By Charles Pulliam-Moore, a reporter focusing on film, TV, and pop culture. Before The Verge, he wrote about comic books, labor, race, and more at io9 and Gizmodo for almost five years.
CODA aside, Apple TV Plus has yet to really become synonymous with hit movies the way the company clearly wants it to. But rather than simply acquiring the distribution rights to more promising projects, Apple’s next move to boost its streaming platform’s profile involves making a bigger push into physical theaters in coming years.
Bloomberg reports that Apple has plans to spend $1 billion annually to produce more original films that will have theatrical releases in thousands of cinemas running for a month at a minimum — a move meant to get audiences used to thinking of Apple Studios and Apple TV Plus as serious players in the movie game. While no plans have been finalized or announced just yet, Apple — which is relatively new to the business of releasing its projects in cinemas at scale — is said to have been in talks with other studios about partnerships intended to ease the logistical process.
Matthew Vaughn’s thriller Argylle, starring Dua Lipa and Henry Cavill, and Ridley Scott’s Napoleon historical drama, starring Joaquin Phoenix, are reportedly being considered for the first wave of Apple features that would run for a month at minimum in theaters. This wouldn’t be the first time Apple’s put its pictures in traditional theaters, and Amazon recently announced its own intention to invest $1 billion annually in films that will have theatrical releases. But the reports come at a time when streamers across the board have been reassessing their content spending in order to work toward sustainable profitability, and competitor Netflix has signaled that it might not be ready to go all in on theaters.
It’s difficult to know whether Apple’s movies debuting in theaters would inspire droves of new subscribers to sign up for Apple TV plus. But it’s easy to imagine how more traditional releases might help solidify the company in the public’s mind as a “real” studio whose new projects give people a reason to head to the cineplex.
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