Tom Hanks’ World War II procedural ‘Greyhound’ gave Apple TV Plus its first bona fide blockbuster hit. Now executives are looking to double down, insiders say, on feature films.
According to sources familiar with Apple’s thinking, the success of Hanks’s World War II drama Greyhound (which he both wrote and starred in) has catalyzed Apple’s ambitions in feature films, which are now being amped up to (almost) Netflix-like levels.
Going forward, one source says the streamer is discussing plans to release a dozen new movies a year on Apple TV Plus, roughly one a month. Two to four of those would be blockbuster-type titles such as Greyhound and Emancipation, the runaway-slave thriller starring Will Smith and directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) that Apple recently acquired for $120 million in a bidding war with Warner Bros., Universal, and other studios. Another source had fewer specifics but confirmed that Apple is telling Hollywood that it’s now in the market for more tentpole-like feature films…
This would be a dramatic pivot for Apple. When the company launched Apple TV Plus to much fanfare and hullabaloo last November, movies were something of an afterthought—unlike its TV strategy, which was crystal clear… What was the company’s point of view, exactly? As one film agent puts it, “They’re more confusing than Netflix. I know what Netflix wants and doesn’t want. [Apple hasn’t] come out to the agencies and said, ‘We need these kinds of movies.’ I think they’re much more specific on the TV side.”
Then came Greyhound…
Apple, of course, wouldn’t divulge numbers, Deadline reported that the film “turned in a viewing audience commensurate with a summer theatrical box office big hit.” Beyond being the biggest opening weekend ever for Apple TV Plus, 30% of those who watched it were new subscribers.
MacDailyNews Take: How much does it cost to see a blockbuster feature film in a theater? Contrast that with getting them piped into your home monthly via Apple TV+ for $4.99 a month.
Those who can wrap their heads around Apple’s massive cash mountain and the company’s unparalleled ability to generate cash can clearly see who the winner will be. The most talented producers, writers, directors, editors, actors, etc. are attracted to exactly what Apple has and makes in vast abundance: Cash. The king. Like bears to honey, it’s happening already. — MacDailyNews, January 3, 2018
The ever-growing list of creatives with deals at Apple TV+ include Idris Elba, Oprah Winfrey, Alfonso Cuarón, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Justin Lin, The Morning Show‘s Kerry Ehrin, Jason Katims, Little America showrunner Lee Eisenberg, Monica Beletsky, Sharon Horgan, Dickinson creator Alena Smith and Simon Kinberg. Apple also has deals with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions, A24, Imagine Documentaries, Sesame Workshop and Peanuts.