It was five months ago when news broke that Apple had reportedly won the bidding war to secure Brad Pitt’s Formula 1 film project. On Wednesday we received confirmation: the F1 movie indeed belongs to Apple now. It will be directed by Joseph Kosinski, hot off the heels of his critical darling, Top Gun: Maverick, and will list Lewis Hamilton as a producer alongside Jerry Bruckheimer, Chad Oman and Pitt’s company, Plan B Entertainment.
While Apple revealed no details on the plot of the film, Variety has corroborated Deadline’s earlier report that the movie will star Pitt as an F1 racer coming out of retirement to partner with a rookie, a plot that’s basically identical to Sylvester Stallone’s hilariously over-the-top 2001 CART movie, Driven. What’s especially interesting about this project is that Apple is considering an extended theatrical run unlike anything the company has done before. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie could hit theaters first before landing on Apple TV+:
The key to the deal is a theatrical distribution component. But instead of a token release in a small number of theaters or a day-and-date opening, the movie would have an exclusive — and global — run of at least 30 days (one source says it could even go as high as 60 days) before heading to the Apple TV+ platform. A distribution partner would need to come on board, and it’s unclear when one would be approached. That could happen before production, potentially enticed by a sizzle reel, or perhaps after production has wrapped.
Apple has released movies in theaters before, with animated film Wolfwalkers enjoying a 30-day window and The Tragedy of Macbeth getting 21 days. However, those were small-scale awards play releases, not tentpole-style extravaganzas.
That all relies on a distribution partner joining the table, however, which seemingly hasn’t happened yet. Meanwhile, the arrangement may include a 50/50 split of proceeds, with half going to Apple and half to Kosinski, Plan B, Jerry Bruckheimer Films and, presumably, seven-time knighted F1 champ Lewis Hamilton himself.
In another first, insiders say the theatrical component is structured in a way that would see Apple and the filmmakers split the take from the big-screen release 50-50. The unique deal, in essence, pays the creative team three ways: their upfront fees, their hefty buyout fees and the theatrical backend. Sources say Kosinski, who will also produce, and Bruckheimer will see paydays well into the eight figures, with Pitt and his company hitting $40 million to $50 million. Apple had no comment.
Given the money flying around Formula 1 now and the entertainment potential proven by Drive To Survive, all of this makes sense. Plus, as Hollywood Reporter points out, Kosinski has demonstrated a knack for immersing viewers within high-intensity, high-motion air skirmishes, so F1 racing should be a natural fit for the director. According to the publication, the idea for the film came about when Kosinski met Hamilton through Cruise while Maverick was in production; Pitt was actually the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place. The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star has been seen at every Monaco Grand Prix as far back as I can remember, so I imagine he must have been thrilled to receive the pitch.