Netflix is heading into period piece war dramas next year as part of its ever-growing movie slate. Star-studded World War II-set films have done gangbusters at the box office over the years (looking at you, Dunkirk). In its endless attempt to have a little of everything, Netflix is snatching up its own versions. Based on the WWII operation of the same name, Operation Mincemeat is heading to streaming next year with an entire cavalcade of U.K. talent.
The streamer may be more focused on bringing viewers its own in-house produced titles, but that doesn't mean the streaming service is moving away from British fare. Far from it, in fact. The service initially used the BBC library to help prop up its TV offerings, and with shows like The Crown and Bridgerton, it's well established that there's a built un anglophilic section of viewership.
The period piece was initially commissioned by Warner Bros. Pictures but has since moved to Netflix for American distribution. (Warner will distribute internationally.) The film, directed by Shakespeare In Love's John Madden, was meant as awards bait, giving Netflix another major topline film to promote. With a release date in early January, it's expected to be part of this year's coming awards-hopefuls.
Here's the film's synopsis:
Set in 1943, when the Allies are determined to launch an all-out assault on 'Fortress Europe,' the film will follow two brilliant intelligence officers, Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley, who dream up an inspired and improbable disinformation strategy to help the cause.
The ensemble cast that's the real showstopper here. Colin Firth (Pride and Prejudice) was tapped from the outset to play the real-life Ewen Montagu, who led the operation and wrote the book the film is based on, The Man Who Never Was. He'll be joined by Matthew Macfadyen (Succession) as Cholmondeley, Kelly Macdonald (Line of Duty), and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey). Additionally, Johnny Flynn (Emma) will play Ian Fleming, the man behind the James Bond novels.
The film costars Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Paul Ritter (Stranger Things), Lorne MacFadyen (Grantchester), Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery), Tom Wilkinson (Belgravia), Alexander Beyer (Silent Hunt), Hattie Morahan (The Bletchley Circle), Gabrielle Creevy (In My Skin), and Nicholas Rowe (Roadkill). Also, Simon Russell Beale (The Hollow Crown) will appear as Winston Churchill.
For those who think Operation Mincemeat sounds a bit like something out of a Monty Python sketch, let me assure you, it was not. The secret plan was a successful British deception operation to disguise the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. It involved taking a dead body and turning it into a fictitious U.K. Royal Marine captain whose corpse would turn up with plans that just so happened to confirm the Sicily operations were a feint.
The plan worked. The "neutral" Spanish government (who the U.K. knew were collaborating with the Nazis) picked up the body from the water and quietly shared the documents with the German government while making a big deal of returning the body to the U.K. Coming through such backchannels and believing the U.K. government knew nothing, the Germans fell for the ruse completely.
Operation Mincemeat is currently slated to stream starting Jan. 7, 2022.