Seems like every news organization has “inside sources” — Fast Company has some saying that following the big splash of Tom Hanks’ Greyhound on AppleTV+ they want to buy 2-4 of these type blockbuster movies a year.
Going forward, one source says the streamer is discussing plans to release a dozen new movies a year on Apple TV Plus, roughly one a month. Two to four of those would be blockbuster-type titles such as Greyhound and Emancipation, the runaway-slave thriller starring Will Smith and directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) that Apple recently acquired for $120 million in a bidding war with Warner Bros., Universal, and other studios. Another source had fewer specifics but confirmed that Apple is telling Hollywood that it’s now in the market for more tentpole-like feature films. (Apple would not comment for this story.)Apple eyes new streaming strategy after Tom Hanks drama breaks records
Simple math suggests, if this is true (big “if” there), could cost upwards of $500+ million. I’m sharing this article here because my confidence in this is pretty high. Apple has the cash to throw around and it fits their historic corporate culture rather than dive into something, they pick and choose.
When Martin Scorsese needed to score some more greenbacks to finish his latest movie, who did he approach? (see: Apple Might Bail Out Budget of Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon) Yes, Apple.
Under Steve Jobs, rest his soul, this would be exactly the way they’d get into the movie business. It’s what he did with music. Jobs didn’t want to have a subscription plan like Spotify, he wanted to sell tracks for a buck each and so they did — they sold tons of them. Eventually this model would lose out to Spotify, but they made a boatload of cash in the interim.
If you compare the business types, that’s kind of what Apple is doing right now with AppleTV+. They don’t want to pay to rent licenses of movies for subscribers on a license, they want to take a piece of the pie to sell or rent monthly movies only and create their own originals.
The problem is Apple is so far behind Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Hulu, Peacock, that they may never catch up buying and/or creating a mere dozen or so movies a year.
10 years = 120 movies
20 years = 240 movies
That isn’t going to build them a sizable enough library of originals to keep members subscribed. Sure, there are buying TV series, documentaries, miniseries, too (they just bought Werner Herzog’s new documentary “Fireball” according to MacRumors), but will it add up to what Netflix is releasing?
Netflix currently releases around 50+ originals a month. Most are TV shows, documentaries, miniseries, etc, but they offer a fair number of movies each month on average. This original content is on top of the existing library they are paying for of rotating movies. An argument could be made that Netflix doesn’t even need the rotating movies from other studios any more. You can’t say that about any other service of originals except maybe, possibly HBO, that also has an impressive catalog of original programming created since the 70s.
Quality-control is something we’ve questioned recently (see: Does Netflix Release Too Many Originals? Maybe Ask New CMO Bozoma Saint John) so quantity isn’t everything. The problem with AppleTV+ at this moment in time is their cupboards, content-wise, are too bare to justify an ongoing subscription compared to other competing streaming services.
It seems Apple believes this and wants to go grocery shopping on the theatrical movie aisle. So, if you’re a movie studio with a delayed title and contemplating taking it to streaming, Apple has arrived with multiple suitcases filled with cash.
Unfortunately, Apple aren’t the only ones who want to buy these theatrical releases. Netflix, Amazon, WarnerMedia/HBO, NBCUniversal/Peacock … perhaps to a lesser extent even Disney might cough up a few bones (although they seem less likely to be buying other movies, when they have a bunch of their own content in the pipeline).
The studios with finished movies, waiting for release dates will continue to have this option: sell to the highest streaming channel bidder. I’m sure every studio has Apple programmed on speed dial.