Apple may be partnering with studios to put more titles in theaters, a plan that could cost $1 billion a year. Typically, Apple’s original movies have either received small theatrical runs or been exclusive to Apple TV+. So, the potential investment would be a notable increase and signals a major shift in the streamer’s strategy.
According to Bloomberg, which reported the news, anonymous sources say that the Apple plans aren’t finalized yet. However, the company wants to put films in thousands of theaters for at least one month.
Apple declined to comment to TechCrunch. The company also declined to comment to Bloomberg.
Some possible releases, Bloomberg wrote, include Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio; Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” and the spy thriller “Argylle.”
However, the Scorsese film is somewhat separate, reported 9to5Mac, as Apple apparently paid about $200 million on the production rights from Paramount a couple of years ago. Paramount will distribute “Killers of the Flower Moon” to cinemas worldwide for a few months before the title premieres exclusively on Apple TV+.
If Apple were to move forward with the plan, it could put the streamer in closer competition with other streaming services. For instance, Amazon, which acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 2022, also reportedly plans to spend $1 billion per year on movies for theaters and aims to produce between 12 and 15 theatrical releases annually.
Warner Bros. Discovery recently shared that it intends to release more exclusive titles in theaters. This is because the company found that releasing movies as exclusives on HBO Max didn’t provide any value, CEO David Zaslav said during the February earnings call to shareholders. Paramount and Disney also aim to ramp up their production of movies for theaters.
Plus, the potential investment would likely bring Apple TV+ more subscribers since theatrical releases help promote both the title and also the streaming service. People that can’t make it to the theater typically wait until the movie appears on streaming services. Analysts predict that Apple TV+ has somewhere between 20 million and 40 million subscribers.
Apple TV+ is the only streaming service so far to win the Oscar for Best Picture. In 2021, the company won the Oscar for “CODA,” which it acquired at the Sundance Film Festival for $25 million. The film was distributed simultaneously in theaters and Apple TV+, only getting about $1.9 million at the box office.
The film industry appears to be slightly improving this year, with the 2023 domestic box office estimated to reach $9 billion.