James Mangold reveals reason for 'Le Mans 66' title change (exclusive)

Tom Beasley

Director James Mangold has revealed why his motor racing biopic Ford v Ferrari became Le Mans ‘66 in the UK.

The Logan filmmaker’s story of the company vs. company battle leading up to the 1960s 24-hour race is known by different titles on either side of the Atlantic.

Speculation about the title change has been rife, but the 55-year-old said it is perfectly normal for his movies to be known by various names in different parts of the world.

“As I understand it, there's just some kind of issue of some sort with using trademarks in titles in the UK,” Mangold told Yahoo Movies UK. “So it just became not as viable an answer.”

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He added: “I also think some European territories felt that Le Mans would be a more identifiable thing in Europe than it is in the US where, unfortunately, I think only one out of every 10 people would know what Le Mans is.”

Christian Bale and Matt Damon star in motor racing biopic 'Le Mans 66'. (Credit: Fox)

Mangold’s film follows Matt Damon as automotive designer Carroll Shelby, who is approached by Ford to craft a vehicle capable of beating the dominant Ferrari on the track at Le Mans.

Shelby agrees and hires his long-time buddy Ken Miles — a Brummie driver played by Christian Bale — to get behind the wheel of the newly developed car.

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The film’s centrepieces are its thrilling sequences on the track, including during the dramatic day of racing in 1966 that provides the movie with its title.

Christian Bale gets behind the wheel as Ken Miles in 'Le Mans 66'. (Credit: Fox)

“I have never been that into motorsports and part of the reason, I think, is that whenever I watch them on the television, they seem so static,” said Mangold.

“It just seems like these small things going around in a circle with guys talking about who's ahead and who's behind and who's catching up. It doesn't seem very dynamic.”

Mangold said that his intention was to “put you behind the steering wheel” during the scenes on the track.

Matt Damon, James Mangold and Christian Bale attend the "Le Mans 66" Premiere, 2019 in Paris, France. (Dominique Charriau/WireImage)

He added: “What we're denied when we watch television is the point of view of the driver. We're denied the emotions, the feeling of exhaustion, the tactics. Why are they passing now? Why have they been laying back?

“My effort was to put you right in the trenches, as it were, and on the track, in the cockpit, so you were seeing the race almost completely as a driver might.”

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The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in August and has since made several appearances on the circuit, including at the London Film Festival in October.

It has proved to be a hit with film critics, gaining a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Le Mans ‘66 is in UK cinemas on 15 November.