As has been widely reported, Apple plans to spend $1 billion a year to produce movies that will be released in theatres. All the stories quote knowledgeable people familiar with the company’s plans. Apple has reportedly approached movie studios about partnering to release a few titles in theatres this year and a slate of films in coming years, according to those people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private.
The list of potential releases includes Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio; the spy thriller Argylle, from director Matthew Vaughn; and Napoleon, Ridley Scott’s drama about the French conqueror.
The investment is a significant increase. Most of Apple’s previous original movies have either been exclusive to the streaming service or released in a limited number of theatres. The company has pledged to put movies in thousands of theatres for at least a month, although no plans have been finalized.
Previously, Apple has agreed to theatrical releases to please creatives or to outmaneuver competitors for projects. the company also believes theatrical releases will help build awareness for its TV+ streaming service. Apple TV+ is estimated to have as many as 40 million subscribers, fewer than rivals such as Netflix and Disney+.
Apple apparently still hasn’t figured out how it will distribute movies in theatres, the sources said. The company doesn’t have the expertise internally to release movies in thousands of cinemas worldwide at once, which is why it has approached third-party distributors. But first, Apple needs to come to terms on distribution fees and marketing budgets with potential partners. Movie studios can spend $100 million or more to market their biggest titles, far more than streaming services spend promoting new shows or movies.