Rarely would we compare the careers of Brad Pitt and Adam Sandler. The two talents don’t seem like they occupy the same stratosphere, let alone the same industry. Yet, their bodies of work now have a distinct connection that could spell a major change to the way movies are made and distributed, as they each are now making movies for Netflix.
The rental and streaming service announced that it has agreed to co-produce Brad Pitt’s War Machine with the actor’s Plan B Entertainment. The military satire, based on the best-selling book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, will be available to Netflix subscribers, as well as released in "select theaters" some time next year, according to a release. Australian director David Michod (Animal Kingdom, The Rover) will helm the comedy, while Pitt is slated to star.
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos praised War Machine in a statement, but it’s Brad Pitt’s words that carry weight about the future this deal promises. Pitt said:
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."
Indeed. War Machine is the latest in a string of original features that Netflix is producing, which brings us to Adam Sandler. The comedian and his Happy Madison Productions cut a deal with Netflix last year that promises four original movies that will debut on the streaming service. He’s currently working on the first one, a broad Western comedy called The Ridiculous Six (that has pissed off Native Americans with its crude and offensive humor). Sandler’s not the only comedian going down this route. Ricky Gervais is writing and directing Special Correspondents for Netflix. His cast includes bona-fide movie stars like Eric Bana, Vera Farmiga and Kevin Pollack. And now Brad Pitt is joining the ranks of actors bringing new projects to Netflix.
Why? There are a number of reasons, I can imagine, but basically it boils down to Netflix being a willing partner – creatively and financially. The streaming service has shown what it could do with serial television programs like House of Cards. It revived Arrested Development, and partnered with Marvel on a series of shows -- which kicked off with the incredible Daredevil.
Transitioning to full-blown feature films was inevitable, particularly if mid-budgeted dramas struggle to secure screen space in local multiplexes because tentpoles are eating up auditoriums. Also, it’s worth noting that Brad Pitt’s movies don’t always make a ton of money at the box office. Fury, his latest war drama, banked $85 million in domestic totals, though the actor had a hit with World War Z in 2013. Maybe Netflix is the right fit for War Machine. As for the future, it will be very interesting to see how any other major movie stars start exploring unique content and distribution deals like this one at Netflix, and at its streaming competition.