It’s been 15 years since Lexus introduced us to its 2054 concept car in the futuristic film Minority Report. Now the automaker is back in Hollywood sci-fi with the “Skyjet,” its futuristic pursuit aircraft that stars in the upcoming 2017 tentpole film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
The Skyjet looks like no Lexus out there—though fans may find some familiar design features in the flying Lexus’ grille and headlights that echo those in current automobile models. Lexus announced the Valerian role in a major brand event held in Miami and the film’s co-star, Dane DeHaan, talked up the Skyjet for attendees.
Lexus says the model is “grounded in reality” despite being made for a future 700 years from now. It will also be at the center of the brand’s fan engagement plans over the next half year until the premier of the film. The Skyjet was not the only non-automobile at the Lexus showcase, described as a “daring experiential lifestyle media event.”
Lexus also debuted the surprise Sport Yacht concept, boasting the same V8 engine as the automaker’s sports coupe. The event, including a photo session at the “Lexus Mansion,” set the tone for Lexus as a lifestyle brand—something that has largely eluded it even when compared with competitors like BMW and Audi.
Lexus’ involvement with the Luc Besson sci-fi film was announced a few months ago after the brand’s Skyjet made a brief cameo in the film’s official trailer. Besson said that Lexus complemented the film’s “pioneering innovation” as a quality that made it an attractive partner.
Though there has been a lull for the brand since 2002, Lexus was an early pioneer of providing futuristic concept cars for sci-fi films. The Lexus 2054, introduced in the blockbuster Minority Report, rewrote the script for what it meant to be an automaker in Hollywood sci-fi. Up until then, auto brands had been present in such films—Ford Taurus in Robocop; Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me; GM in Demolition Man—but none had capitalized as fully as Lexus did. The automaker named and created an online presence for the concept car and used it, a fictional future car, to inform the then-present day Lexus brand. Groundbreaking at the time, it’s a strategy that numerous other brands jumped to replicate.
In 2004, I, Robot gave the world Audi’s sleek futuristic model. The car never came to pass but Audi has since skyrocketed to respectable performance and status symbol. And it hasn’t given up; 10 years after I, Robot, Audi was still making futuristic cars for the film Ender’s Game.
In 2013, Director Neil Blomkamp was outspoken about his pleasure with the Bugatti brand and how it’s futuristic model fit in his sci-fi thriller Elysium. For the 2012 remake of the sci-fi classic Total Recall, Dodge gave a glimpse at what its current Charger might look like in flight.
Meanwhile, Lexus’ Skyjet may be the latest—but it is surely not the last of this trend.