Brad Pitt F1 film obstacles emerge as reported costs soar to record-breaking amount

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen shakes hands with Brad Pitt. Britain July 2023

Max Verstappen shakes hands with Brad Pitt on the Silverstone grid with Damson Idris standing between them. Britain July 2023

The still-unnamed Brad Pitt F1 movie is set to become one of the most expensive ever made, according to a report from a Hollywood specialist publication.

The movie, which was announced in 2021, is being made by Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski, and stars Brad Pitt alongside Damson Idris in a fictional F1 tale.

Costs stack up for Brad Pitt F1 movie

According to Hollywood-focused and American powerhouse publication Puck, the untitled F1 movie’s budget has swollen to over $300 million – making it one of the most expensive movies ever made.

The movie’s storyline is about a fictional F1 driver named Sonny Hayes – played by Bitt – who comes out of retirement to mentor Joshua Pearce – played by Idris.

The cast also includes Tobias Menzies, Kerry Condon, Javier Bardem, and Lewis Hamilton. The project kicked off in 2021, being produced for Apple, but the movie still doesn’t have a name, distributor, or mooted release date.

According to the report, there are a few reasons as to why the movie is set to become one of the most expensive ever made. At $300 million or more production cost, this would place it just outside the top 10 most expensive ever, tied in 11th place with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Justice League, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The cost is said to have shot up as a result of the timing of the beginning of production, which started shortly just before the SAG-AFTRA strike began to dramatically increase costs.

On top of that, the production is putting real actors in real racing cars – as was seen at last year’s British Grand Prix when Pitt drove the modified Mercedes-prepared F2 APXGP car of “his team” during the F1 race weekend, although not in an active session.

The escalating costs also suggest the movie could face a tough challenge to make a profit, especially given the niche subject matter that is Formula 1.

The Hollywood-focused publication put the break-even point for a movie at 2-2.5x its budget, meaning it will need to make at least $600 million at the box office – more likely between $750-900 million – just to break even.

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Only 54 movies have ever managed to reach the $1 billion box office mark, and only 71 have topped the $900 million mark. As a result, Pitt’s star power will need to be firing on all cylinders if the unnamed F1 movie is to make a profit.

Pitt, together with F1’s current boom in popularity, is the big draw for the movie, which also has to contend with the fact it is not part of an already established major franchise – as many of the top-grossing movies ever have been.

If the movie is to turn a profit, based on the reported budget, it would have to be Pitt’s career highest-grossing movie. His record to date is the 2013 film World War Z, which brought in $540 million at the box office.

What will help the movie is the fact that F1 is massively popular globally, thanks to the efforts of Liberty Media and the corporation’s embracing of digital and social media, including ever-climbing audience figures in the United States.

On top of that is the fact that, given it’s an Apple production, the theatrical release won’t be the sole metric of success as the movie will also be released on Apple TV – meaning the box office gross is being reported as being used to cover distribution and advertising.

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