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The Incredible Knight Rider
Film information

Directed by

Danny Cannon

Produced by

Kevin Feige
David Andron
Allan Kroeker
Bryan Spicer

Written by

David Andron

Based on

Knight Rider
by Glen A. Larson

Starring

William Petersen
David Hasselhoff
Justin Bruening
Taylor Cole
James Earl Jones
Alicia Leigh Willis
Bruce Davison
Paul Campbell
Smith Cho
Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Yancey Arias

Music by

Henry Jackmen

Cinematography

Jamie Barber
Kris Krosskove

Studio

Marvel Studios

Distributed by

Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date(s)

January 16, 2009 (Tokyo Premiere)
January 23, 2009 (Worldwide)

Running time

125 minutes[1]

Language

English

Budget

$135 million[2]

Box office

$456 million[3]

The Incredible Knight Rider is a 2009 American superhero film directed by Danny Cannon, produced by Dave Andron and written by David Andron. It is based on the 1982 TV series of the same title created by Glen A. Larson, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is the fifth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film stars William Petersen as the voice of KITT, an advanced artificially intelligent, self-aware and nearly indestructible car, and David Hasselhoff, reprising his role as Michael Knight, a high-tech modern crime fighter assisted by KITT. The film also stars Justin Bruening, Taylor Cole, and James Earl Jones. The film tells the story of Michael Knight and his estranged son as they work with KITT to stop a nuclear strike from Hydra until KAAR, a dangerous more advanced robotic version of KITT, emerges.

Development of the film began in 2002, when Revolution Studios announced a partnership with Mayhem Pictures to create a film adaptation of the television series. The film was re-designed to be similar to Revolution's previous project, XXX. Series creator Glen A. Larson was hired to write the first script draft, with the series' lead actor David Hasselhoff attached to advise the project and also have an onscreen role. In April 2003, Revolution Studios hired screenwriters David Elliott and Paul Lovett to pen the film's script. Stuart Beattie joined the project later on. In 2004, Marvel Studios brought the rights to the Knight Rider franchise. During pre-production, the main characters were cast in 2006. Using Red Digital Cinema Camera Company's RED Epic camera, principal photography started in April 2008 in Los Angeles before moving to New York City. The film entered post-production in September 2008. 3ality Technica provided 3D image processing, and Sony Pictures Imageworks handled CGI.

The Incredible Knight Rider premiered on January 16, 2009 in Tokyo, and was released in the United States on January 23. The film was critically acclaimed by critics, praising mostly David Hasselhoff's reprisal of Michael Knight, Justin Bruening and Taylor Cole's performances, the visual style, Henry Jackman's score, the superhero take on the Knight Rider franchise, the superhero portrayal of the KITT character, and William Petersen and James Earl Jones' voice portrayals of KITT and KAAR. The film was a box office success, grossing over $456 million worldwide.

Plot

At night, several power company technicians answer a call at Charles Graiman's home. He is suspicious, as he did not expect them until the next morning. They threaten his daughter if he does not co-operate and Graiman suffers a fatal heart attack. Searching his home for hard drives containing the information they are after (for a defense project named Prometheus), they stumble across a parked Chevrolet Corvette ZO6 in the garage that they unsuccessfully try to stop.

Mike Traceur (Justin Bruening), a 23-year-old ex-Army Ranger, is awakened by his friend Dylan Fass to deal with "Mike's investors" who are attempting to collect a $90,000 gambling debt. Traceur's Shelby Cobra breaks down when he attempts to flee, and the men threaten Fass's life if Traceur does not pay the debt.

After an early morning surf, FBI special agent Carrie Rivai (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) receives a call that Graiman, her longtime friend, is dead and leaves her date, a man she met the night before, to investigate.

Sarah Graiman (Taylor Cole), a 24-year-old Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University, lectures a class on nanotechnology. After the lecture, she receives a phone call from KITT (William Petersen) warning her about the men planning to abduct her. Sarah's pursuers catch her, but she is rescued by KITT. Sarah and KITT track down Traceur, who turns out to be her childhood friend, and whom she was involved with has not seen since he left home at 18. They find him at the Montecito Casino, playing poker to repay his debt. He is resistant when Sarah asks for help, but agrees when she offers to pay his debt. The two set out to find out what happened to Graiman and discover who is after them.

In Yucaipa, California, Stu Pickles is interrupted by Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D., who obtains his latest invention, the "counter-shut-down", a device capable of shutting down anything's "molecular bonded shell" which allows it to endure extreme impacts. U.S. Army Colonel Danis Caan (William Fichtner) receives the news about KITT and declares him, along with Mike and Sarah as wanted fugitives.

Rivai arrives at Graiman's home and is asked by the local sheriff (Chris Mulkey) to identify the body. She discovers it is not Charles Graiman; the real Graiman (Davison) escaped through the woods and left a body double behind. Graiman makes his way to the home of Traceur's mother, Jennifer (Susan Gibney). The two leave for a local motel.

The men chasing them are mercenaries for Black River, a security contractor. They are after Prometheus, a system that controls the entire United States defense network. Information needed to control the system is contained on Graiman's hard drives in the mercenaries' possession, but is encrypted; only Graiman and Sarah know the encryption keys. KITT also possesses the data and can access the system.

Graiman contacts Sarah and asks her to meet him at the motel. He advises Sarah to contact Rivai for help. When she does so, Rivai puts her phone in speaker-mode so the sheriff can hear the location, unaware that the sheriff is working with the mercenaries.

KITT, Sarah, and Traceur find that the mercenaries have reached the motel, but have not found Graiman, as he checked into four different rooms. Using KITT's infrared sensors, Traceur finds Graiman with his mother and rescues them. Jennifer and Graiman reveal that Traceur's father was a man named Michael Knight and that he drove the first KITT, forcing him to stay away from his family. Traceur is absorbing this information when they reach KITT and find one of the mercenaries hacking into his system. Graiman asks KITT to shut down to prevent further infiltration and suggests Traceur drive the car manually.

As the group is leaving, the mercenaries find them. They shoot and kill Jennifer. Graiman is taken away and the other two are left to kill Traceur and Rivai as well as watch over Sarah and KITT. Just as they are about to be killed by the mercenaries, Traceur and Rivai overpower their capturers. Traceur and Sarah take KITT to chase after Graiman while Rivai stays with Jennifer's body.

Traceur and Sarah discover KITT's vulnerability to damage, due to the loss of his self-repair capabilities while his system is deactivated. After exchanging fire, Traceur reactivates KITT with just enough time to activate his armor without allowing the mercenaries to hack into him, and turns KITT directly into the mercenaries' path, causing a collision. KITT survives with no damage, while the mercenaries' SUV is heavily damaged. Graiman survives while his captors are mortally wounded or dead, but they are soon captured and detained by the Army.

As they arrive in New York City, in a science lab, KAAR, an advanced artificially intelligent car that resembles KITT but evilly dangerous, comes online and attacks most of the scientists and soldiers. Realizing that he is the only one who can stop KAAR, KITT convinces Caan to release him. After a long and brutal battle through Harlem, KITT defeats KAAR. After having a small, peaceful moment with Michael, KITT flees from New York.

At Jennifer's funeral, Michael tells Traceur what Wilton Knight once told him on his death-bed — that one man can make a difference - and that he (Knight) was that man. They shake hands and as Knight prepares to leave, Traceur asks if they will ever meet again. Knight responds back to his son, "I hope so."

In a final scene, at a debriefing, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury informs Tony Stark that because of Stark's difficult personality, S.H.I.E.L.D. intends to use him only as a consultant. Later, Stark approaches Caan at a local bar and informs him a team is being put together.

Cast

An advanced artificially intelligent car. The filmmakers added many new features in KITT As an homage to the original KITT's Super Pursuit Mode, the new KITT transforms into Attack Mode - a significantly more aggressive version than the Attack Mode depicted in the movie, which consisted primarily of an extended rear spoiler.
an undercover Los Angeles police detective who, while on a case in Las Vegas, is shot in the face and nearly killed. Wilton Knight, founder of Knight Industries and creator of FLAG, directs his doctors to save Long's life and reconstruct his face.
The son of the original Michael Knight. The producers' first choice for the role was actor Ben Affleck.[4]
The daughter of Charles Graiman and romantic interest of Mike Long.
a human mutate with the ability to communicate with squirrels is surprisingly effective and has allowed her to defeat major supervillains.
  • James Earl Jones as KARR
An evil artificially intelligent automobile.
  • Bruce Davison as Charles Graiman
An inventor and KITT's creator.
  • William Fichtner as U.S. Army Colonel Danis Caan
  • Paul Campbell as Billy Morgan
  • Smith Cho as Zoe Chae
  • Sydney Tamiia Poitier as FBI Agent Carrie Rivai
  • Yancey Arias as NSA Agent Alex Torres
  • E. G. Daily as Tommy Pickles
  • Tara Charendoff as Dil Pickles
  • Christine Cavanaugh as Chuckie Finster
  • Kath Soucie as Phil and Lil DeVille
  • Cheryl Chase as Angelica Pickles
  • Joe Alaskey as Grandpa Lou
  • Michael Bell as Drew Pickles, Chas Finster and Grandpa Boris
  • Melanie Chartoff as Didi Pickles and Grandma Minka
  • Tress MacNeille as Charlotte Pickles
  • Phil Proctor as Howard DeVille
  • Jack Riley as Stu Pickles
  • Kath Soucie as Betty DeVille
  • Cree Summer as Susie Carmichael
  • Dionne Quan as Kimi Watanabe
  • Julia Kato as Kira Watanabe-Finste

Robert Downey, Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson have an uncredited cameo as Tony Stark and Nick Fury at the end of the film. Downey appeared as a favor to Marvel Studios, which he acknowledged as a smart move on Marvel's part, because when he was promoting his film he would also have to mention their other production.

Production

Development

In March 2002, Revolution Studios announced a partnership with Mayhem Pictures to create a film adaptation of the television series. The film would be re-designed to be similar to Revolution's previous project, XXX. Series creator Glen A. Larson was hired to write the first script draft, with the series' lead actor David Hasselhoff attached to advise the project and also have an onscreen role.[5] In April 2003, Revolution Studios hired screenwriters David Elliott and Paul Lovett to pen the film's script.[6] In April 2004, the premise of the film was described as having Hasselhoff reprise his role as Michael Knight, now the mentor to the protagonist as Devon Miles mentored Knight in the television series. The protagonist would be Knight's son, inheriting his father's role and driving the vehicle KITT. Supervising producer David Andron wrote the script under executive producers Doug Liman and Dave Bartis.

Pre-production

In March 2005, Marvel Studios acquired the rights to the franchise and worked to start development from scratch. Danny Cannon, who is known for directing television series episodes, was hired to direct the film. Cannon saw it as an opportunity to explore the world of Marvel Comics, "even though the Knight Rider franchise wasn't made by Marvel". In April 2007, Stuart Beattie, David Elliott, and Paul Lovett were hired to help write the script. In Lovett's storyline, it would have been a retelling of the original Knight Rider series on Michael Knight's recruitment. Elliott and Beattie didn't like where the story was heading, and Lovett quickly agreed. Elliott created a new draft that focused on KITT as the main character, making him a superhero rather than just an artificial intelligent vehicle.

Filming

Filming began on April 19, 2008. Several scenes use the fictional Montecito Resort and Casino, from NBC's series Las Vegas. Similar to Iron Man, Production was based in the former Hughes Company soundstages in Playa Vista, Los Angeles, California.

Release

The Incredible Knight Rider premiered in Tokyo on January 16, 2009, and went into the public on January 23. The film is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence.[7]

Marketing

A 30-second spot for the film aired during a Super Bowl XLII break.[8] 6,400 7-Eleven stores in the United States helped promote the film, and LG Group made a deal with Warner Bros.[9]

CKE Restaurants, parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, helped sponsor the film. Chief marketing officer Brad Haley said they would market a new burger as part of the promotion.[10] The burger was dubbed "The Incredible Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger". It was promoted through film-themed commercials and radio ads featuring David Hasselhoff. Knight Rider-themed premiums were offered as part of the Cool Kid's Combo.[11]

Big Cola was reported to enter a deal for promoting the film.[12][13] The Kellogg Company and the Keebler Company built marketing campaigns around clips from the film.[14]

Home media

The Incredible Knight Rider was released to DVD and Blu-ray in the United States and Canada on June 24, 2009 and on July 14, 2009 in the United Kingdom. The home release for both the DVD and Blu-ray format only contain the 2D version of the movie.

The film was also collected in a 10-disc box set titled "Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One – Avengers Assembled" which includes all of the Phase One films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[15] It was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on April 2, 2013.[16]

Reception

Box office

The Incredible Knight Rider earned $251.6 million in North America and $205.3 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $456.9 million. It is the 11th highest grossing film of 2009.

North America

In it's opening weekend, the film grossed $86.4 million in 3,571 theaters in the United States and Canada, debuting at No. 1 at the box office. The film by comparison, dropped 50% in its second weekend. This surpassed industry expectations of a $31 million opening.

Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 91% approval rating with an average rating of 8.3/10 based on 227 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "The Incredible Knight Rider may not be quite the smashing success that fans of NBC's former artificial intelligent car might hope for, but it offers more than enough vehicular action to make up for its occasionally puny narrative." Metacritic gave the film an average score of 81 out of 100, based on 38 reviews. The site characterized reviews as "generally favorable". A CinemaScore poll indicated the majority of viewers were male and graded the film an A-.

Fan reaction

According to the Associated Press, The Incredible Knight Rider received a "respectful" but "far from glowing" reception from Knight Rider fans, and that "some viewers at its first press screening loved it, some called it slick and enjoyable though formulaic, some said it was not worth the wait."[17]

Accolades

Future

References

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