Michael Mann looks back on 30 years of Ferrari manufacturing

Michael Mann looks back on 30 years of Ferrari manufacturing

The director pays particular tribute to screenwriter Troy Kennedy-Martin, who passed away in 2019. Just before this film, which had almost been made with Christian Bale, could come to fruition.

On August 24, 2023, Michael Mann was on the cover of the new issue of Varietya few days before presenting his new film, Ferrari, at the Venice Film Festival. This one has just arrived on Prime Video, so we can't resist the urge to (re)read behind the scenes of its production.

The filmmaker invited a journalist from Hollywood magazine to his home to talk about the long gestation of this film, presented as a “old-school melodrama” about Enzo Ferrari, the racing driver turned successful business leader. This one is played by Adam Driver, opposite Penelope Cruz as his wife and Shailene Woodley as his mistress. The plot will take place mainly in Modena, in 1957, the year in which Laura Ferrari discovered that her husband had a double life, and a hidden daughter. In debt, struggling to grieve for his son, seeing his drivers die on the tracks, Enzo sets off with his team on a tour of Italy, the Mille Miglia, which will turn his life upside down.

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While wandering through Michael Mann's office, reporter Stephen Rodrick discovers a photo of the director from the early 1990s alongside a Ferrari, in Italy, so Mann discusses its long production in detail. “It’s me, in 1993”, he comments, thus confirming that he had the idea for this film for three decades. Even more, the journalist then writes, since in 1967, while he was a film student, Mann says he had a vision of a Ferrari while leaving the London Underground, which has obsessed him ever since.

From the age of 24, the idea of ​​developing a film on Enzo Ferrari germinated in his mind, but he waited for the publication of Brock Yates entitled Enzo Ferrari: Man and Machinein 1991, to truly delve into his life.

The first draft of the screenplay by Troy Kennedy-Martin (the author of Gold is disappearing, disappeared in 2009) dates from this period. Mann says that they both loved this work, which covers both the career and the intimate life of this man. Marked by this story, the director of Sixth Sense and Last of the Mohicans therefore wanted to make a film from it. A “opera”even, as his biopic is thought of as a total work.

Realizing that the American public was more interested in NASCAR than in Formula 1, he refined this adaptation by letting a few years pass while working on other films in parallel, such as Revelations (1999), Ali (2001) or Collateral (2004).

The popularity of this motor sport is growing more and more, Ferrari almost became a reality in 2015 with Christian Bale in the title role. Unable to shoot it at that time due to budget problems and involvement of the actor (who had started to lose weight for this role then was finally hired on other projects), Mann then was a consultant and co-executive producer of Le Mans 66 (2019), another film about this same motorsport figure directed by James Mangold. Ironically, in this story, Christian Bale is on display, but in the shoes of another pilot: Ken Miles.

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After the flop of Hacker, in 2015 at the cinema, Michael Mann was finally able to release enough funds in 2021 to shoot Ferrariexactly 30 years after discovering the book. “This Troy script, I've modified it quite a bit over time, but the starting point is definitely what he wrote, he explains. The beating heart of this film is due to Troy's work.“The filmmaker wanted to pay tribute to him during this period of crisis in Hollywood. “The majority of screenwriters are poorly paid in Hollywood, he comments about the strike which has been taking place since May. Even those who work on hit films. It all starts from there (he takes out a white sheet of paper) : we start with nothing, absolutely nothing.”

Mann says he is proud to have been able to film Ferrari without the help of big Hollywood studios. His project was expensive, since it required a significant historical reconstruction, and he managed to raise funds and take advantage of tax credits in Italy to film it during the summer of 2022 with the support of Neon, a film company. independent production. “The origins of this film, the content of its script and the end result that you saw… all of this does not fit the types of films that are made by the usual studio system, he considers. It really makes more sense that it's an independent film distributed by Neon, which is an independent company in nature.” Please note that this distributor is only responsible for the distribution of the film in English-speaking countries: in France, Ferrari will not be broadcast in cinemas but on Prime Video.

Regarding the rise of streaming services, Mann commented in October 2022 in First : Ferrari took time to put together because I was looking for the best partners, those who would help develop my work and not modify it… The money is now held by the platforms. Two options are therefore available to a filmmaker: make a film for the big screen or the small one. It's a simple question of scale. Marty (Scorsese)David (Fincher) and I are deeply attached to the cinema. However, the way the public discovers a film has changed. Ferrari is certainly designed for the room, but I know that many will discover it later on a platform. It will not necessarily be the same type of spectators. You have to adapt.”

Throughout this same article, Variety writes that the launch of Heat 2another film project that Michael Mann has been developing for around thirty years, will undoubtedly depend on the success of Ferrari at the box office.

Following its presentation at the Mostra, the film was released at Christmas in the United States and in a few other countries, where it collected a little more than 40 million dollars. In France, it has been broadcast since Friday March 8 on Prime Video.

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