Formula 1 Racing Movie: New Deal for Director Kosinski and Star Brad Pitt

The unique deal, which calls for wide theatrical release with a meaningful window, will have the creative team paid three ways: their upfront fees, hefty buyout fees and theatrical backend.


In game-changing deal that could impact how streamers and theatrical distributors coexist, Apple has closed a pact to acquire an untitled Formula One racing movie that has Top Gun: Maverick filmmaker Joseph Kosinksi directing and Brad Pitt starring.
The deal, five months in the making, reunites Kosinski with his Maverick team, including writer Ehren Kruger and producers of Jerry Bruckheimer and Chad Oman of Bruckheimer Films, as Top Gun: Maverick hopes to gross $1 billion or more in its theatrical run.
All are back in the same capacity for the racing project. They are being joined by Sir Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time F1 world champion, who will produce along with Pitt’s Plan B banner.


The key to the deal is theatrical distribution component.


But instead of token release in small number of theaters or day-and-date opening, the movie would have an exclusive — and global — run of at least 30 days (one source says it could even go as high as 60 days) before heading to the Apple TV+ platform.

Distribution partner would need to come on board, and it’s unclear when one would be approached. That could happen before production, potentially enticed by a sizzle reel, or perhaps after production has wrapped.


Apple has released movies in theaters before, with animated film Wolfwalkers enjoying a 30-day window and The Tragedy of Macbeth getting 21 days.


However, those were small-scale awards play releases, not tentpole-style extravaganzas.


The theatrical component is structured in a way that would see Apple and the filmmakers split the take from the big-screen release 50-50. The unique deal, in essence, pays the creative team three ways: their upfront fees, their hefty buyout fees and the theatrical backend.

Kosinski, who will also produce, and Bruckheimer will see paydays well into the eight figures, with Pitt and his company hitting $40 to $50 million.

Before this deal, creatives and their reps had a choice to make: take a buyout or push for a theatrical release? But CAA, which represents Pitt, Kosinski and Bruckheimer, pushed for both,

The allure us a combination of Brad Pitt and F1 racing. While not having the box office record of Tom Cruise, Pitt is as big of a name on a worldwide scale. And F1 is a growing and sexy sport that embodies a certain kind of enviable lifestyle.

The theatrical experience will take audiences to the inside of a single-seat racer. Just as Maverick and Kosinski are generating kudos for practical effects that put audiences in the cockpit of an F-14, the goal is to put the viewer behind the wheel of what is rocket ship on a track.

The idea for the project originated with Kosinski, who is proving to be an idea igniter after having cut through the years-long Top Gun morass with a lightbulb of a concept that engaged Cruise to make a sequel. The filmmaker had met Hamilton briefly through Cruise during the making of Maverick, and so when he decided to make a move on his idea, CAA and his management firm Grandview set up a meeting at the San Vincente Bungalows with Bruckheimer, Hamilton and his manager, Penni Thow, where things began to crystalize. A search for a writer ensued, with initial Maverick scribe Kruger being chosen, before a fateful meeting just prior to Thanksgiving between Kosinski and Pitt, where Kosinski convinced the actor to join the racing crew for the story’s seasoned driver who comes out of retirement in order to mentor a promising rookie.

In December, the project was shopped by CAA to the studios and steamers in a tight 30-minute pitch that elicited instant offers. In the end, it came down to Apple, Netflix, Amazon and MGM, then run by Michael De Luca.

Apple cornered hard with a theatrical commitment that, when fulfilled, could prove to be a model for future deals that rely on both theatrical and streaming.