In a potentially game-changing deal that could impact the coexistence of streamers and theatrical distributors, Apple has struck a deal to acquire an untitled Formula 1 racing movie that has Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinsky lead and brad pitt attached to the star, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The deal, nearly five months in the making, reunites Kosinski with many of his maverick team, including writer Ehren Kruger and producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Chad Oman by Jerry Bruckheimer Filmsas maverick hopes to make $1 billion or more when it hits theaters. All are back in equal capacity for the racing project and are joined by Sir Lewis Hamiltonthe seven-time F1 world champion, who will produce under Pitt’s Plan B banner.
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 film would have an exclusive – and worldwide – runtime of at least 30 days (one source says it could even go as long as ‘to 60 days) before heading to the Apple TV+ platform. A distribution partner should join us, and it is not known when we would be approached. This could happen before production, potentially being pulled in by a sizzle reel, or perhaps after production is over.
Apple has already released films in theaters, with animated films wolf walkers benefiting from a 30-day window and Macbeth’s Tragedy get 21 days. However, these were small-scale reward game releases, not tentpole-style extravaganzas.
In another first, insiders say the theatrical component is structured in a way that would see Apple and the filmmakers split the take on the big screen outing 50-50. The single deal, in essence, pays the creative team in three ways: their initial fee, their hefty buyout fee, and the theatrical backend. Sources say Kosinski, who will also executive produce, and Bruckheimer will see paydays well into the eight figures, with Pitt and company hitting $40-50 million. Apple had no comment.
Prior to this deal, creatives and their reps had Sophie’s choice: take a buyout or push for a theatrical release? But CAA, which represents Pitt, Kosinski and Bruckheimer, asked for another answer: why not both?
Part of the betting here is Pitt and the F1 races. Without having the box office record of Maverick’Like Tom Cruise, Pitt is a big name globally. And F1 is a growing, sexy sport that embodies a certain enviable lifestyle. The other bet is the theatrical experience that will take audiences to a place most have never been before: inside a racing car. As maverick and Kosinski generate kudos for hands-on, real-world effects that place the audience in the cockpit of an F-14, the goal is to put the viewer behind the wheel of what is essentially a rocket on a runway.
The idea for the project was born with Kosinski, who turns out to be an initiator of ideas after going through the years Superior gun swamp with a light bulb from a concept that has hired Cruise to do a sequel. The filmmaker had met Hamilton briefly through Cruise while filming maverick, and so when he decided to follow through with his idea, CAA and his management company Grandview arranged a meeting at the San Vincente Bungalows with Bruckheimer, Hamilton and his manager, Penni Thow, where things began to crystallize. A search for a writer ensued, with the initials maverick scribe Kruger being chosen, before a fateful meeting just before Thanksgiving between Kosinski and Pitt, where Kosinski convinced the actor to join the race crew for the story’s veteran pilot coming out of retirement to mentor a rookie promising.
In December, the project was pitched by CAA to studios and steamships in a tight 30-minute pitch that drew instant offers. In the end, it was Apple, Netflix, Amazon and MGM, then led by Michael De Luca. (The latter executive now has a top movie job at Warner Bros. and may be able to bid again on the distribution aspect.) Apple went hard with a theatrical commitment that , when completed, could prove to be a model for future agreements that recognize that theaters and streaming is here to stay for the duration.