Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed to Motor Sport that he is in talks with a movie studio about a big-screen film following the sport from its beginnings to the present day. “We’ve been talking to them for a long time about doing a film from the old days all the way through,” said Ecclestone.
He says the film will be in the style of a documentary but that, “it will not effectively be a documentary”, and he stresses that it will be for “the big screen”.
F1 has had a chequered past with films. Probably the most famous Hollywood adaptation of the sport was Grand Prix, the 1966 film starring James Garner with cameo appearances from the top drivers of the day including Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill. Since then, the quality of F1’s outings on the silver screen has slipped into reverse.
In 1977, the acclaimed director Sydney Pollack turned his attention to the sport and the result was Bobby Deerfield, a film about an emotionally distant driver. It had all the assets of a potential classic, with Pollack at the helm, Al Pacino in the lead role and Brabham providing Carlos Pace’s car for the race scenes. However, as Ecclestone says, it failed, “because the American producers got hold of it. They wanted to turn it into a love story.”
More recently, renowned racing fan Sylvester Stallone tried to get an F1 movie off the ground in the late 1990s. A full script was drawn up for the movie, which was centred around Ayrton Senna, but it soon hit the buffers. Reportedly the FIA wanted to check the script to ensure F1 wouldn’t be portrayed in a sensational plot that was detrimental to its image. The final nail in the coffin was believed to be a dispute over the fee charged by F1. Stallone turned his attention to CART and instead made the lamentable 2001 movie Driven.
Ecclestone remained in touch with Stallone but confirmed that the actor is not involved with the latest project. “I haven’t spoken to him lately,” he said.