Apple Plans Theatrical Runs for Movies Before Their Streaming Debut: Reports


Apple plans to give its feature-length film productions extended theatrical releases before making them available on its streaming TV service, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal said that by pursuing deals that would see major projects screened for weeks in theatres, the iPhone maker hopes to make it easier to attract big-name directors and producers.

Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, starring Bill Murray and produced in partnership with “Moonlight” producers A24, will be among Apple’s first major theatrical releases in mid-2020, it said.

Separately, Los Angeles Times reported, citing Apple, that the company will release The Banker, The Elephant Queen, and Hala in cinemas weeks before their debut on Apple TV+.

“Wildlife documentary “The Elephant Queen” will open in select cities Oct. 18 before it debuts Nov. 1 on Apple TV+, the company said. Coming-of-age story “Hala” arrives in limited release Nov. 22 before premiering on streaming in December, while Samuel L. Jackson’s “The Banker” hits cinemas Dec. 6 before launching on Apple TV+ in January,” Los Angeles Times wrote.

Apple, a late entrant to the streaming war, plans to launch Apple TV+ on Nov. 1 for $5 (roughly Rs. 350) a month to compete with rivals such as Netflix and Walt Disney’s upcoming streaming offering, Disney+.

Both the rivals have deeper libraries and years of experience in making hit shows, but have taken varying approaches to how they release content.

Netflix last year started debuting original films like “Roma”, “Bird Box” and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” for limited runs in theatres, before bringing them on to the streaming service.

But it has struggled to come to terms with major theatre chains, who would rather have films like Martin Scorsese’s upcoming “The Irishman” be screened months before they are released online.

In a victory for Netflix and other streaming services, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted this year not to change its rules to demand Oscar nominees must play in theatres for a minimum period.

Some prominent directors have also objected to the idea that their movies would be seen mostly on the small screen and Apple’s move may help it compete with Hollywood studios for talent.

The iPhone maker is spending $2 billion (roughly Rs. 14,135 crores) on original content this year, but is still dwarfed by Netflix, which has a reported $10 billion (roughly Rs. 70,675 crores) budget for content and 151 million paid subscribers, as well as the major studios.

Apple did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Shares of the company were trading down marginally at $218.55 (roughly Rs. 15,400) in afternoon trading.



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