Netflix has made a significant purchase at the Toronto International Film Festival, acquiring Richard Linklater’s film “Hit Man” for $20 million. The film, co-written Linklater and Glen Powell, stars Powell as a psychology professor who doubles as an undercover hit man for the police. “Hit Man” offers a comic and existential take on the hit-man genre and gained attention as one of the breakout hits at the festival.
The acquisition Netflix does not come as a surprise, as the streaming platform has been investing heavily in original content and distribution rights for various films. Although Netflix has not yet announced release plans for “Hit Man,” the film also premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The story is loosely based on a true account published in a 2001 piece Skip Hollandsworth in Texas Monthly, which describes the experiences of faux-hit-man Gary Johnson.
In an interview, Linklater explained that he and Powell chose to produce the film independently before selling it to a distributor, to avoid the challenges often faced in the modern Hollywood industry. Linklater expressed his frustration with the current system, stating, “It used to be the head of a studio would sit down with you, talk, maybe say, ‘I think you’ve got the movie in you. Let’s do it.’ Now, they don’t even want to hear from you. You’re up against algorithms and marketing in advance.”
The sale of “Hit Man” to Netflix represents a major success in a fall-festival movie market that has been impacted ongoing strikes. Speculation suggests that studios and streamers may be more motivated to acquire finished films due to potential disruptions in the production pipeline. This acquisition follows Netflix’s distribution of Linklater’s previous movie, “Apollo 10 1/2,” as well as Anna Kendrick’s directorial debut, “Woman of the Hour.”
– Skip Hollandsworth’s article in Texas Monthly, 2001
– Toronto International Film Festival
– Venice Film Festival
– The Associated Press