Apple Could Have Entered a Real Formula 1 Team for the Budget of Its Upcoming Brad Pitt Drama ‘F1’

Apple Could Have Entered a Real Formula 1 Team for the Budget of Its Upcoming Brad Pitt Drama ‘F1’

An Apple film production has been running around the Formula 1 paddock during the 2023 and 2024 seasons, working on a new F1 movie driven by lead actor Brad Pitt and producer Lewis Hamilton, called “F1.” According to reports, the film has already blown through its entire $US300 million budget with plenty of production still taking place before the film’s release next summer. This makes it one of the most expensive movies ever made, and it’s not entirely common for racing films to be commercially successful. There’s almost no way “F1” will make its budget back at the box office. Apple probably would have been better off starting its own F1 team.

The movie is centered around Pitt, playing retired F1 pilot Sonny Hayes, absent from the sport since the 1990s (!), returning to the sport to serve as the mentor to young racer Joshua Pierce (Damson Idris.) Javier Bardem plays team principal to struggling outfit APXGP. Pitt is 60 years old, while Idris is 32. To put this in F1 terms, this would be akin to Williams hiring Damon Hill to come back and mentor Daniel Ricciardo. Truly wild.

The current season-long F1 team budget cap is $US135 million all-in. Hell, for the money it has spent on this film, the company could have started two F1 teams and brought another Junior/Senior team dynamic to the sport a la Red Bull and RB. In 2023 it is estimated that Haas, the worst team on the grid, scored $US60 million in prize money, so at the absolute worst Apple would have gotten almost half of its money back on the project and still gained quite a lot of advertising exposure for its brands.

Instead, the company will push hundreds of millions of dollars into a movie that it seems like comparatively few people will go see. Just to give you some idea, here are the top six highest grossing racing-related films made.

Cars 2 (2011) – $US562,110,313

Cars (2006) – $US461,991,867

Cars 3 (2017) – $US383,930,656

Turbo (2013) – 282,570,682

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) – $US236,350,661

Ford V Ferrari (2019) – $US225,508,210

There were other “Fast and Furious” films higher up on the list, but I would argue they haven’t been about racing at all since at least the third movie. It’s a little disconcerting to see racing films topped by four Pixar movies based loosely around motorsport, and the highest actual racing drama, one of the best stories in racing history, barely doubled its budget in box offices.

For a little more context here are the top six highest grossing Brad Pitt films since he started acting in 1987.

World War Z (2013) – $US540,400,000

Troy (2004) – $US497,400,000

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) – $US487,200,000

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – $US450,700,000

Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood (2019) – $US377,600,000

Ocean’s Twelve (2004) – $US362,700,000

None of the movies on either of these lists had a budget anywhere close to $US300 million. In order for Apple to make its money back on this movie after the production and advertising budgets, it’ll have to clear nearly a billion dollars at the box office, and F1 just isn’t that popular.

It would have been better off spending some of that production budget hiring Adrian Newey after his run at Red Bull, and getting a couple good drivers and giving it a go. We might have had an Apple F1 constructor’s championship by now. Wouldn’t we have all wanted to see a car running a Ted Lasso livery anyway? Oh, what could have been.

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