Apple TV+ Movies in Theaters

While Netflix is still arguing with theater chains about the length of the theatrical window for some of their original movies, Apple is looking to take a route similar to Amazon Prime Video. The tech company’s new streaming service will release some of their forthcoming original films in theaters before sending them to their exclusive streaming home on Apple TV+, and they’ve already been talking with theater chains about making it happen.

Netflix has been hellbent on shaking up the traditional theatrical release model for years, always opting for a release of just a few weeks instead of the usual three months. It’s been pissing of the major theater chains, and most recently it resulted in Martin Scorsese’s new movie The Irishman not getting as wide of a release as hoped. It will still play in plenty of theaters, but chains like AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark won’t be involved. Apple doesn’t want to deal with that.

The Wall Street Journal says Apple hopes to play nice with movie theater representatives by following in the steps of Amazon, who have released plenty of movies in theaters for a full, proper theatrical run before pushing them exclusively to their Amazon Prime Video streaming service that comes along with the Amazon Prime membership. Leading the charge are co-heads of video programming, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, and they’re getting some help from Greg Foster, the former head of entertainment at IMAX, who is working with them as a consultant.

One of Apple’s theatrical offerings will be On the Rocks from director Sofia Coppola, the first movie in Apple’s partnership with indie arthouse distributor A24 (check out a couple photos over at WSJ). The film follows Rashida Jones (The Office) as a woman looking to reconnect with her eccentric, estranged father, played by Bill Murray. Apple hopes to release the movie sometime in the summer of 2020 with the hopes that it might play at the Cannes Film Festival before that. However, it sounds like Apple might send a movie to theaters even earlier.

The Elephant Queen is a documentary from Apple that follows an elephant leading her herd across Africa. The film is already slated to be one of the launch titles available on Apple TV+ when the service debuts on November 1, but they also want to give it a theatrical release in order to be eligible for awards consideration. So not all of Apple’s movies will be destined for a traditional theatrical release.

Unlike the major studios who release movies in theaters to rake in the box office dollars, Apple is said to be “more interested in the prestige and brand-building that can come with a glitzy theatrical release.” They want to give themselves a reputation for releasing certain kinds of movies,. Releasing some films in theaters will help give them a little more credibility when those movies come to the streaming service, which is something that Netflix has had trouble with when it comes to many of their original movies.

It remains to be seen if Apple TV+ will have the goods to create a large subscriber base. J.J. Abrams recently turned down a massive deal with the company, and one of the big reasons was because Apple doesn’t have a library of established intellectual property to play with. Subscribers might feel the same way, especially with all the other content already offered up by Netflix and Hulu, not to mention the forthcoming streaming services like Disney+ and HBO Max.

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