Pixar "Cars" Drives Interest in Historic Route 66

Share Article

Pixar's newest animated film "Cars" opened at almost 4,000 theaters last weekend. Set in large part on historic Route 66, the film is already having an impact on the many businesses that have struggled for years to keep the story of America's most famous highway alive.

Route 66: Return to the Road

Pixar's newest animated offering, "Cars" opened at almost 4,000 theaters last weekend and is predicted to be the summer's first blockbuster. In addition, the $70 million dollar offering from Disney appears to have sparked an interest in American history in much the same way "A Bug's Life" stimulated children's curiosity about insects.

"We've seen a big jump in interest in our Route 66 films, even before the film opened," said Jim Jenner whose Montana-based film company [http://www.66films.com offers four documentaries on the famous highway. "The cartoon could be the biggest thing to happen to the historic highway in many years. It's great."

"Cars" tells the story of a NASCAR race car that accidently gets off the interstate and into "Radiator Springs", a Route 66 town that suffered when the freeway replaced what John Stienbeck called the "Mother Road", the famous two lane highway that ran from Chicago to Santa Monica.

In creating the new film Pixar went to great pains to understand the history and texture of Route 66, beginning more than six years ago by enlisting Route 66's best known expert, author Michael Wallis, whose "Route 66: The Mother Road" is credited with stimulating the rebirth of the highway when it was published in 1990.

Wallis, who is also featured in Jenner's documentaries, spent months on the highway with Pixar's team and ultimately was asked to be the voice of the Sheriff in the new film.

"I've worked with a lot of creative people in my career" said Wallis from his home in Tulsa, OK, "But I've never met any group that matches the wonderful group Pixar assembled for this film. They managed to perfectly capture the essence of Highway 66 and I believe many thousands of people will now want to know more about its history and explore the highway on their own."

According to Jenner, the Pixar film will likely have far reaching effects on the businesses and museums along the old highway and those companies, like his, that work to keep the story of the road alive.

"It may be a cartoon, but Pixar has done a terrific job in helping people understand that this wonderful two-lane road represents a different era, and a different pace, than today's boring interstate highways." said Jenner, "It's bound to increase visitors for the businesses that fight to stay open out there. For us it means that millions of people will realize what a compelling story the preservation of historic Route 66 really is. They are sure to seek out books and documentary films that tell the whole story," said Jenner

Among his award-winning documentaries Jenner expects to do well are "Route 66: An American Odyssey" which chronicled the history of Route 66 as told by Wallis and songwriter Bobby Troupe, who penned "Get Your Kicks on Route 66", first recorded by Nat King Cole and subsequently by over a hundred other artists, and now featured in "Cars".

Another documentary he expects to benefit is "Route 66: Return to the Road", which appeared on PBS and featured actor Martin Milner, who starred in the 1960's TV-Series named after the highway. "Return to the Road" was heralded as "glorious" by MOTORTREND magazine and documented Milner, in a 1961 Corvette, revisiting the highway some thirty years after his TV show first brought it fame. Both films were Directed by John Paget.

"It's more than a funny and heartwarming story about the "Mother Road", said Jenner " 'Cars' could prove to be the mother lode for all the people who have struggled for years to help the public appreciate what a unique part of American history Route 66 represents."


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Jim Jenner
Visit website