Come Super Bowl Sunday, this year's crop of movie commercials won't be the only ads with connections to the world of movies. At least five spots from car companies — traditionally big players in Super Bowl advertising — will feature Hollywood stars, directors and imagery. Here's a rundown.
Jaguar enlists a trio of British villains. Poking fun at Hollywood's proclivity for casting British actors in villainous roles, Jaguar's 60-second spot "Rendezvous" features Ben Kingsley (a bad guy in "Iron Man 3" and "Sexy Beast"), Tom Hiddleston (Loki in the "Thor" and "Avengers" movies) and Mark Strong (of "Sherlock Holmes" and "Kick-Ass") at their smooth and sinister best.
"Maybe we just sound right," Strong purrs before stepping into a sleek white F-Type coupe. Hiddleston flies by in a helicopter, without spilling a drop of his brimming cuppa, while a tuxedo-clad Kingsley holds down a high-tech fort.
The ad, which will be Jaguar's first to air during the Super Bowl, was directed by a Brit as well: Tom Hooper, of "The King's Speech" and "Les Misérables" fame. Watch the spot here.
Kia enters "The Matrix." Kia has chosen a movie hero for its ad "The Truth," and reached back 15 years to do so. In the ad, Laurence Fishburne reprises his role as Morpheus from "The Matrix" and offers a confused couple at a valet parking station the choice between a red car key and a blue one, recalling the movie's "red pill, blue pill" scene. The red key leads them to a Kia K900 — and a slightly incongruous Morpheus rendition of the Puccini aria "Nessun dorma."
Given how the teenagers and college kids who loved "The Matrix" circa the late '90s could well now be in the market for a more upscale sedan like the K900, it's not a bad reference. But the commercial is directed by Carl Rinsch, who recently helmed "47 Ronin," and Colin Jeffery. Hopefully the ad fares better than "Ronin." Watch the spot here.
CarMax does the slow clap from "Rudy." Used-car retailer CarMax references another '90s film, the underdog football tale "Rudy," in "Slow Clap." In the commercial, a satisfied customer thanks his car salesman, who then begins slowly, steadily, contagiously applauding, mirroring the climactic scene of "Rudy." In case the Rudy theme wasn't clear, that film's star, Sean Astin, even makes a cameo in the commercial sporting a letterman jacket. You can watch the spot here. (Incidentally, in an effort to appeal to fans of the Puppy Bowl, CarMax has also released a canine-filled "Slow Bark" variation.)
Toyota holds a Muppets singalong. Toyota and Disney are teaming up to hawk the Toyota Highlander and beat the drum for the upcoming "Muppets Most Wanted" movie, out March 21. The ad features actor and former NFL player Terry Crews, who happens upon a stalled tour bus and soon finds his car overrun by musical Muppets. The gang proceeds to break into song, crash a seniors bingo game, crush some grapes and dance in the streets. Watch the spot here.
Ford pads James Franco's résumé further. Ford has tapped actor James Franco to appear in a Super Bowl that will run after the coin toss but before kickoff, according to Ad Age. Franco, who can now add "star of a Super Bowl commercial" to his ever-expanding CV, posted a photo of himself on Instagram recently; it shows him on set of the spot, suspended from cables while wearing a tuxedo and holding a white rose. For now that's all there is to go on for the spot, which has yet to appear online and remains mysterious. So Franco.
[Update, 2:19 p.m.: Ford has released a teaser for the Franco spot. Flanked by a tiger, Franco promises, "This is no ordinary commercial."]