Over the last year, Amazon Studios have taken advantage of the ongoing pandemic and have been snapping up films from other studios that were formerly scheduled for theatrical releases. They’ve already purchased Coming 2 America and the Michael B. Jordan-led Tom Clancy adaptation Without Remorse, but now they’ve got their eyes on an even bigger prize.
Reportedly, the giant corporation is readying a $200 million bid to secure the rights to The Tomorrow War, the upcoming sci-fi actioner starring Chris Pratt. Originally slated for a late July release, Paramount have reportedly decided to court streaming platforms about potentially selling the film, and Amazon is poised to purchase it.
The movie comes from director Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie), and is set within a futuristic conflict between humans and newly invading aliens. Humanity decides to level the playing field by drafting soldiers from the past to fight the war.
The deal for the movie is not yet done, but if completed, it’s a huge move by Amazon. Not only because it’s a whopping price and the film is potentially a hit, but also because it’s a risk. $200 million for an original blockbuster whose star has not really proven he can open a film on his own without a franchise backing him up is a bit of a gamble.
Pratt is a movie star, but only in the current day application of the word. He’s nowhere near the kind of Tom Cruise/Will Smith/Johnny Depp power of twenty years ago. All his big movies have been propped up by being related to Marvel, Jurassic Park or the LEGO series. The one time he was asked to open a big, original film? Passengers, which barely broke even.
So it’s debatable whether audiences were coming out in droves to see Pratt, or to see the latest instalment of a beloved franchise. The Tomorrow War was perhaps poised to answer that question, but if Paramount does indeed sell the film and it debuts directly on Amazon, we may still be having this Pratt debate for years.
Traditional studios have been happy to offload plenty of titles to streaming services in recent years, mostly because it’s a win-win for them. They can take the cash and not have to risk debuting an original film that doesn’t have a built-in audience. And streamers are happy to pay large sums because they all need content to to compete with each other in the streaming wars.
Still, if this deal goes through, in some ways it’s a shame. It would have been nice to see an original blockbuster debut on the big screen – although who knows what the pandemic looks like in July – and see whether they could still be successful in contemporary Hollywood. As mentioned, if the film simply debuts on Amazon prime, we won’t really know.
We’ll wait and see if the deal goes through, and whether other studios smell an opportunity and try to sell some of their projects to streaming platforms for exorbitant prices.