LOS ANGELES (April 20, 2001) – Much like the excitement that builds toward the climax of a CART FedEx Championship Series race weekend, activity around the April 27 release of the motion picture Driven is speeding to its zenith.
Both film and race fans are anxiously awaiting Friday’s public opening of the high-action drama that was shot through much of the 2000 season with Champ Car racing as the backdrop. The picture stars Sylvester Stallone, Kip Pardue, Gina Gershon, Burt Reynolds, Estella Warren and Til Schweiger and was directed by Renny Harlin. Moviegoers in a variety of markets across the U.S. are receiving opportunities to view the film in advance of its general opening, along with media, celebrities, CART drivers, sponsors, team owners and officials.
“There is a buzz and a real sense of excitement about the film here in Southern California based on the successful world premiere we just witnessed Monday night in Hollywood. We look for that enthusiasm to roll across the country as the word-of-mouth messages begin among moviegoers and a significant advertising campaign kicks in and touts the movie nationally,” said Jay Lucas, CART’s senior vice president of sports entertainment based in Southern California.
“We have worked very closely with Warner Brothers., Franchise Films, Warner Brothers regional representatives, out race teams and sponsors and our race promoters to put together a rollout program that will help spread the excitement around the country over the next week.”
The special screenings, which will be conducted for media, winners of promotional tickets and other special guests, begin Monday in both Nazareth, Pa., and Cleveland. The screenings are focused primarily against CART race markets and increase to nine additional markets on Tuesday. Five more screenings are set for Wednesday and, on Thursday, three cities join the list. The film opens to the general public on Friday, with additional special events planned in Houston and Los Angeles to kick off the film’s debut.
“Our main objective in working on this film with Sylvester Stallone, Franchise Pictures and Warner Brothers, was to reach out to individuals who have had little or no exposure to our sport and to demonstrate to them the thrills associated with CART and Champ Car racing,” said Joe Heitzler, CART’s president/CEO. “This movie accurately conveys the sense of bigness, the spectacular nature of our racing and the excitement associated with each of our 21 events. We believe many people who see this film are going to walk away thinking about coming to a CART race or watching one of our events on television. It’s a great sampling opportunity for CART.”
A variety of special activities and appearances are planned in conjunction with several of the screenings. Mario and Michael Andretti will be on hand for the Nazareth screening while Team Rahal drivers Kenny Brack and Max Papis will be attending Tuesday screenings in Columbus, Ohio and Milwaukee, respectively.
Brack moves to Houston on Wednesday where he will be joined by Mario Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi for the film’s opening in that Texas city. In all, CART and Warner Brothers have joined to conduct 31 special screenings in 22 markets around the country next week.
The film’s pre-opening festivities kicked off on Monday, when CART took over Hollywood Boulevard during the world premiere at Mann’s Chinese Theatre. CART drivers Brack, Michel Jourdain, Jr., Mauricio Gugelmin, Cristiano da Matta and Paul Tracy were on hand to make the kind of statement only CART, its Champ Cars and drivers could make.
Tracy opened the activities as he and his Team KOOL Green pit crew did four pit stop demonstrations in his 900-horsepower Honda/Reynard, sending the unique, ear-piercing Champ Car sound throughout the neighborhood, assaulting the ears of thousands of fans and moviegoers who watched from the streets and sidewalks surrounding the theatre. The foursome of Brack, Jourdain, Gugelmin and da Matta then raced in CART Driving 101 cars around the block surrounding the theatre before Tracy did tire-smoking doughnuts in front of the theatre to end the CART stars’ portion of the program.
“It was a terrific way to introduce our drivers and their cars, help kick off the movie and bring CART to Hollywood,” said Lucas. “It’s safe to say that this is one movie premiere that will hold a place of prominence in Hollywood’s collective memory for a long time to come.”
CART race promoters have been busy in each of their markets, merchandising the local premieres in conjunction with CART and Warner Brothers representatives. Radio promotions have created awareness for the film and given CART a strong presence in most markets. CART merchandise and the CART Driving 101 Driving Experience are part of screenings in many instances and race tickets for upcoming events have been available as part of the promotional packages.
‘Driven’ Special Screenings Schedule
Monday, April 23: Nazareth, Pa.; Cleveland, Ohio.
Tuesday, April 24: Lansing, Mich.; Detroit; Houston; Columbus, Ohio; Milwaukee; Long Beach, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; Atlanta; Indianapolis;
Wednesday, April 25: Houston; Detroit; Portland, Ore.; Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Thursday, April 26: Monterey, Calif.;Chicago; Cleveland.
Note: Additional Warner Bros. promotional screenings are planned throughout the week in the following cities: Seattle, Portland, Miami, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Nashville.
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