In celebration of BMW Films 15th anniversary a new short film has launched featuring the the latest BMW 5 Series and return of Clive Owen's mysterious "driver". After kicking off the modern trend of branded short films back in 2001, BMW Films' new entry in its old series drops into a whole new world where viral content and expensive corporate advertisements dominate.
Back in 2001 BMW produced a series of eight short films under the banner The Hire. All were directed by big time Hollywood players (Tony Scott, Guy Ritchie, Ang Lee) and starred Clive Owen as a mysterious getaway driver for hire. The films predated YouTube and purportedly racked up over one hundred million views with BMW's sales growing 12 percent the year after the series began. Despite its success the series was discontinued in 2005, purportedly due to the increasing costs of the productions.
Over the last decade this type of branded short form content has become de rigeur for major corporations wanting to add some movie glitz and glamour to their products. From Chanel producing a $42-million, 180-second short film directed by Baz Luhrmann in 2004 to John Malkovich and Robert Rodriguez making a film for Louis XIII Cognac that has been secured in a time-locked safe set to premiere in one hundred years time.
With the advent of streaming video the novelty of creating a viral video to promote something has grown to be pretty standard, while the scale of these projects has got bigger and bigger. Last year the phenomenon reached an insane peak with Martin Scorsese directing a 15 minute short starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt. Intended to promote the opening of a casino in Macau the project reportedly cost $70 million and still has a significant aura of mystery surrounding it as it's yet to be released into the wilds of the internet.
BMW Films has returned to play in this new media landscape of branded content with its film titled The Escape directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, Chappie). Clive Owen's driver is back, this time helping a group of mercenaries headed by Jon Bernthal who are kidnapping a young girl who may be a clone (Dakota Fanning). The film is expectedly exciting with some sensational action filmmaking from Blomkamp, in particular a wonderful moment where the power of the new 5 Series manages to bring down a helicopter.
BMW Films hasn't formally announced whether this film is a one-off or the beginning in a new series. They may be waiting to see how strong the viral take up of this entry is. While the short is extremely entertaining, the digital video landscape isn't what it was 15 years ago. Attention spans are short and there are multitudes of videos competing for viral attention every single day. It's yet to be seen whether spending millions of dollars on these types of spectacular short films can pay off but this certainly is one of the most entertaining "advertisements" to hit the internet in quite some time.
Watch the entire film below:
Source: BMW Films