NEW YORK – DreamWorks Animation’s “Turbo” and the royal baby have to be the most-anticipated events of July, and excitement surrounding the former was evident during its U.S. premiere in Manhattan.
IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, stars who voice the characters, the production team and guests shared the red carpet (actually, it was black) with oversized snails before the screening at the Loew’s Columbus Square Theater.
The 3D adventure film distributed by 20th Century Fox features Snoop Dogg, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Pena, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader and Ryan Reynolds as the main character Theo -- a common San Fernando Valley garden snail with dreams of winning the Indianapolis 500.
It opens in theaters July 17. The Canadian premiere is July 11 at the outset of the Honda Indy Toronto race weekend.
Click it: Get your 'Turbo' gear || Interview with director Soren || Interview with the voice of Tito
“He has a lot of people in his life that tell him that dream will never come true, and then one day it does,” Reynolds said. “I remember when I was pitched the film, (DreamWorks Animation CEO) Jeffrey Katzenberg came to me and said, ‘I have this story about a guy who has an impossible dream. His dream is to win the Indy 500.’ I said, ‘Well, what’s impossible about that?’ and he said, ‘He’s a snail.’ I was in right away.
“I just fell in love with the idea of that classic underdog story, but this sort of took it to a whole new level. The movie felt like ‘Rocky’ to me. It just happens to star a snail.”
Reynolds was director David Soren’s first choice for the voice of the Don Quixote-like character.
“We found the perfect match in voice and in persona in Ryan,” Soren said.
Snoop Dogg, who voices the character of racing snail Smoove Move and also wrote and performed the original song “Let the Bass Go” for the movie, also was grabbed by the underdog theme.
“A feel-good family movie about big dreams and never giving up,” the rapper said.
The voice talents of three-time Indianapolis 500 and four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, Team Penske’s Will Power and Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti have surprise cameos (you’ll have to pay attention). Paul Page was cast as (what else?) a broadcaster. Franchitti also was a technical consultant.
“I think it will be very entertaining for kids of all ages and huge for INDYCAR,” Franchitti said. “I was very excited to get asked to do it. This is a good way to make sure I’m happy with the end result and hopefully everybody else is, too. With the guys at DreamWorks I knew we were in good hands.”
Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves was the correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight," being on both ends of interviews. Recently-crowned 500 Mile Race winner Tony Kanaan was joined by Will Power, Ana Beatriz and Ryan Hunter-Reay (with son Ryden nearby) in walking the interview gauntlet of every outlet from Telemundo to "Extra."
Castroneves' segment airs July 10.
"Fabulous," Power said following the screening. "People were clapping at certain scenes. I was, too."
Earlier in the day, drivers joined Reynolds and the cast of "Today" at NBC for a skeeball contest to make plastic snails move up the side of Studio 1A. Kanaan presented Reynolds a replica of the Indy 500 winner's wreath. They also conducted interviews at Sports Illustrated and The New York Times to name a few.
"Of course 'Turbo' won," Reynolds told co-host Matt Lauer, "he's the fastest snail ever."