Apple investing $1 billion to bring its movies to theatres: report

Apple is said to want to create a "cultural event" out of big-budget movies like Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon

Apple is planning to spend $1 billion USD (about $1.36 billion CAD) per year on theatrical movies, according to Bloomberg.

The goal, says the outlet, is for Apple to grow its presence in Hollywood and bring in more subscribers to Apple TV+.

To date, Apple has reportedly spent billions on original programming, but it’s primarily been focused on streaming TV shows for Apple TV+. This includes buzzworthy series like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show and Severance. The service’s catalogue offers a handful of original films, like Greyhound, Finch and the Oscar-winning CODA, but otherwise, it’s all about shows.

Apple has also only given some of these films a small, limited theatrical release — just long enough to make them eligible for awards like the Oscars, which require movies to play in cinemas. As part of this new $1 billion annual investment, Apple will seek distributors to bring its original films to thousands of theatres. So far, these plans include Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon and Argyle from Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn.

Bloomberg notes that Apple is spending hundreds of millions on Killers of the Flower Moon, in particular, so it wants to turn that into a “cultural event.” The company’s film ambitions have also reportedly only expanded after CODA won Best Picture last year, beating out Netflix to become the first streamer to take home the Oscars’ top honour.

Currently, Apple is said to only be having discussions with distributors, as it still needs to work out fees and other specifics. As Bloomberg points out, these distributors will all have their own cuts to take; for instance, Paramount will release Killers of the Flower Moon in theatres for a 10 percent fee. Apple will also have to spend on promoting these movies, since theatrical releases require more expansive marketing strategies than smaller, streaming-only titles.

Apple’s expanded theatrical approach would be quite distinct from Netflix, which has historically only released select movies in cinemas for a limited time. Last year, the company made the rare move to play Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery in a small number of theatres one month before it came to Netflix, but that was the exception rather than the rule.

“We’re in the business of entertaining our members with Netflix movies on Netflix,” Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos said during an earnings call last year. He noted that theatrical releases were generally only given because the filmmakers demanded it.

“There [are] all kinds of debates all the time, back-and-forth, but there’s no question internally that we make our movies for our members and we really want them to watch them on Netflix,” he added.

It remains to be seen how, exactly, Apple will approach theatrical movies. The company hasn’t yet commented on this report, and we also don’t yet know when films like Killers of the Flower Moon will even release.

Image credit: Apple

Source: Bloomberg