Can “Need for Speed” Boost Mustang Sales?

Douglas A. McIntyre
24/7 Wall St.

The film "Need for Speed" posted poor first weekend ticket sales of just $17.8 million, which was a disappointment given the huge public relations and marketing effort put into the release. "Need for Speed" was bested by "Mr. Peabody and Sherman," which brought in $21.2 million, and the Spartan film "300: Rise of an Empire" at $19.1 million. However, there may have been one winner based on the launch of "Need for Speed" -- the movie's real star, the Ford Mustang.

"Need for Speed" cost $66.6 million to make, according to Entertainment Weekly. From the standpoint of Walt Disney Co. (DIS), its studio, the expected blockbuster will not be a blockbuster at all. However, to help offset these costs Ford probably paid for the exposure of the Mustang. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) bragged about its role:

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  • A lifelong fan of classic action film sequences, director Scott Waugh opted to film genuine car-to-car action rather than use computer-generated images in new "Need for Speed"
  • Seven modified 2014 Ford Mustangs were built for filming and promotion of "Need for Speed" in addition to an early prototype 2015 Mustang fastback
  • Supercharged 2013 Mustang GT used as a camera car for capturing on-the-road sequences

Ford could use some help. The launch of the "all-new Mustang" to celebrate the car's 50th anniversary has gone off poorly. Only 6,410 Mustangs were sold in February, up a paltry 6.4%. This was not much better than the sales of rival GM's Chevy Camaro, which sold 6,211 units last month.

Ford has already started to offer incentives for Mustang buyers. In some markets, this includes 0% financing for 48 months and a cash bonus of $1,000. Or, alternatively, the buyer can pass on this financing and get $3,000 in "cash back." These are an unusual show of weakness for such a heavily promoted new model.

"Need for Speed" was a failure for Disney and the movie's producers. Maybe, it will do a little better for Ford.

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