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Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 Breaks Into The Movies

Exactly one year after an all-new version of the Ford Mondeo was introduced to James Bond fans in the movie Casino Royale, another Ford vehicle is about to get some major screen time in a holiday blockbuster.

Beginning Dec. 14, look for a 2007 Shelby Mustang GT500 — in red with signature white stripes — to chew up the scenery and the streets of New York City in I Am Legend, starring Will Smith.

2008 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

2008 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

"There is no doubt that the Shelby Mustang GT500 is the costar of the first part of this story," said Brian Daly of Ford Global Brand Entertainment (FGBE), which places Ford vehicles in movies, TV and other media. "Smith plays the sole survivor of an apocalypse who races around the deserted, gray, empty streets in this fantastic bright red Mustang. The sequences are incredible."

And Daly isn't the only one who thinks so. The movie is already generating buzz on a Los Angeles Times auto blog, where automotive reporter Josh Hancock says, "The shots of the Mustang blasting around totally traffic-free New York will be the envy of every urban driver. I lost myself in that dream just with the sound of that car growling through the city streets."

Daly began talking with Warner Bros. about I Am Legend in the spring of 2006. Thanks to a long working relationship with several studio executives he was able to get a "first look" at the script.

"The producers knew they wanted an American-made vehicle and the Shelby Mustang was perfect casting," he said. "But I also knew Chrysler and GM were making pitches. I kept imagining the folks at Camaro piecing together all kinds of prototypes to get those scenes."

I Am Legend isn't the first movie version of Richard Matheson's classic 1954 science fiction novel to feature a red Ford vehicle. A 1971 adaptation called The Omega Man put Charlton Heston behind the wheel of a bright red 1970 Ford LTD.

But this time around, it's not just a Ford convertible that gets face time. Smith also shares scenes with a Ford Expedition and a Ford Escape Hybrid.

"Getting Ford brand vehicles in movies like I Am Legend works in two ways," said Bob Witter, manager, FGBE. "First, producers know that as the audience recognizes a vehicle they see in real life or have been thinking about, the story becomes more relatable. And second, when our products are on-screen they can engage the viewer in a totally different fashion and help enhance our commercial and marketing investments."

Ford vehicles had a busy year in the movies in 2007, and many of these films are now in the process of being released on DVD. They include The Kingdom, which featured a Range Rover and starred Jamie Foxx; Dan in Real Life, with a Volvo and Steve Carell; Rush Hour 3, with a Jaguar XK and Jackie Chan; and Nancy Drew, which included a Ford Escape and Land Rover LR3 and starred Emma Roberts.

And 2008 is shaping up as another strong year on-screen for Ford. For example, slated for release early next year is Nights in Rodanthe, which pairs Richard Gere with a 2008 Jaguar XK that required some very special attention.

"They wanted the car to match his hair," said Witter. "We delivered a gray Jaguar, but it wasn't the right shade."

To give it just the perfect hue, Witter had the Jaguar XK coated in plastic and repainted. Peel coating is an old ploy in Hollywood, where special colors for vehicles are not unusual requests. Once the project is over, the plastic is removed and the vehicle is back to its original condition.

"It's an amazing trick. Once the plastic is peeled off, you can never tell the car was touched," said Witter. "Eventually those cars are sold at auction. Someone could be out there driving Richard Gere's costar right now and never even know it."

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