The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has impacted Hollywood, and just about every other market, in negative ways, but it has also brought up an opportunity for major streaming services like Apple TV+.
Major theatrical delays aren’t good for businesses like Sony and other production companies, and unless there’s a huge deal preventing those films from seeing day-one video on demand (VOD) release, there’s nothing stopping those companies from trying to get the film out in some way or another to recuperate the money spent to bring it in front of viewer eyeballs. That’s why some companies have opted to release films straight to the home, like the world premiere of Trolls: World Tour on VOD rather than in theaters.
Universal, the production company behind the Trolls sequel, also released a variety of other films, including The Hunt and The Invisible Man and Emma for home rental much earlier than normal, all to capitalize on the fact people were home, and those films may have a compacted theatrical run in some markets.
Here we are today and Apple is looking to capitalize on its previous success.
Sony was looking to move the Tom Hanks-starring World War II film Greyhound because it was obvious that the shutdown of theaters was going to extend well beyond Father’s Day (mid-June), which meant the film –which Hanks also wrote– would have a considerable delay. Instead of doing that, Sony put the film up for auction and the streaming services launched a major bidding war. Ultimately, Apple won out, and Greyound launched on Apple TV+ not too long ago.
While Apple isn’t going into any major detail about the numbers, a recent report from Deadline said that Greyhound had become the biggest opening weekend release for Apple TV+, and, based on the numbers, saw an opening weekend “commensurate with a summer theatrical box office big hit”. The World War II action drama saw a lot of new subscribers signing up to watch the film, too, with upwards of 30% those who watched the film on opening weekend reportedly new to the service.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising to hear that Apple wants to capitalize while it can. Fast Company has a report out on Friday detailing Apple’s “new streaming strategy” following the success of Greyhound. The gist? Apple wants more blockbuster films. According to the report, Apple’s intentions for Apple TV+ as far as major theatrical films are concerned has grown to “Netflix-like levels” (which is honestly hard to imagine), and, as a result, the company will be putting a bigger focus on acquiring big-name films on the same level as Greyhound.
Indeed, the report says that Apple has made it known to those in the industry that it is on the hunt for “tent-pole features”, and the company could be gearing up to launch a new blockbuster film on a regular basis. One per month, according to the sources. Up to 12 a year!
Still, one source said that Apple is still looking to heavily curate Apple TV+ content, because while it might have as eyes as big as saucers right now and wants to reach “Netflix-like levels”, it doesn’t want to weigh down Apple TV+ with a hodgepodge of genres and a sheer number of films (or series) released at one time. Apple wants to make sure that finding content on Apple TV+ is not ridiculously difficult like it can be on Netflix. But, given time and with more content being released, one would imagine this would be an issue eventually, right?
This is good news, because there are a lot of films waiting in the wings due to the coronavirus pandemic that Apple could acquire and release on Apple TV+. Not to mention the original content that Apple is developing, or the films that the company has acquired from major film festivals (which have gone digital this year). For example, Apple TV+ will debut the Antoine Fuqua-directed and Will Smith-starring Emancipation, an action-thriller telling the story of a slave on the run from the Confederate army.
(On a personal note: Hey, Apple, do me a solid and acquire the film Antlers, okay? This horror film looks amazing and was originally supposed to release in April. I’d like to watch it now, please and thank you.)
If all of this pans out and Apple does start acquiring films even faster than it has been, we could be on the brink of a lot of major news in this regard soon enough.
Too bad Apple TV+ can’t secure Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.