Apple has won the bidding war for the yet-unnamed Formula 1-themed Brad Pitt vehicle that may or may not also involve Lewis Hamilton, Deadline reported earlier this week. Supposedly the film will star Pitt as a veteran racer who returns to competition to partner and guide a young talent. If that sounds at all familiar, it’s because Sylvester Stallone essentially made the movie 20 years ago, only with CART instead of F1, and it’s one of the greatest racing films of all time.
Oh, sure: in an objective sense, Driven is not a good movie. But it’s bad in a dizzying, frantic, sweaty, veins-bulging-out-of-your-forehead way. Sort of like how Crank was cut to make the viewer feel like they too were on methamphetamines, Driven is a fever dream set to the industrial stylings of Filter and The Crystal Method. It also earnestly attempted to sell the man we’d later come to know as Dr. Wilson from House as a threatening character. In other words, all the makings of a cinematic triumph.
I get the distinct sense Apple’s F1 movie will not be such a masterpiece. Perhaps it’ll be good, but it’s likelier to be mediocre and safe, which would make it infinitely more boring than Driven. If you’re going to make a bad movie, do it aggressively, unapologetically so — then you can’t fail.
Evidently, neither Apple nor the handful of other production companies vying for this script think it’ll flop the way Driven did. Paramount, MGM, Sony, Universal, Netflix and Amazon were all stumbling over each other to win the package, according to Deadline. Filmmaker Joseph Kosinski, who made his directorial debut with Tron: Legacy and more recently directed Top Gun: Maverick, will be at the helm. Jerry Bruckheimer and Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment are due to produce.
(Apparently, Kosinski was also responsible for the Gears of War “Mad World” commercial that was all the rage in 2006. Hopefully someone out there finds this random fact as interesting as I do!)
Racing movies don’t tend to garner much commercial momentum, save for an outlier every 15 years or so, like Days of Thunder or Talladega Nights. And even then I’m not sure if Talladega Nights counts, hilarious though it is, because you could plug Will Ferrell into any sports comedy in the aughts and guarantee butts in seats.
But those were NASCAR movies; this will be an F1 movie. While that might’ve meant instant box office death years ago, today Hollywood seems to have more faith in it for obvious reasons. Ron Howard’s Rush was a modest success, but only because of its appeal outside the States; domestically, it well underperformed its budget. Something tells me the next F1 movie will do a bit better in that regard.