When it comes to making big movies, it's all about who's starring in them — and Netflix just picked up a film starring one of the biggest names around: Brad Pitt. The movie is called War Machine, and Netflix has acquired rights to distribute the film when it's finished next year. The film has Pitt starring as a US general in control of American forces in Afghanistan. It's going to be a satirical comedy, but it's based on a real general and a nonfiction novel, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan. Shooting should start in August. Netflix plans to release it to all subscribers and in "select theaters" — likely enough to qualify it for awards — next year.
Though it isn't particularly surprising to see Netflix pick up a movie like War Machine at this point, it's a notable milestone in its strategy. Netflix is already picking up broad films and niche films, but now it's starting to pick up the kind of fiction films that can win it prestige and awards, complementing its TV acquisition of House of Cards. At this point, it's reasonable to question how much Netflix needs to fight for that prestige — we all believe it can give us good things to watch — but it may be necessary if Netflix wants to be a true alternative to the box office one day. With a huge name like Pitt on board, there's no doubt that this film will get attention — even if it's no World War Z.