If you think the streaming networks are going away any time soon, you’d be dead wrong. In fact, since they don’t have to split theater costs (55/45-ish) and don’t have to get movies distributed onto any other platform other than their own, streaming networks like Amazon and Netflix have solid business models where they can dictate a movie on their terms. This is why a critic like Scott Foundas left Variety last night for a much more lucrative position in acquisitions with Amazon Studios and a studio like Netflix has enough clout (and cash) to foot the bill for a $60 million political comedy from Brad Pitt (you can bet all the money in the world no major studio would make that movie for that kind of money). It looks like Pitt’s wife, Angelina Jolie Pitt, is following in his footsteps.
Late last night Netflix announced Jolie will direct an adaptation of “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers,” a harrowing and poignant memoir from Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung about surviving the deadly Khmer Rouge regime.
This is certain to become a continuing trend. As studios invest in comic book movies and huge blockbusters, huge stars like Pitt, Jolie, etc. will find their homes at more adventurous places like Amazon or Netflix. Those streaming networks, trying to become their own players in Hollywood, will continue to be happy to make a home for superstars of this ilk. These two are by no means an anomaly. Adam Sandler already has a huge deal at Netflix. Spike Lee and Terry Gilliam’s next movies will debut at Amazon. David Fincher’s next project “Utopia” is at HBO. Maybe we’re looking at a day when everything in a theater is a big blockbuster and all the more interesting dramas will stream on TV (ok, probably not, but you get the gist of the way things are heading).
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Jolie Pitt will direct and produce the Netflix Original Film from a script she co-adapted with Ung. Acclaimed Cambodian director and producer Rithy Panh, of the Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Language film “The Missing Picture” will also be a producer. The film will be made available to members of the world’s leading Internet TV network in late 2016, and will be submitted to major international festivals.
Loung Ung was five years old when the Khmer Rouge assumed power over Cambodia in 1975 and began a four-year reign of terror and genocide in which nearly two million Cambodians died. Forced from her family’s home in Phnom Penh, Ung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while her six siblings were sent to labor camps. Ung survived and wrote First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, which was first published in 2000.
“I was deeply affected by Loung’s book,” commented Jolie Pitt in a statement. “It deepened forever my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it. And it helped me draw closer still to the people of Cambodia, my son’s homeland.” She added, “It is a dream come true to be able to adapt this book for the screen, and I’m honored to work alongside Loung and filmmaker Rithy Panh.” Jolie Pitt’s Cambodian-born son, Maddox, will also be involved in the production of the film.
“Films like this are hard to watch but important to see,” said Jolie Pitt. “They are also hard to get made. Netflix is making this possible, and I am looking forward to working with them and excited that the film will reach so many people.” The film will be released in both Khmer and English.
Jolie Pitt is currently in post-production on “By The Sea,” a drama she wrote and directed starring herself and Brad Pitt, that will be released by Universal in November. By the way if it’s not already clear by these choices, you can probably squash all those Marvel-directing rumors by now.