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Cadillac CTS And Escalade EXT Make Film History



this little article mentions how they used the avalanche to help morph into an EXT for the new matrix movie...

Cadillac CTS and Escalade EXT Make Film History
2003-05-07 10:01 (New York)

In 'The Matrix Reloaded'

DETROIT, May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- In General Motors' largest product
placement effort ever, two of Cadillac's boldest products, the CTS sedan and
Escalade EXT sport utility truck, will star in a spectacular car chase in
Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' "The Matrix Reloaded,"
one of the year's most anticipated films.
The film, which hits theaters May 15, is the second installment of a
trilogy that began with "The Matrix," the 1999 release that revolutionized the
science-fiction/action film genre with groundbreaking special effects and
innovative storytelling, spawning an edgy, high-tech following and earning
four Academy Awards. "The Matrix" also was the first DVD to sell a million
units and has since become the top-selling DVD of all time.
The Cadillac CTS and Escalade EXT appear in "The Matrix Reloaded" in one
of the most elaborate freeway chase sequences ever filmed. After spending
months searching for the perfect highway location, filmmakers were unable to
find an existing freeway that met the necessary production requirements, so
they built their own mile-and-a-half-long freeway -- complete with a 19-foot
high wall and two overpasses -- on a runway at the Alameda Naval Base.
"Cadillac has a long, rich history of interaction with American pop
culture in film, television and music, and this role in 'The Matrix Reloaded,'
for us, is another tangible symbol of Cadillac's product renaissance," said
Mark LaNeve, Cadillac general manager. "Even though Cadillac has appeared in
more than 100 films over the past 100 years, this marks the first time
Cadillac has strategically invested and leveraged its products in a major
"We selected Cadillac to play a major role in 'The Matrix Reloaded'
because we knew the CTS and EXT could handle our rigorous production demands,
as well as fit seamlessly into the innovative, hyper-stylized world of the
Matrix," said Joel Silver, producer of "The Matrix" trilogy.
Cadillac also saw their vehicles as a perfect fit for this much
anticipated film and invested a significant amount of time and vehicles to the
project. Cadillac turned over more than 24 vehicles to Silver Pictures to use
in "The Matrix Reloaded" freeway chase. The spectacular sequence runs
approximately 15 minutes but offers little insight into how Cadillac created
two-dozen vehicles that didn't yet exist. The story melds talent, hard work
and impeccable timing.

The story behind the story
It began in late 2000, when GM learned Warner Bros. Pictures was seeking
vehicles for "The Matrix Reloaded." Familiar with the provocative, edgy,
high-tech nature of the film, members of GM's corporate marketing team
instantly thought of Cadillac. The opportunity to play a role in the film fit
well into Cadillac's larger strategic promotional plans, which aimed at
getting Cadillac's bold new products to appear in unexpected places.
"One of Cadillac's biggest challenges is to gain more consideration among
young, affluent audiences," said Kim Kosak, Cadillac advertising and
promotions director. "'The Matrix Reloaded' provides an unexpected stage for
Cadillac and great visibility with customers who are difficult to reach with
conventional media and might not have considered a Cadillac in the past. It
also gives moviegoers a chance to see the vehicles in action in a dramatic
So, after much discussion about timing, logistics, product availability
and fit, Cadillac was fully on board to have its vehicles cast in the film
even though the boldly styled CTS and Escalade EXT were at least a year from
Movie representatives flew to Detroit, Mich. to look at vehicles, sketches
and photos. It soon became clear the CTS was a frontrunner. During a visit
to a Detroit-area vehicle prep facility, filmmakers inspected the second
generation Cadillac Escalade that was a few months away from production, but
they were unconvinced it was the right fit for the chase.
Then, from across the room, they spotted one of two prototype Escalade EXT
sport utility trucks. Its proportions and unconventional appearance had the
look they needed.

Building something from nothing
From a logistical perspective, building the CTS was a fairly reasonable
proposition. The car was about to enter the testing phase, which required
numerous prototype vehicles for various engineering evaluations. After
speaking with the CTS engineers about "The Matrix" project, CTS Vehicle Line
Executive Jim Taylor commissioned Bernie LaCroix, assistant chief engineer, to
round up the team.
"We were one year from production, the absolute peak period of engineering
work," said LaCroix. "Quite frankly, it took some persuading to convince the
team this was worth doing because they were focused on executing a flawless
product launch. But soon, they warmed up to the idea and then really started
getting into it. We worked together to figure out a way to do both without
compromising either."
The CTS team pulled five vehicles from the prototype run and built them to
exact specifications. They also secured half a dozen vehicles from older
prototype models that, as part of the normal development process, were
scheduled to be crushed. Some were whole vehicles, other mere shells, missing
windows, and interior parts such as seats or instruments panel, doors and
The team emptied their engineering garage to secure spare CTS parts,
pulling components out of the trash and recycling bins to be recovered and
reconfigured. They spent the next 10 weeks or so reconfiguring the CTS to
meet the filmmakers' specs. The hero vehicles needed to be in perfect
condition for filming, but the others didn't need to be as pristine because
only small portions would be filmed and the exteriors would be crashed almost
immediately after filming began.
"Had this opportunity come three months later, our prototypes would have
been tied up in testing and the group of older vehicles would have been
scrapped," said LaCroix. "So the timing was perfect."
Building the Escalade EXT was more complicated than CTS. The EXT wouldn't
go into production until late 2001, and it hadn't entered the prototype-build
stage as CTS had, making it much more difficult to obtain vehicles and parts.
Enter David Schiavone. Schiavone, an engineer, had recently joined the
Cadillac marketing group as a product manager after spending 11 years at GM's
Milford Proving Ground. He and Escalade marketing director Susan Docherty
plunged into the project.
"When we explored the idea of participating in 'The Matrix Reloaded,' we
immediately recognized the symmetry between Cadillac and the film," said
Docherty. "The first film became a brand unto itself and recreated the genre,
attracting a young, intelligent, technically inclined audience. These
characteristics complement Cadillac's direction: breaking through the clutter,
being an innovator, doing things differently and in a very unexpected way."
From his experience, Schiavone knew there were a few Escalade and Chevy
Avalanche prototype vehicles that had finished validation, durability and
development testing and would soon be crushed and recycled. At this time, the
Escalade and Avalanche were themselves still a couple months from production.
By design, the Escalade and Escalade EXT share many interior and exterior
pieces and the Avalanche and Escalade EXT share the same frame and many
chassis parts. Schiavone knew engineers could morph the Escalade and
Avalanche, along with a few fabricated parts, to create enough Escalade EXTs
for the movie. Quickly, he worked to take possession of the vehicles and save
them from being crushed.
Next came an elaborate cut-and-paste and parts-fabrication job. The
Cadillac team bid out the build process to various independent suppliers.
Bill Deem, a former GM dealership mechanic turned vehicle-prep business
owner/camera rigger/stunt driver, had the perfect credentials for the job.
Deem leased an old warehouse in suburban Detroit and set about the task.
At its peak, he had a team of 10 working on the vehicles. But for much of the
time, he toiled alone, often logging 18-hour days, meticulously removing rear-
end parts from Escalades and replacing them with rear-end parts removed from
the Avalanches. Deem left the front of the Escalades virtually untouched.
Cadillac commissioned various suppliers to custom-fabricate sheet metal
components specific to the Escalade EXT. Schiavone worked with the
engineering team to pull ahead prototype parts previously designed for the
Escalade EXT but not yet built.
Soon, mountains of parts and scrap littered the warehouse, along with a
number of vehicle skeletons. In several weeks time, Deem and his team
recreated two hero vehicles, eight bullet-hole cars (which filmmakers would
"shoot up" with faux bullets) and two full interior bucks, or mockups, to be
used for interior camera shots.
On January 22, 2001, Cadillac shipped 14 CTS prototypes, 4 CTS interior
properties, 10 EXT prototypes and 2 EXT interior properties to Los Angeles,
where they later underwent about eight weeks of filming on a custom-built 1.5-
mile, three-lane freeway loop created specifically for the film.
GM also provided filmmakers with approximately 50 additional cars and
trucks to be used as background vehicles during the shoot. In addition,
Cadillac gave filmmakers technical information about the CTS and Escalade EXT,
including engineering specifications, math data and dimensional information
about sheet-metal components so stunt coordinators could choreograph the
technical elements of the shoot.
"We're excited about the film's debut and our role in this project," says
Docherty. "We seized a unique promotional opportunity, built vehicles under
challenging circumstances and met Warner Bros.' time goals. We can't wait to
see the CTS and EXT on the big screen."
For more behind-the-scenes information about Cadillac's role in "The
Matrix Reloaded," visit www.cadillac.com/matrix .
"The Matrix Reloaded" reunites producer Joel Silver and writer-directors
Larry and Andy Wachowski with stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-
Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving. In this second chapter of the Matrix trilogy,
freedom fighters Neo, Morpheus and Trinity continue to lead the revolt against
the Machine Army, unleashing their arsenal of extraordinary skills and
weaponry against the systematic forces of repression and exploitation. In
their quest to save the human race from extinction, they gain greater insight
into the construct of the Matrix and Neo's pivotal role in the fate of
Cadillac is a division of General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's
largest vehicle manufacturer. GM employs 349,000 people globally in its core
automotive business and subsidiaries. Founded in 1908, GM has been the global
automotive sales leader since 1931. More information on Cadillac and its
products can be found on media.gm.com/Cadillac .

SOURCE Cadillac
-0- 05/07/2003 P
/NOTE TO EDITORS: For additional media information, visit
http://media.gm.com . Cadillac in the Matrix Reloaded photo available on
media.gm.com /
/CONTACT: Kelly Cusinato of Cadillac Communications, +1-313-667-8602,
kelly.cusinato@gm.com /
/Web site: http://media.gm.com
http://www.cadillac.com/matrix /

CO: Cadillac
ST: Michigan

-0- May/07/2003 14:02 GMT