About a week ago, we reported that Netflix had acquired distribution rights to Brad Pitt’s military satire, “War Machine,” for $30 million—their highest investment in an original movie yet.
Turns out that number was bogus.
THR is now reporting that Netflix actually paid $60 million—twice as much as we originally thought—in order to get the David Michod-directed vehicle off the ground.
While it may not be a blockbuster movie number, $60 million is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, as it turns out, “War Machine” was originally set to be financed by New Regency and RatPac Entertainment, but they’d urged the filmmakers to lower the budget, prompting the move to Netflix. But the online streaming service seems to be confident in their decision, despite the high price tag.
Jonathan Friedland, a Netflix spokesman, told THR:
“David Michod and Brad Pitt are known for the fearless and exceptional intelligence of their work, which is why ‘War Machine’ will be a great treat for Netflix audiences around the world.”
Netflix is something of an enigma in the film and TV world. Within the past few years, they’ve made a point up their credibility as a network, bringing in hit shows like “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” and more recently, “Marvel’s Daredevil.” The biggest difference between Netflix and your average network, is that their numbers are a secret to everyone—even show creators.
In a recent interview with THR, “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon revealed how little he knows about the show’s performance.
“To this day, I have no idea how many people have watched the show on Netflix. They have never given me any data whatsoever. All they say is, ‘Well, we’re doing well and we’d like another season.’ And that’s all I really need to know.”
This kind of freedom is a dream for filmmakers, but something of a nightmare for other networks and film financers. The reality is that one actually knows how much Netflix’s move to original content has improved its subscriber user base, if at all. No one but Netflix, of course. Sure, we know they have 62 million or so subscribers, but as for the success of each individual show, we’re completely in the dark. With all this in mind, Netflix is the only real contender out there working with a full deck of information, where as everyone else can only guess.
This move on Netflix’s part may also make an impact in one other way: bringing back the mid-budget film.
In 2012, Forbes lamented the death of the mid-budget flicks—movies that are made between around $50-$80 million. With Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, DC’s Cinematic Universe, and a bevy of $150 million blockbuster franchises making their way to the big screen in the next five or so years, it makes sense that studios would rather go all out for a half-billion-dollar return on their investment. Could the acquisition of “War Machine” by Netflix mark the return of the mid-budget picture?
It’s an interesting idea, and one that makes sense on many levels, but at the end of the day, we’ll just have to wait and see. But at the very least, if Netflix’s first big foray into movies is anything like its foray into television, Hollywood may be in for a big surprise.
What do you think about Netflix acquiring Brad Pitt’s new movie? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!