Formula 1: expanding the business on the big screen


One more business bet is already underway for the Formula 1. To its already extravagant ecosystem, replete with luxury brands and high-priced tickets, will be added Hollywood celebrity and a Golden Globe-winning figure thanks to its new product: a racing movie starring Brad Pitt and it will be released in Apple Original Films.

The Formula 1 film (no release date yet) is the next media step for the circuit in a span of three years, after four continuous seasons of the documentary series ‘Drive to Survive’ on the Netflix streaming platform, which It has changed the perception of motorsports towards fans and also towards those who had no idea about this sport, but are beginning to be part of its consumption.

That is the direction of the Formula 1 steering wheel since it began its relationship with Liberty Media in 2017: to become a profitable business that increasingly engages with new generations and markets, that is, to radically change the perception of being an industry of niche and earn connection with people you would not have imagined.

It is not the only business vision involved in this film. Like Liberty Media, Apple has entered the sports industry with the intention of increasing its markets and revenues, which is why it signed a 10-year contract to exclusively own the MLS broadcast rights.

In addition to Formula 1 and the most important soccer league in the United States, Apple TV has also become relevant in the sports industry through series such as ‘Ted Lasso’, which tells the story of an American soccer coach in England, or ‘Swagger’, inspired by the life of basketball player Kevin Durant.

“We are seeing a complete transition of a new business model and sports management of F1. We are already seeing results, in recent years F1 has come to have events where it beats monsters like the Super Bowl or the Champions League final; we are seeing assertiveness in decision making. Liberty Media has a fresh mentality and comes to break all the paradigms that have existed and with which the circuit communicates”, Alberto Tello de Meneses, consultant in strategic communication, image and public perception, explains to El Economista.

According to data shared by Formula 1 itself in 2021, its television audience reached 445 million in that season, but by 2022 the expectation shared by Nielsen Sports is to reach 1 billion globally for the first time, which would translate into that one in seven people in the world would be captivated by the circuit.

The new Formula 1 film fits in with the objective of massification of the circuit and therefore has the necessary ingredients. It is not only about the figure of Brad Pitt, a cinema icon who has starred in films like ‘Fight Club (1999)’, ‘Troy (2004)’ or ‘Inglourious Basterds (2009)’, but also about the direction of Joseph Kosinski, the mind behind ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, which has become the third highest-grossing film so far in 2022 with more than 308 million dollars in revenue in its first two weeks (Bleacher data report).

The plot will involve a 58-year-old pilot (Brad Pitt) coming out of retirement to mentor a rookie with a promising career, an idea Kosinski came up with after meeting Lewis Hamilton on the set of Top Gun. : Maverick’. In addition, the British pilot was convinced to serve as one of the producers, along with Plan B Entertainment (Brad Pitt’s production house), Ehren Kruger (writer), as well as Jerry Bruckheimer and Chad Oman (also producers), from Jerry Bruckheimer Films. .

What does the film mean within the F1 business plan?

“Mainly, that they are opening up to new media, an official film by F1 and Liberty Media means continuing to explore means to have greater reach and brand presence. Here it will depend too much on the approach, on how realistic or emotionally captivating the film will be for the audience”, answers Alberto Tello de Meneses.

In accordance with The Hollywood Reporter, the Formula 1 movie will be released in theaters for at least 30 to 60 days before it can be streamed on Apple TV+. In economic terms, it is estimated that Brad Pitt and his production house will receive between 40 and 50 million dollars, similar figures for Joseph Kosinski and Jerry Bruckheimer, since the box office income will be divided 50% between the production team and Manzana.

Apple Original Films won the commercial exploitation license for the Formula 1 film from platforms such as Netflix and Amazon in December 2021, seeking to further boost its role in the film industry, which was favored earlier this year by becoming in the first streaming service to win the Oscar for best picture with ‘coda‘. Its growth and diversification match the F1 line of business.

“We are experiencing a historic moment in F1, it is very important to open our minds to all the changes that are yet to come (…) suddenly we can run into a Lando Norris (McLaren driver) playing online against a fan in some simulator and I would not hesitate to see even a staging, plays on Broadway. I insist, imagination is the limit and Liberty Media is going to try to position the F1 brand and, above all, the emotional characteristics of the drivers so that they can connect with the different potential markets”, adds the specialist in strategic communication.

The cinematographic products related to Formula 1 were born in 1966 with the tape called ‘Grand Prix’, followed by the documentary feature film ‘Senna (2011)’, in honor of the late Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, as well as ‘Rush: passion and glory (2013)’, which told the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda, ​​until reaching the Netflix series, ‘Drive to Survive (2019)’ and a couple more biographical documentaries with ‘Fernando (2020)’, about the Spanish Fernando Alonso, and ‘Schumacher (2021)’, about the German Michael Schumacher.

But this time, as with the ‘Drive to Survive’ series, the interference of Formula 1 in production acquires greater power with a clear mission in terms of market: “Definitely all this is going to a younger target and that He is not so familiar with sports, but who likes entertainment, they are generations between 22 and 35 years old who had not necessarily had any type of interest and who popularly conceived motorsports as something where they only see cars go around”, he defines Alberto Tello.



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