Movie could transform views of GM

Promo shot for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

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Steve Chiotakis: It could be a summer blockbuster. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hits theaters today. The first Transformers movie came out a couple of years ago and raked in, oh, $700 million worldwide. As fans will know the films feature characters based on cars and trucks, and many of those are GM vehicles. The latest flick comes out as GM is in the midst of a bankruptcy. Could be great timing, as Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.


Ashley Milne-Tyte: General Motors gave the Transformers moviemakers almost 70 cars. GM made the decision to work on the sequel long before the wheels came off its own operations.

Marc Graser is a senior writer at Variety. He says the studio's not that bothered about the car maker being in bankruptcy.

Marc Graser: Having GM on board means, y'know, tens of millions of dollars in marketing support that Paramount now doesn't have. But when you have a film like Transformers, y'know, the sequel, they don't need that money.

Paramount says plenty of other brands are helping to promote the movie. Graser says the franchise has legions of fans eager to see what befalls teenager Sam Witwicky this time round. Once again, the Autobots have to protect him and planet Earth from the evil Decepticons:

Autobot: We've kept much from you, Sam.

Sam Witwicky: This isn't my war!

Autobot: I fear it soon will be.

But it's the cars that are the real stars in Transformers, especially when they morph into robots. GM's using the film to promote at least one of its cars: the Chevy Camaro stars as a major character. But GM has slashed its marketing budget and won't say how much it's spending on the high-octane ads that are playing in movie theaters.

John Wolconowicz is an auto analyst with IHS Global Insight. He believes GM will emerge quickly from Chapter 11. And he says the film's timing is perfect.

John Wolconowicz: You're gonna get a lot of instances where kids who are not old enough to buy a car are gonna ask Dad, let's go down to the Chevy dealer and see that new Camaro. And Dad might wind up driving out in a Malibu or a Silverado or something else that's more practical.

GM vehicles get all the good parts in this movie. Well, they're the good guys anyway. Variety's Marc Graser says that turns the film into one long commercial for the carmaker. He says GM's bankruptcy will be last thing on the audience's mind.

Graser: The movie is so big and it involves characters that are so loved that, you know, having GM play those characters will only make GM look better in the eyes of the consumer. It's a cool factor that you just can't buy.

Even if you could afford it.

I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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