Rhino Films and newly formed shingle, Storywise Productions, have acquired life-story rights from legendary drag racing rivals, Don “ The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “ The Mongoose” McEwen and partnered with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to produce a motion picture about their years revolutionizing one of the world’s most thrilling sports on and off the track.
Award-winning British commercial director Wayne Holloway will make his feature-film directing debut by telling the story of the Snake and Mongoose’s legendary rivalry, friendship, and accomplishments. Not only did the two men make drag racing history as champion drivers and owners of drag-racing teams, but they also modernized the sport in 1970 by shrewdly enticing toy giant, Mattel Inc. to make its then-new Hot Wheels line the sport’s first major corporate sponsor. When Mattel put logos on dragsters to make them 200 mph billboards for its toy line and put real-life drivers into its TV commercials, Mattel became the first non-automotive sponsor in a racing sport, and the industry’s first commercial tie-in was born. The Mattel sponsorship money and revenue from other sponsors that immediately followed, enabled Prudhomme and McEwen to produce remarkable innovations in their dragsters and funny cars and make drag racing a major sport globally.
The movie will be produced by Stephen Nemeth of Rhino Films and Robin Broidy of Storywise Productions, executive produced by Leslie Castanuela Barnes and screenwriter Alan Paradise, co-produced by Charlie Katz, Eddie Michaels and Betsy Stahl. The legends themselves, Prudhomme and McEwen, will also serve as producers. Veteran casting director Ronnie Yeskel (HOPE FLOATS, THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU’RE DEAD) is heading up the casting process. The project is the first fully financed feature from Storywise Productions, and the company has others in development that it expects to announce shortly.
Paradise is a longtime automotive industry journalist and broadcast producer who began developing the film after being commissioned by Mattel to work with Prudhomme and McEwen to write and direct a documentary celebrating the 35th anniversary of their historic partnership with Hot Wheels. Holloway joins to helm the project after an acclaimed career directing commercials and videos all over the world for major brands that include Samsung, the NFL, NASCAR, Adidas, and many others.
The filmmakers are enthused, to say the least, about bringing the story to the big screen.
“My husband has adored race cars his whole life, and I thought it would be fascinating to explore this remarkable period in drag-racing history,” said Broidy. “These guys were 20th century gladiators, and I was curious to know what drove them to be the best and how they accomplished it.”
Nemeth adds, “First and foremost, this is a terrific and historical buddy story, regardless of what world it’s set in. That the backdrop happens to be the high-octane, globally revered sport of drag racing makes it that much more exciting. I look forward to honoring Don and Tom, and the NHRA, with what we all hope will be a very special film.”
“We are going to make an awesome film about two extraordinary men who battled unflinchingly for supremacy in their sport, and yet supported each other wholeheartedly when tragedy struck,” the director, Holloway, elaborates.
Casting is currently underway, and the film is expected to draw significant promotional tie-in interest and partnership opportunities with the brands that supported Snake and Mongoose during their heyday. Additionally, the NHRA will provide archival footage of key races, which will be incorporated directly into the film.
Principal photography is expected to start by Fall 2011, with an anticipated theatrical release target date in 2012 commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Snake and Mongoose’s partnership with Mattel.
[Credit: Rhino Films]