for IndyCar
Of all the good things that Randy Bernard has done for IndyCar, nothing ranks higher than yesterday's announced deal by Dreamworks to feature IndyCar and the Indy 500 in the film 'Turbo'. As this article that follows that appears in this week's SportsBusiness Daily the exposure that IndyCar will get with the general public is huge and probably cannot be measured. It is the single most important defining moment in IndyCar's recent history. Now let's hope IndyCar takes every advantage it can to market its series in conjunction with 'Turbo.'
When Randy Bernard’s secretary said he had a call from Jeffrey Katzenberg a year and a half ago, the IndyCar Series CEO stopped working on the email he was writing and tried to compose himself. It wasn’t easy. His mind kept racing as he thought about DreamWorks’ colossal success with the movie “Shrek.”
|Randy Bernard - The best thing that happened to IndyCar in a very very long time|
“I don’t know how many of these calls you get, but would you fly out here to visit with me?” said Katzenberg, DreamWorks’ Los Angeles-based CEO. “We have a fantastic idea and movie we’re making, and at the core of its idea is a celebration of the great 100-year tradition of Indianapolis and dream of many racers around the world. Come let me show you the story. I think it will put a smile on your face.”
Bernard had a smile on his face before he even hung up the phone. The possibility that DreamWorks wanted to feature the Indy 500 in a movie was huge for the Izod IndyCar Series. The subsequent meeting in 2010 put in motion an 18-month effort that will result in the race being a signature scene in the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film “Turbo.”
The animated film tells the story of a snail that dreams of being a great racer who is fast enough to win the Indy 500. The final act of the film shows him competing in an animated re-creation of the race that is so realistic it’s “hard to believe it’s animated,” Bernard said. “Turbo” is slated for release July 19, 2013.
Actor Ryan Reynolds has signed on to provide the voice for Turbo the snail. Other actors involved in the film include Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, Luis Guzman, Snoop Dogg and Samuel L. Jackson.
Katzenberg said DreamWorks writers never considered having the snail dream of winning any race but the Indy 500. “In the world at large, when you think about speed and racing, and what is still really the grand prize of them all?” Katzenberg said. “It’s the Kentucky Derby if you’re riding a horse, it’s Wimbeldon if you’re playing tennis, the Super Bowl if you’re playing football, World Series if you’re playing baseball, and for car racing it’s the Indianapolis 500. It’s the Tiffany premier road racing event in the world. If you could find yourself going 200 mph, your dream would be to win the Indy 500.”
DreamWorks cut a licensing agreement with the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway to feature the race in the film. It also plans to feature several IndyCar Series cars, drivers and sponsors.
In exchange for allowing DreamWorks to feature the race, IndyCar executives expect to benefit from the exposure and marketing around the film. DreamWorks’ last 12 animated theatrical releases have grossed roughly $6 billion worldwide. The production company is expected to spend as much as $100 million marketing and promoting the film.
“What value is that to Indy?” Katzenberg asked. “What does that commercial on TV say? Priceless. And our value is that we want authenticity.”
Bernard said, “They don’t hint around that this is some type of race car. It’s IndyCar and the Indy 500. We’re not fools. We understand the value of being in a movie like this.”
IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti is a technical adviser for the movie.
DreamWorks Animation and IndyCar declined to name the other drivers who will be featured.
The project was the catalyst for IndyCar establishing its Los Angeles office last year. The company hired Sarah Nettinga, who formerly worked at NASCAR and was an executive producer on “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” as vice president of IndyCar Entertainment, and she managed the relationship with DreamWorks.
Bernard considers the movie to be the Los Angeles office’s first success. The film will be distributed worldwide and reach a young audience that IndyCar doesn’t reach naturally.
“When I put things on my list of what I wanted to do here, this was exactly one of them,” he said. “This is huge for us.”