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Cars and Stars - BMW i8 in Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol +VIDEO

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By Marty Bernstein
Senior Editor-at-large
The Auto Channel

Last Friday night, along with thousands of other invitees, I watched a special sneak preview of the new Tom Cruise action movie, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, in one of the 300 theaters. Thousands more set an attendance and ticket sales record when the same movie was premiered only in 425 Imax theaters around the country. And that was before the flick’s rave reviews were published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and on NPR and lots of other media outlets.

As we all know automobile manufacturers have long made the pilgrimage to tinsel town to get product placement of their logoed vehicles in thriller, chase, spy, intrigue, travel and comical movies. Often the cars or trucks are just – in Hollywood parlance – extras or character actors. They don’t play an integral role in plot development. But there are the movies in which the cars help move the plot line forward and have an important role.

Watch the BMW Efficient Dynamics Concept promo video

But since they’re not the movies stars – no agents, managers, or pr people -- you won’t find ‘em listed in the opening credits above the title or even in the below the title line as ‘also starring or featuring‘ roles. Even when all the below-the-line people and services crawl goes up as audiences walk out of the movie there maybe, just maybe, a thank you credit line. Is there no justice?

But well planned and placed vehicles in the right genre do add to the entertainment value of the movie. And when the brand undertakes a very good promotional, publicity and social media program along with their dealers, the buzz value alone is terrific. So for this reason I nominate the BMW brand as the next logo in cement or asphalt on the pot-holed Hollywood Drive of Fame. There it joins other auto-movie-stars including Aston Martin, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Range Rover, Corvette and others.

There were four Bimmer's in the 4th generation Mission Impossible. The George Clooney-esk star of MIGP was the handsome, smart Efficient Dynamics concept vehicle now known as i8 (like a Prince name change, right?) It played a vital role as Tom Cruise in his role as Ethan Hawk (what happened to Mr. Phelps?) joined by the official presenter of BMW at the LA Show, Paula Patton in her role as Jane Carter --the lusty and busty passenger – behind the wheel (hopefully not a JLo sub) drove the sleek car in a hard driving, careening, dodging, veering, traffic filled and jammed streets of night time Mumbai, India. It reminded me of the 1971 Red Mustang in an early James Bond movie as it drove at night through a nascent Las Vegas but arrived at its destination without a dent, ding or scratch.

Watch the BMW i8 and i3 promo video

The 6-Series convertible was a terrific performer as it drove through the blinding sandstorm in Dubai avoiding people, other cars, souks and other obstacles with numerous fender benders in a eerie chase scene with a supernatural look but then died in a fatal crash. The scene stealer was the 1-series coupe in a tour-de-force in a thrilling chase scene in a ultra modern round garage in the fabled Indian city. Whether it was real or CGI who cares?! This sequence had all the force, drama and dynamic force of the French Connection Pontiac Le Mans only better and deserves the best supporting car award at the next Oscars event. The X-3, however was barely seen.

Adding to the presence of BMW vehicles featured in the film, the company has launched a Mission: Impossible-themed marketing campaign dubbed "Mission to Drive." The national program includes a branded advertising campaign in broadcast, print, online and in-dealer activations which the media release described a limited time "self-destructing" sales offer running now through January 2. There was also a social media program on FaceBook and there’s a ‘partners link’ to BMW on the home page of the movie A consumer contest awarded an an all-expense paid trip to the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol U.S. premiere tonight in New York City.

Bottom line? BMW got the bang for their buck, didn’t they?