We knew Netflix was “going big” when they acquired the rights to a Brad Pitt movie — but we weren’t sure quite how big until now. It turns out Netflix has plunked down $60 million to ensure that loyal (predominantly non-conservative) film buffs will get to see Brad Pitt star as Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal in War Machine, the satirical movie adaptation of Michael Hastings’ 2012 book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.
Hastings had profiled the U.S. Army general, then commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in the Afghanistan war, for a June 2010 Rolling Stone article, publishing McChrystal’s staff’s overtly critical and contemptuous opinions of the Obama administration. Shortly after the article went to print, President Obama relieved McChrystal of his command.
Using these events as a backdrop, Pitt and Australian director David Michod (Animal Kingdom, The Rover) originally wanted to turn The Operators into a a satirical comedy with $60 million budget, but the film’s original backers were not on board with the price tag—wanting it slashed by half—nor the angle—preferring to make a dramatic biopic that would appeal to the mainstream.
As soon as the film went on the auction block, it was picked up by Netflix, a smart move which, sources close to the project say, is “great for the specialty film business, since people might be more willing to see challenging, liberal-leaning material in the comfort of their own home [rather] than in a movie theater.”