Apple taps Oscar-winning studio behind 'Moonlight' to make feature films

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 15
Apple has made an agreement with independent studio A24 to produce films for the iPhone producer, movies which may be offered to consumers as part of Apple's long-rumored video streaming service that could launch in 2019.

Promotional image for the A24 movie
Promotional image for the A24 movie "Moonlight"


Few details of the deal between the two companies were provided in the announcement, but Variety advises it is a "multiyear agreement" for multiple films. It is also unknown if the films in question will be made available in a traditional theater release, or if they will be made available via streaming only.

While financial terms are also unclear, it is known that the partnership does not involve an exclusivity agreement for A24's output, nor any form of "first-look arrangement." This allows A24 to remain independent and produce other content without restriction, and to continue to meet existing deals it already has with Amazon and DirecTV for post-theatrical distribution.

Earlier rumors linked A24 to a potential acquisition by Apple, though evidently such a purchase has not yet happened.

A24 is a relatively new firm set against the backdrop of older studios, having been founded only in 2012. But when it comes to prestige, A24 is one of the great success stories in the history of the industry.

For the last three years, A24 has released a slate of films that has rivaled major Hollywood studios in terms of Oscar nominations and, increasingly, box office success. A24 doesn't specialize in established intellectual properties or high-budgeted extravaganzas like Disney does, but it has its niche -- prestige films that audiences, critics and awards voters love and has thrived within it.

"Moonlight," the Oscar Best Picture winner for 2016, was an A24 release. So was "Lady Bird," a 2017 sleeper hit that earned five Oscar nominations. "The Disaster Artist," "The Florida Project," "It Comes At Night," "The Witch" and "Ex Machina" are among other acclaimed A24 films just from the past three years.

A24 has sometimes teamed up with other major media companies for releases, but the company has remained a full-on independent entity for its entire existence.

Apple is rumored to be working on creating its own streaming video service to rival Netflix, Amazon, and others in the field. Current speculation suggests the supposed service could go live in early 2019, with one report claiming owners of Apple devices with the "TV" app preinstalled may be able to view the Apple-produced content for free, but with other subscription "channels" also available for third-party services.

It is believed Apple is spending at least $1 billion on its first wave of programming for the service, which will primarily consist of family-friendly content, and has already lined up a number of shows and movies it may be providing through the service. Notable items include a Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston untitled series based around a morning show, the Chris Evans-fronted "Defending Jacob," and a revival of Terry Gilliam's 1980 fantasy movie "Time Bandits" as a show.

The agreement arrives at a time when there are major consolidations within the media marketplace, including the approval of the AT&T acquisition of Time Warner and Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox, after outbidding Comcast. The streaming marketplace is also set to become tougher for Apple, as Disney has announced it will be launching its own streaming service branded Disney+ in late 2019.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    I don't know anything about "Moonlight", but recent movies "The Witch", "Ex Machina" and "Hereditary" were all outstanding. Low budget, but effective horror movies.

    Now, here's the question: Will Apple interfere with their projects or will they allow them to continue to make "grown-up" entertainment as they have been? If their movies are co-branded with Apple, they would definitely be off-brand. But "Beats" is also sort of off-brand insofar as they are associated with Dr. Dre, who was a member of NWA.
    edited November 15
  • Reply 2 of 12
    irelandireland Posts: 17,474member
    I don't know anything about "Moonlight", but recent movies "The Witch", "Ex Machina" and "Hereditary" were all outstanding. Low budget, but effective horror movies.
    Whatever anyone might think of the film Moonlight itself, it certainly shows the directing talents of a great young filmmaker, that’s for sure. Will be keeping a keen eye on Barry Jenkins future work. As for Ex Machina, it was good filmmaking, just not a great film. That kind of subject matter has been done more originally and satisfyingly in the likes of The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. The cinematography in Hereditary didn’t blow my hair back. And the plot was a bit shit. The Witch, I have not seen. Going to IMDb right now.
    edited November 15
  • Reply 3 of 12
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 52unconfirmed, member
    Haven't been impressed with the 2 Apple documentary films I've watched but Apple was probably just testing waters.

    The article mentions a theater release. I think that's great but does anyone remember the report that mentioned Apple may start releasing movies that are still in theaters with a high rental price?

    https://www.komando.com/happening-now/415016/apple-will-let-you-stream-new-movies-while-theyre-still-in-theaters

    What if, Apple produces high quality content and releases them on iTunes as "theater" releases? And skip traditional theaters altogether? With enough studio contracts/acquisitions, this would definitely disrupt the movie theater industry.

    Apple TV already supports 4K Dolby Vision and Atmos sound.

    I don't know anything about "Moonlight", but recent movies "The Witch", "Ex Machina" and "Hereditary" were all outstanding. Low budget, but effective horror movies.

    Now, here's the question: Will Apple interfere with their projects or will they allow them to continue to make "grown-up" entertainment as they have been? If their movies are co-branded with Apple, they would definitely be off-brand. But "Beats" is also sort of off-brand insofar as they are associated with Dr. Dre, who was a member of NWA.
    Good question but here's a new question:

    Do you think Apple would hire a studio skilled at films for an older audience only to assign them to some family friendly production?

    I don't see this happening. I believe Apple will hire studios skilled in categories for production in their genre.

  • Reply 4 of 12
    ireland said:
    I don't know anything about "Moonlight", but recent movies "The Witch", "Ex Machina" and "Hereditary" were all outstanding. Low budget, but effective horror movies.
    Whatever anyone might think of the film Moonlight itself, it certainly shows the directing talents of a great young filmmaker, that’s for sure. Will be keeping a keen eye on Barry Jenkins future work. As for Ex Machina, it was good filmmaking, just not a great film. That kind of subject matter has been done more originally and satisfyingly in the likes of The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. The cinematography in Hereditary didn’t blow my hair back. And the plot was a bit shit. The Witch, I have not seen. Going to IMDb right now.
    I found The Witch particularly effective due to the use of period-correct character dialogue.
    radarthekat
  • Reply 5 of 12
    I don't know anything about "Moonlight", but recent movies "The Witch", "Ex Machina" and "Hereditary" were all outstanding. Low budget, but effective horror movies.

    Now, here's the question: Will Apple interfere with their projects or will they allow them to continue to make "grown-up" entertainment as they have been? If their movies are co-branded with Apple, they would definitely be off-brand. But "Beats" is also sort of off-brand insofar as they are associated with Dr. Dre, who was a member of NWA.
    All Apple should do is create a subsidiary where the brand can produce films from G to rated R.

    Former Disney Subsidiaries and now rebranded

    Touchstone Pictures/Touchstone Television, etc., -> ABC Studios
    Hollywood Pictures
    Miramax Films
    Dimension Films
    etc.

    radarthekat
  • Reply 6 of 12
    irelandireland Posts: 17,474member
    ireland said:
    I don't know anything about "Moonlight", but recent movies "The Witch", "Ex Machina" and "Hereditary" were all outstanding. Low budget, but effective horror movies.
    Whatever anyone might think of the film Moonlight itself, it certainly shows the directing talents of a great young filmmaker, that’s for sure. Will be keeping a keen eye on Barry Jenkins future work. As for Ex Machina, it was good filmmaking, just not a great film. That kind of subject matter has been done more originally and satisfyingly in the likes of The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. The cinematography in Hereditary didn’t blow my hair back. And the plot was a bit shit. The Witch, I have not seen. Going to IMDb right now.
    I found The Witch particularly effective due to the use of period-correct character dialogue.
    I’ll give it a spin, so.
  • Reply 7 of 12
    ireland said:
    ireland said:
    I don't know anything about "Moonlight", but recent movies "The Witch", "Ex Machina" and "Hereditary" were all outstanding. Low budget, but effective horror movies.
    Whatever anyone might think of the film Moonlight itself, it certainly shows the directing talents of a great young filmmaker, that’s for sure. Will be keeping a keen eye on Barry Jenkins future work. As for Ex Machina, it was good filmmaking, just not a great film. That kind of subject matter has been done more originally and satisfyingly in the likes of The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. The cinematography in Hereditary didn’t blow my hair back. And the plot was a bit shit. The Witch, I have not seen. Going to IMDb right now.
    I found The Witch particularly effective due to the use of period-correct character dialogue.
    I’ll give it a spin, so.
    (Thumbs Up Emoji goes here)
  • Reply 8 of 12
    As some director somewhere said.."everybody in the world has two jobs; first, how they pay their rent and second, being a film critic. Now I fear our armchair film experts will join the ranks of old time Apple aficionados who pick apart every tiny move Apple makes,  and evaluate every film Apple produces and distributes for writing/directing/dp/editing/snd...etc..etc..etc. The guys at A24 seem to, at least so far, have things right. Last seven or eight films have grossed 300M+ with total budget of 40M and couple of dozen Oscar noms, if those things count in ppls scorecard, but about being a 'good' film, leave that to everyones second job in life.
    AppleExposedOfer
  • Reply 9 of 12
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,778member
    I don't know anything about "Moonlight", but recent movies "The Witch", "Ex Machina" and "Hereditary" were all outstanding. Low budget, but effective horror movies.

    Now, here's the question: Will Apple interfere with their projects or will they allow them to continue to make "grown-up" entertainment as they have been? If their movies are co-branded with Apple, they would definitely be off-brand. But "Beats" is also sort of off-brand insofar as they are associated with Dr. Dre, who was a member of NWA.
    Yes, my thoughts too.  I love all things Apple usually but I also love GOT and WestWorld, neither of which would ever be considered by Apple I am guessing.  Which makes me think I won't be racing to sign up for this Apple particular service as I have for most of them. I'll wait and see.  Maybe as you say Apple might have an alternative channel (dare I say for adults?).
    Ofer
  • Reply 10 of 12
    ThIs sounds like great news. The A24 movies I’ve seen in recent years (Moonlight, Ladybird, The Florida Project) have all been excellent, and I’ve heard good things about some of the ones I haven’t seen yet. 

    I love some of the HBO series too, but as long as AT&T doesn’t ruin everything, I see no harm in HBO doing what they do best while Apple does something different. 
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 11 of 12
    irelandireland Posts: 17,474member
    As some director somewhere said.."everybody in the world has two jobs; first, how they pay their rent and second, being a film critic. Now I fear our armchair film experts will join the ranks of old time Apple aficionados who pick apart every tiny move Apple makes,  and evaluate every film Apple produces and distributes for writing/directing/dp/editing/snd...etc..etc..etc. The guys at A24 seem to, at least so far, have things right. Last seven or eight films have grossed 300M+ with total budget of 40M and couple of dozen Oscar noms, if those things count in ppls scorecard, but about being a 'good' film, leave that to everyones second job in life.
    Username checks out ;-)
  • Reply 12 of 12
    MacPro said:
    I don't know anything about "Moonlight", but recent movies "The Witch", "Ex Machina" and "Hereditary" were all outstanding. Low budget, but effective horror movies.

    Now, here's the question: Will Apple interfere with their projects or will they allow them to continue to make "grown-up" entertainment as they have been? If their movies are co-branded with Apple, they would definitely be off-brand. But "Beats" is also sort of off-brand insofar as they are associated with Dr. Dre, who was a member of NWA.
    Yes, my thoughts too.  I love all things Apple usually but I also love GOT and WestWorld, neither of which would ever be considered by Apple I am guessing.  Which makes me think I won't be racing to sign up for this Apple particular service as I have for most of them. I'll wait and see.  Maybe as you say Apple might have an alternative channel (dare I say for adults?).
    Incidentally, iTunes’ Twitter account tweeted this out today. “A Clockwork Orange” is a strange, but very adult movie for them to be promoting close to Thanksgiving:


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