If you have a sharp eye, you may have spotted a unique piece of New Mexico showcased in a “Big Game” advertisement.
Automaker Toyota’s Super Bowl commercial reintroducing their “Supra” car featured a futuristic sequence with the speeding across a lot of cement made to look like a pinball machine.
It turns out, that “pinball machine” was actually in a New Mexico, built on the taxiway and runway apron of the state-owned and taxpayer-funded Spaceport America.
“This has actually been the biggest commercial production that we’ve done at Spaceport America,” said Susan Raitt, director of business development for Spaceport America.
Speaking to KRQE News 13 via phone Monday, Raitt says the Spaceport has been receiving a lot of positive feedback about the advertisement. The Spaceport’s main building can be seen in the opening and closing shots of the advertisement.
“It was quite exciting for everybody on staff,” said Raitt.
While the facility was purpose-built for space flights and rocket launches, the Spaceport’s primary tenant, Virgin Galactic, is several years behind its projected start date. The company has yet to start commercial space flight operations at the Spaceport.
Spaceport officials say while about 200 vertical rocket launches have taken place at the site in recent years, there’s also a lot of time when the facility sits idle. To fill that void, the state has focused activity in recent years on hosting shoots for print and video advertisements.
“Although our main focus is aerospace, there’s room to use the facility for many other activities,” said Raitt.
Raitt says Toyota’s “Supra” advertisement was secretly filmed at the remote runway over about six days in early December. Roughly 175 people were on site filming the ad, which was directed by Marc Forster, known for movies like Monster’s Ball, World War Z, and 007: Quantum of Solace.
Raitt says a lot of the set pieces seen in the advertisement were real.
“Our taxiway was certainly lit up with those light rings that you see where the car’s racing through it,” said Raitt. “We did have pinball machine type towers set up.”
Raitt says production crews didn’t paint the markings on the ground as seen in the advertisement. Those she says were added in post-production.
Spaceport officials say the advertisement is roughly the tenth video production to be filmed at the Spaceport in recent years, however, it’s first Spaceport-set ad to air during the Super Bowl.
Raitt hopes the wide audience for this ad helps spark more potential shoots in the future.
“It certainly bodes well for getting additional inquiries for filming at Spaceport America,” said Raitt.
“We want to keep the brand prestigious, we vet whoever needs to come on site carefully to make sure whoever comes on site, that their product and vision marries well with ours,” said Raitt.
All of the money generated by the ads goes towards the operation of the Spaceport. The Spaceport declined to disclose to KRQE News 13 how much money the facility made by renting out the space for the advertisement.