BMW Films to Return

Remember the films BMW produced in 2001-2002? They’re hard to forget really. With movie-quality production values and a cast to match, the original series of eight films – called ‘The Hire’ – have amassed over 100 million views collectively online. Bearing in mind this doesn’t count YouTube (which surfaced in 2005), it goes to show just how much traction the films got and continue to have.

The 2001-2002 series was devised to promote BMW’s range at the time, using directorial talent such as And Lee, Guy Ritchie and Tony Scott to make the quick-fire films come to life. In front of the camera there was also considerable talent. Actors such as Mickey Rourke, Madonna, Marilyn Manson and Ray Liotta taking centre stage in what became critically acclaimed short films. One thing was constant; Clive Owen was ‘the driver’ in each – a man available for hire to fulfil the needs of his employer, whoever they might be.

Now, BMW of North America has announced that it will be producing a new short film. Called ‘The Escape’, it pays homage to the 15 years since the original series and like its forebear has a cast of top-draw actors and directors. To this end, the film is directed by Academy Award nominated Neill Blomkamp (director of acclaimed District 9) and once again features Oscar nominated Clive Owen as ‘the driver’. In addition, Dakota Fanning, Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga star in the short film, which premiers on October 23rd at 6pm EST (11pm in the UK) on www.BMWFilms.com (there’s already a sneak peek up).

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John Bernthal on set of The Escape

The original series needs little introduction. Its approach to brand promotion was different by advertising BMW cars implicitly rather than explicitly. And it worked: BMW sold 12% more cars in 2001 compared to 2000, and whilst this isn’t just down to ‘The Hire’, it played a very big role in the success. Such was the popularity of the (originally online-only) films that BMW put them onto DVD in compilation form and moreover, both Time Magazine and The New York Times heaped praise on the series for creating entertaining content for what they called ‘discerning movie watchers’. It’s fair to say that ‘The Hire’ changed the face of advertising forever.

It’s quite hard to pick a favourite among the original ‘The Hire’ films, but what with much E39 M5 content and perhaps the world’s best no-handed drift, we at BMW Car magazine rate ‘Star’, featuring Madonna, as our favourite of the series.

Take a look for yourself.

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