Apple is planning to expand its movie production output by investing $1 billion annually to produce films, according to a report. These movies would get an in-person theatrical release.
According to “people familiar with the company’s plans,” cited by Bloomberg, the goal of this project would be to get more subscribers to its streaming service, Apple TV+. So far, the service doesn’t have as many subscribers as Netflix and Disney+, the outlet said.
Netflix led the streaming service boom starting in the 2000s, per Business Insider, and is known for series such as “Stranger Things” as well as movies such as “The Irishman”, directed by Martin Scorsese. It released director Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story” in select theatres last year, but has been at odds with movie theaters about how to release films in theatres, according to CNBC.
Disney+ launched in 2019. It capitalizes on the company’s collection of Disney, Marvel and Star Wars film catalogues, along with original projects related to those franchises, and more.
Apple has released films, including the Oscar-winning 2021 film “CODA” and projects with Tom Hanks and Will Smith, and has released some in limited theatres. Its streaming service is more known for series such as “Ted Lasso” and “Shrinking.”
According to Bloomberg, the $1 billion annual investment in films is “part of an ambitious effort to raise its profile in Hollywood and lure subscribers to its streaming service,” which has around 20 million to 40 million subscribers.
Already, the company has reached out to movie studios about releasing titles in theatres this year, said the outlet’s sources, who asked not to be identified. Scorsese is expected to help fill the Apple film roster with “Killers of the Flower Moon”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Other potential titles mentioned by Bloomberg include spy thriller “Argylle” from director Matthew Vaughn, and “Napoleon” Ridley Scott’s drama about the French conqueror.
“A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment,” said Bloomberg. However, the anonymous sources said that Apple “has pledged to put movies in thousands of theaters for at least a month.”
Since Apple has not engaged in wide-scale film distribution before, the outlet said it is expected to rely on third parties for distribution and marketing. According to Bloomberg, movie studios can spend $100 million or more on marketing for large films.
“Apple’s plans will boost theater chains still struggling to recover from the pandemic,” said the outlet.” Ticket sales remain about a third below 2019 levels and two of the largest chains are on shaky financial footing.”
“This is a huge deal and I think it totally validates the idea that the movie theatre is here to stay,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for the box office tracking company at Comscore in Los Angeles in an interview with Audacy’s WBBM Newsradio in Chicago. “I repeat – the movie theatre is here to stay.”