In what Deadline just called a “game changer,” Netflix has landed a whale of a star. That whale being Brad Pitt.
Deadline reports that Netflix has acquired the rights to War Machine, a “satirical comedy inspired by the bestselling book The Operators: The Wild And Terrifying Inside Story Of America’s War In Afghanistan, by the late journalist Michael Hastings.” Pitt will star as Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a four-star general who led international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan before a controversial article in Rolling Stone put him out of a job.
In the RS article, Hastings did very candid profile on McChrystal, which revealed some blunt comments, including the general’s less-than-flattering remarks about those in the Obama administration, which led to his resignation.
“This will be the biggest investment Netflix will have made so far in a feature film, in the $30 million range,” reports Deadline. “It is also the first time Netflix has really gotten hold of a film with one of the biggest global A-list movie stars, in his prime, along with his producing cohorts whose recent credits include Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave and Best Picture nominee Selma.”
Pitt’s production company Plan B bought the rights to Hastings’ book last year and have been looking for the right home. And though Pitt puts butts in seats, the subject matter may have been a little too weighty for film studios. So Pitt and his business partners decided to give Netflix a try.
“Even though this is sophisticated subject matter and not the popcorn fare that studios covet, any studio or independent distributor would have salivated over releasing a movie with Brad Pitt as its star,” states Deadline. “But it is also the kind of movie that is often hard pressed to find a large theatrical audience, and P&A is exorbitant to chase that business.
“Pitt and his advisers instead decided to experiment with the idea that potentially more people would see the film through the Netflix global streaming subscriber base, while still having it eligible for Oscar consideration just like any other theatrical release.”
This is a major leap for a film star to the land of on-demand streaming. Game changer, indeed.