Netflix has just landed its biggest original film yet. The streaming service has reportedly acquired distribution rights to War Machine, a satirical comedy starring Brad Pitt as a famous four-star U.S. military general.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie is inspired by Michael Hasting’s 2012 bestselling book The Operators: The Wild And Terrifying Inside Story Of America’s War In Afghanistan. Pitt’s character is patterned after General Stanley McChrystal, who was the commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The movie will offer a behind-the-scenes portrait of the nation’s military commanders, their high-stakes maneuvers and the ensuing political firestorm that shook the US when he was forced to resign. Though it was originally envisioned as a drama, the project will now reportedly be tonally similar to that of the 1997 black comedy, Wag the Dog.
David Michod, who made his feature film debut five years ago with 2010’s Animal Kingdom, penned the screenplay and is also on board to helm the satire. Pitt, who first optioned Hastings’ book back in 2013, will produce via his Plan B banner along with Netflix.
The project marks a big get for Netflix, who has reportedly been in talks with Pitt and his reps about the film for several weeks now. Per Deadline, this will be the biggest investment that the company has made so far in a feature films, with the deal reportedly in the $30 million range. It’s not hard to see why they’re willing to bet so big. War Machine will mark the first Netflix-exclusive film to feature a huge, internationally recognized and critically acclaimed movie star like Pitt. Not to mention, Pitt’s production company has been associated with several acclaimed projects as of late, including the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave and this year’s Best Picture nominee Selma. With Pitt on board, Netflix has a chance to make its first truly game-changing move in feature films.
“War Machine is a rip-roaring, behind-the-facade tale of modern war decision-makers, from the corridors of power to the distant regions of America’s ambitions,” Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix, said in a public statement. “Brad and David are a perfect team to make this timely, compelling and entertaining film.”
Pitt also chimed in, saying, “We are so excited to be a part of the inspiring commitment by Netflix to produce cutting-edge content and to deliver it to a global audience.”
Though the film is unquestionably a major acquisition for Netflix, the partnership may also be a savvy business move on Pitt’s part. As Deadline points out, anything starring Pitt is sure to nab attention from both major studios and indie companies alike. Then again, War Machine isn’t anything like the actor’s recent dramas. It’s a smart satire, a genre often has problems drawing sizable audiences to theaters. Distributing it via Netflix will potentially make it viewer-friendly, while still keeping it eligible for award season consideration just like in a traditional theatrical release.
War Machine will begin filming in August and will become available for streaming on Netflix sometime in 2016, along with a qualifying theatrical run. The movie is just the latest project in Pitt’s increasingly busy film schedule though. By The Sea, the drama directed, written, and co-starring Angelina Jolie, hits theaters this November. After wrapping War Machine, Pitt will also co-star alongside Marion Cotillard in a still-untitled period spy thriller for Paramount. He also reprise his role as Gerry Lane, as well as produce, a sequel to the zombie apocalypse hit World War Z, which is scheduled for release in summer 2017.
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