This summer is loaded with huge, big budget, heavy special effects laden popcorn films making it one of the most exciting summers in recent history for event movies. Films like “Fantastic Four,” “War of the Worlds,” “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,” “Star Wars Episode III” and “Batman Begins” will all be competing for the number one position at the box office. Already, the marketing campaigns for each have been fierce with marketing campaigns going wide almost four months in advance for some films.
The race for the top spot at the box office stepped up a notch today when Warner Bros. announced that the June 19th Nextel Cup Race will be named the “Batman Begins 400,” named after the film which will see release June 15th. In addition to the race bearing the name of the film, Batman will be seen on the race track in a number of different ways. Two cars run by Roush Racing will feature a “Batman Begins” scheme, one car driven by Mark Martin and the other by Ricky Craven. In addition, the Detroit Free Press says rumors say that the Batmobile used in the film may make an appearance at the event, but whether or not it will just be on display or will actually take a trip around the oval. There’s also the possibility that actor Christian Bale, who plays Bruce Wayne/Batman in the film, may make an appearance at the race, although that’s still being negotiated.
While this may be the first time a super hero has held naming rights for a major sporting event, this isn’t the first time the super heroes have been a part of Nascar. For instance, last year saw DC’s familiar Justice League heroes grace the sides of race cars.
The full press release is reprinted below.
BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–April 27, 2005–NASCAR, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and International Speedway Corporation announced today that Batman Begins(TM), the highly anticipated film from Warner Bros. Pictures, will take center stage at Michigan International Speedway on June 19 for the running of the NASCAR Nextel Cup “Batman Begins 400.” The film opens worldwide on June 15. The “Batman Begins 400 at Michigan International Speedway” will be broadcast live on FOX.
“The launch of Batman Begins will be fun for the fans at the track and those watching from home,” said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France. “Batman will cheer on the 43 super heroes that will be competing for the Batman Begins 400 at Michigan International Speedway.”
“We’re looking forward to pairing the on-screen excitement of Batman Begins to the on-track excitement of NASCAR,” said Dan Romanelli, President, Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products. “A fast car, the Batmobile(TM), and a host of high-tech gadgets have always been key to Batman’s success in fighting his way to victory over crime. As NASCAR’s finest drivers take to the track on June 19 for the Batman Begins 400 at Michigan International Speedway, they will utilize all of the high-tech gadgets at their disposal to take their team to victory lane.”
Roush Racing legend Mark Martin will get a little extra Batman power to help him get to Victory Lane, as his Ford will feature a special Batman Begins paint scheme for the race. Martin’s fellow Roush Racing driver, Ricky Craven, will also be sporting a Batman Begins scheme during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event on June 18.
“Our relationship with Warner Bros. has been long and incredibly rewarding for NASCAR fans,” said Lesa France Kennedy, President of International Speedway Corporation. “With the Batman Begins 400 we are taking the entertainment factor to a new level. We’re looking forward to seeing the racing action unfold on the track — and the super hero action unfold in theaters.”
Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight’s emergence as a force for good in Gotham. In the wake of his parents’ murder, disillusioned industrial heir Bruce Wayne (CHRISTIAN BALE) travels the world seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful. He returns to Gotham and unveils his alter-ego: Batman, a masked crusader who uses his strength, intellect and an array of high tech deceptions to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city.
Race fans will have a front-row seat for a one-of-a-kind celebration of the film’s launch when the Batmobile from the film leads the pack of 43 race cars off of pit road to start the battle for the checkered flag.
Besides the on-track action that fans will be able to enjoy during the weekend, the newly redesigned fan area behind the main grandstand at Michigan International Speedway will incorporate the Batman Begins Fan Zone, which will feature the Batmobile from the film, Mark Martin’s Batman Begins themed car, the Ricky Craven truck, and the fantasy and event cars that are part of the weekend’s Batman action. The Batman Begins Fan Zone will also include other activities and exclusive merchandise based on the film and the Batman Begins 400.
After enjoying both the race and the film, fans of the Dark Knight(TM) can also extend their experience in the form of a full line of merchandise being offered by companies such as Mattel and Team Caliber. Both companies, experts in racing-inspired merchandise, are offering a line of die-cast vehicles based on the special Batman Begins paint schemes. Mattel also has a full range of products based on the film including the Batmobile, Batman action figures and playsets.
“We are very proud to be making history with the Batman Begins 400 at MIS, and to again be partnering with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Comics, and Roush Racing,” said Michigan International Speedway President, Brett Shelton. “Our fans really enjoyed the Justice League racing weekend last August and I know it will be another outstanding weekend of racing. This race sponsorship certainly adds to our history of putting super heroes in Victory Lane at MIS.”
While this is the first time a major motion picture is serving as the title sponsor of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race, it is not the first time Warner Bros. Consumer Products has been involved with NASCAR or Michigan International Speedway. Just last August, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Comics partnered with Michigan International Speedway for the highly successful Justice League Racing Weekend Presented by Hot Wheels, as some of NASCAR’s top drivers piloted cars emblazoned with the familiar heroes of the Justice League. Adding to the excitement of that weekend was the fact that Roush Racing’s Greg Biffle and his super hero counterpart, The Flash took home the checkered flag. NASCAR fans may also remember the ever-popular Looney Tunes programs and paint schemes at both Richmond International Raceway (2001, 2002) and Phoenix International Raceway (2003).
“It’s an honor to be participating in the Batman Begins program this season, especially at Michigan, which I consider our home track,” said Jack Roush. “We had a great time with Greg’s (Biffle) victory last year with The Flash paint scheme on his car, so I am banking on Batman providing incentive to both Mark and Ricky this year.”
Fans can still purchase tickets to the Batman Begins 400 by calling MIS at 1-800-354-1010 or logging on to www.MISpeedway.com.
About Warner Bros. Consumer Products
Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world.
About DC Comics
DC Comics, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is the largest English-language publisher of comics in the world and home to such iconic characters as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Sandman. These DC super heroes and others have starred in comic books, movies, television series (both animated and live-action) and cyberspace, thrilling audiences of all ages for generations. DC Comics’ Web site is located at www.dccomics.com.
International Speedway Corporation is a leading promoter of motorsports activities in the United States, currently promoting more than 100 events annually. The Company owns and/or operates 12 of the nation’s major motorsports facilities, including Daytona International Speedway, home of the prestigious Daytona 500 as well as Talladega Superspeedway and Michigan International Speedway. For more information, visit the Company’s Web site at www.iscmotorsports.com.
About Michigan International Speedway
Michigan International Speedway is wholly-owned subsidiary of International Speedway Corporation, a leading promoter of motorsports activities in the United States, currently promoting more than 100 events at 12 major motorsports facilities annually. To purchase tickets to events at MIS, or for more information, log on to www.MISpeedway.com, or call the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010.
BATMAN and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and (C) DC Comics.