Last summer, we heard David Michod, director of Animal Kingdom and The Rover and writer of Hesher, was attached to write and direct an adaptation of Michael Hastings’ The Operators for Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company, with Pitt attached to star. Today comes the news that Pitt will play “a character patterned after” General Stanley McChrystal (pictured) in the film, now called War Machine, and that they’ve made a distribution deal with Netflix.
This will be the biggest investment Netflix will have made so far in a feature film, in the $30 million range.
The book – full title, The Operators: The Wild And Terrifying Inside Story Of America’s War In Afghanistan – was a close-up look at the hard partying, tough talking, dick-swinging world of American military decision makers at the time, written by Hastings as he was following McChrystal around Europe and Afghanistan for a month in 2010. Part of it was published in Rolling Stone (“The Runaway General”) and ended up getting McChrystal fired over some less than flattering quotes about Obama went viral.
Plan B acquired the Hastings book last year and originally it seemed like a straight nonfiction film. It has instead been turned into a fictionalized satire.
That it’s now a “satirical comedy inspired by” The Operators and not a film adaptation of The Operators, as originally reported, is a bit of a head scratcher. As is the fact that they chose to call it “War Machine,” a title shared with both a prominent Marvel character and an infamous former MMA fighter in jail for trying to kill his ex-girlfriend. Pro tip: try Googling your title before you settle on it.
“War Machine is a rip-roaring, behind-the-facade tale of modern war decision-makers, from the corridors of power to the distant regions of America’s ambitions,” said Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix. “Brad and David are a perfect team to make this timely, compelling and entertaining film.” [Deadline]
I guess I’m sort of picturing Too Big To Fail, but as a comedy, and with Pitt playing Schmanly SchMcChrystal, commandant of US courses in Schmafschmanischman.
As a strange coda to The Operators (which is great, incidentally), Michael Hastings died in a conspiracy-theory-inspiring one-car accident (which raised questions about the possibility of “car hacking”) in 2013. Hard to say whether that had anything to do with Michod and Co’s decision to fictionalize the book (and they didn’t acquire the rights until a year after Hastings’ death), but it sure would’ve influenced me if I were them (“Instead of this, I was considering a tell-all about puppies.”). It’d be nice if Brad Pitt took a break from his Aldo Raine accent for this one, but I wouldn’t count on it.