The talent behind the upcoming 50 to 1 movie is democratizing their film premiere, swapping the red carpet for a tour bus.
On Monday and Tuesday, the bus, full of the film’s stars, arrives in Oklahoma City in support of the film’s nationwide release.
Based on the true story of unlikely Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, 50 to 1 is a family-friendly comedy from director and producer Jim Wilson (Dances with Wolves, The Bodyguard).
Mine that Bird is an American thoroughbred racehorse that, after an extensive losing streak, unpredictably won the 2009 Kentucky Derby, creating the perfect underdog narrative.
Wilson and co-writer Faith Conroy talked to Oklahoma Gazette about the bus tour and inspiration behind the production.
“I was actually sitting at home in Calabasas (Calif.) watching the Kentucky Derby unfold,” Wilson said. “It was one of the most visually stunning races I had ever seen. Faith and I decided to go meet Mine That Bird’s owner and trainer in New Mexico to see if there’s more to this story than what we saw on TV.”
Wilson said the team behind Mine That Bird, including trainer Chip Woolley and owners Leonard “Doc” Blach and Mark Allen, affirmed their cinematic endeavor.
“They turned out to be really colorful characters, ” Wilson said. “These are hard-living, really fun-loving guys. Mark and Chip actually met in a bar fight.”
50 to 1 stars Skeet Ulrich as Woolley, as well as Oklahoma native Christian Kane, William Devane, Madelyn Deutch and Todd Lowe. Fans can look forward to interacting with the actors when the tour hits OKC next week.
For Wilson and Conroy, authenticity was a major focus in writing, producing and promoting the film.
“I can’t think of another horse racing movie or underdog story that has such grit to it,” Wilson said. “We spent a year with them in New Mexico, learning their story, and the movie really reflects that.”
The bus tour began in New Mexico and will trace the original trek to the competition in 2009.
As seasoned filmmakers, Wilson and Conroy explain why a red carpet premiere doesn’t fit the bill for 50 to 1.
“Faith and I have made a lot of movies together, and we’re accustomed to the typical L.A. scene — you walk the red carpet and then basically wash your hands of it all,” Wilson said. “We didn’t want 50 to 1 to be like that.”
The down-to-earth approach is working, according to Conroy and Wilson.
“People are genuinely excited to see the cast in person,” Wilson said. “And we get to see their reactions as they screen the film.”
“The support has been overwhelming,” Conroy added. “It’s been a true grassroots effort, and all of our hard work is now paying off.”
The 50 to 1 tour will be in OKC Monday and Tuesday with a “possible public appearance” at Cinemark Tinseltown 20, 6001 N. Martin Luther King Ave., according to the film’s website.