Apple may be teaming up with movie studios in a $1 billion-a-year effort to release more movies in theaters. Apple’s original films have either had limited releases in theaters or have been made available only on Apple TV+. So, the possible investment represents a big increase and a strategic shift for the streamer.
Bloomberg, which broke the story, cites unnamed sources as saying that Apple’s plans haven’t been completed yet. Yet, the company’s goal is to have the films play in thousands of theaters for at least a month.
Apple, however, refused to speak with TechCrunch. As with Bloomberg, the corporation has chosen not to comment.
Bloomberg included the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring Martin Scorsese film “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon,” and the James Bond-esque “Argylle” as potential upcoming releases.
According to 9to5Mac, Apple paid Paramount over $200 million for the production rights to the Scorsese feature a few years ago, making the film a bit of an outlier. For a limited time, “Killers of the Flower Moon” will be shown in theaters throughout the world courtesy of Paramount before making its world premiere on Apple TV+.
If Apple goes ahead with the proposal, it might make the streamer more of a direct rival to existing providers. For instance, Amazon, which purchased MGM in 2022, is rumored to be planning annual theater spending of $1 billion and annual production of 12-15 theatrical blockbusters.
Warner Bros. Discovery has announced plans to expand its theatrical release of exclusive titles. According to CEO David Zaslav on the February earnings call, the decision was made because the firm found little value in releasing movies as exclusives on HBO Max. Both Paramount and Disney plan to increase the number of films they send to movie theaters.
Theatrical releases promote both the title and the streaming service, thus the anticipated expenditure would undoubtedly bring Apple TV+ more users. Those who are unable to see a film in a cinema often wait for it to become available on a streaming service. Between 20 and 40 million users are expected to subscribe to Apple TV+, according to industry experts.
The only streaming service to receive an Academy Award is Apple TV+. In 2021, the firm acquired “CODA” at the Sundance Film Festival for $25 million and went on to win an Academy Award for it the following year. The movie only made roughly $1.9 million at the box office despite having simultaneous theatrical and Apple TV+ distribution.
The domestic box office is projected to reach $9 billion in 2023, a small improvement from the current year.