World War II Drama 'Operation Mincemeat' Will Stream on Netflix in May

Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley and Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu in Operation Mincemeat
Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley and Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu in 'Operation Mincemeat' (Giles Keyte/Netflix)

The last time we heard about the forthcoming film Operation Mincemeat, it was scheduled to stream on Netflix just after the new year. Based on the true story of one of Britain's most successful World War II ploys, the had its official debut in November at the 2021 British Film Festival in Australia. But with omicron surging and audience attendance plunging, the film was pushed back on the schedule to spring. The new release date for the U.K. in theaters will be April 22, with the film to drop in limited release in U.S. theaters and streaming here in the states in May 2022.

The project was initially announced at Cannes 2019, with Colin Firth (Pride and Prejudice) starring as the real-life Ewen Montagu, who led the operation and wrote the book the film is based on, The Man Who Never Was. (The book was previously adapted into the BAFTA-winning film of the same name.) The new version is directed by The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel's John Madden. Production began in December 2019 but wound up on hold during the pandemic. Filming was completed in the spring of 2021, with Warner Bros. (who has international distribution rights) hoping to release in time for the 2022 awards season. The push down to an April/May release now suggests it could be a dark horse for next year.

"Operation Mincemeat" might sound like satirical fiction but is based on the true story of how the British government fooled Hitler, based on a plan conceived by Rear Admiral John Godfrey and Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming. (Fleming is famous for inventing James Bond; Bond's boss, M, is said to be based on Godfrey.) It began with turning a dead homeless man into the fictitious Acting Major William Martin, whose drowned corpse washing up on the shore of Spain planted with fake confidential paperwork claiming the coming 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily was a feint. Knowing the Spanish government had multiple Nazi collaborators, the hope was these documents would make their way to the German government and Hitler.

The film's synopsis is as follows:

Hoping to change the course of World War II and save tens of thousands of lives, two intelligence officers plot to break Hitler's deadly grip on Europe by recruiting the most unlikely of secret agents: a dead man.

The ensemble cast is an all-star lineup. Firth is joined by Jason Isaacs (The Great) as Godfrey, Johnny Flynn (Emma) as Fleming, and Simon Russell Beale (The Hollow Crown) as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The film also stars Matthew Macfadyen (Succession), Kelly Macdonald (Line of Duty), Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Paul Ritter (The Capture), and Lorne MacFadyen (Grantchester). The movie's co-stars include Tom Wilkinson (Belgravia), Alexander Beyer (War and Peace), Hattie Morahan (The Bletchley Circle), Gabrielle Creevy (In My Skin), and Nicholas Rowe (Roadkill).

Operation Mincemeat officially opens in limited release in the U.S. in select theaters this May and streams on Netflix beginning Wednesday, May 11, 2022.