Apple plots theatrical releases of Apple TV+ films before streaming release

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited September 27
Apple will be making some of the movies it commissions for Apple TV+ available to view at cinemas, a report claims, with the streaming service seemingly following in the footsteps of rivals Amazon and Netflix by pushing for a theatrical release of its films.

Sofia Coppola, director of Apple and A24 movie collaboration 'On the Rocks' starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones
Sofia Coppola, director of Apple and A24 movie collaboration 'On the Rocks' starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones


Apple as a number of feature-length films in production, with a view to airing them on Apple TV+. However, rather than going directly to the small screen, Apple may instead get the movies into theaters for a few weeks, before being made available to view via the streaming service.

Sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal claim Apple has been in talks with cinema chains and consulted with an entertainment executive on the theatrical release plan. It is thought the early outreach to the theater industry will help it attract major directors and producers to its productions.

The scheme is similar to techniques used by Amazon and Netflix to get their films to a wider audience, and not just its subscribers, though with somewhat different results.

Netflix has apparently caused tension by asking theaters to release its movies at the same time they are available on the streaming service, while theaters typically insist films do not become available online until at least three months after their theatrical debut. Discussions about showing contenders for film awards have reportedly fallen apart over the exclusivity issue.

Amazon is somewhat more forgiving on exclusivity, with major films like "Manchester by the Sea" being given a three-month window while smaller titles have a two-week theater run. It is believed Apple's negotiation plan is more like Amazon's than Netflix.

If the report is true, this could mean productions like the collaboration with A24 on the Sophia Coppola-directed "On the Rocks" will make it to theaters.

The theatrical releases are apparently not being viewed as a money-earning opportunity, but rather one to build prestige and the Apple TV+ brand. Having a theatrical release plan will also help Apple in negotiations with directors, such as the reported $500 million bid for "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams, one which ultimately failed with Abrams going to WarnerMedia in a deal worth half the amount.

Launching on November 1, Apple TV+ will provide a wide variety of original TV shows and movies to subscribers at $4.99 per month. Customers who buy select Apple products will be eligible to use the service free for a year.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    CarmboCarmbo Posts: 21unconfirmed, member
    It doesn't matter all that much if a film is available three months after or pretty much immediately available for streaming while offered in theatres. Most likely anyone going to see it in a theatre is either not an AppleTV+ subscriber or wants to enjoy the film in a theatre setting. In either case, that the film is available for streaming is beside the point. 

    You might be able to argue that a few weeks in theatres prior to streaming availability might draw in that percentage of folks who simply have to see the film ASAP but waiting months to launch streaming is of no value because that group who have to see the film as quickly as possible would not be waiting months to see the film. If more than a few weeks in you haven't gone to see it, you're either not interested or are fine with waiting for streaming availabilty. 

    It makes sense to offer up films worthy of theatre distribution for that distribution in addition to offering streaming access in that there is potential for additional revenue. Being as such material would represent a small portion of the offerings that a service like AppleTV+ would provide, there is no great risk that bringing such films to theatres would reduce take-up of AppleTV+. Meanwhile, theatre access, I would think, ought to be dictated the same way it is dictated for any theatre offering. If people are willing to pay to go see a movie, keep showing it. If this led to Apple having a film cost be paid off via theatre distribution, if not generate a healthy profit, that would make it worthwhile, never mind being able to offer filmmakers theatre distribution of their work. 

    Really, Apple would be crazy to not explore this option and theatre chains would be making a mistake to not entertain this possible source of lucrative titles. This has the potential to be a win/win scenario. 
  • Reply 2 of 14
    irelandireland Posts: 17,685member
    Theatrical releases of streamed movies are a good thing for a few reasons. 1. Award show acceptance. 2. Allows everyone a chance to see it on a massive screen with an audience 3. Allows people not subscribed to Apple TV+ an opportunity to see the film, should they wish to. I hope the trend continues for all streamed services. Part of me is happy with JJ not accepting the Apple deal. Siloing all this content away has its downsides. Apple should also consider releasing some content on physical BD media, too. Some people out there may like to own one or two films within needing to subscribe to a service. The more options for the content, the better.
    edited September 27 applesnoranges
  • Reply 3 of 14
    If there are sequels planned/hoped for with some of the titles, it might be interesting to theatrically release the first, and then (only) stream the subsequent releases once the interest it piqued.
    edited September 27
  • Reply 4 of 14
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,330member
    Cant disagree with any of the points made here so far. Any film that wants to get awards needs a theatrical release, otherwise it is just seen as a made for TV movie, and they don't have a good rep.
    entropys
  • Reply 5 of 14
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,330member
    ireland said:
    Theatrical releases of streamed movies are a good thing for a few reasons. 1. Award show acceptance. 2. Allows everyone a chance to see it on a massive screen with an audience 3. Allows people not subscribed to Apple TV+ an opportunity to see the film, should they wish to. I hope the trend continues for all streamed services. Part of me is happy with JJ not accepting the Apple deal. Siloing all this content away has its downsides. Apple should also consider releasing some content on physical BD media, too. Some people out there may like to own one or two films within needing to subscribe to a service. The more options for the content, the better.
    If they have any success at all then it is a no brainer to release a box set.

    Does anybody know what the situation with iTunes is if you have an Apple TV subscriptions. Surely they will have downloads of their movies and surely those will stream ( or download for free) for Apple TV subscribers.
  • Reply 6 of 14
    I do hope Apple is successful with these Apple TV+ offerings. It is likely not for me, but YMMV. 

    One thing I am kinda curious about is exactly how much TV Tim Cook sits and watches. He is well known to be an early riser, and for putting in many extended hours. My recollection was he said something along the lines of having been watching FAM's first season (I have ever expectation executives get early releases) but picturing Tim with a bowl of popcorn in his jammies binge watching a series one weekend is something I have a hard time picturing. 
  • Reply 7 of 14
    Publicity is nice, but a limited theatrical release has a negligible impact on public awareness. Major actors and directors can arrange for a private screening at their convenience. The ONLY reason theatrical release matters is eligibility for the Oscars. In fact, it's in the Academy rules --- Rule#2 to be exact:

    "...  to be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission." No exceptions. 

    Even though this annual ritual is not profit-driven  it still triggers the movie industry's dogged opposition to simultaneously releasing movies in theaters and via competing distribution channels. Theatre chains are getting hammered by rising rental costs and by audience resistance to higher prices for tickets and refreshments. What's not yet clear is how much movie-goers value and enjoy the big-screen group viewing experience compared to waiting a few weeks for the streaming version.
  • Reply 8 of 14
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,519member
    Carmbo said:
    It doesn't matter all that much if a film is available three months after or pretty much immediately available for streaming while offered in theatres.

    I disagree completely. Facts don't support your hypothesis. You have described two major categories of viewers- those who go to movies (for whatever reasons) and those who don't.

    But there is are in-betweens as with anything else. Theaters have seen and reported a loss of revenue as movies became available for streaming simultaneously with theatrical release. Revenues, or the loss thereof support this, and that matters to theaters.


    I agree with other posts that support Apple pursuing theatrical showings. It's a smart move for all the reasons mentioned, and in addition — many movie goers will choose the immersive theater experience, at least for an initial viewing, over home video. A good or great movie is vastly improved over the home environment. Very few homes have dedicated 'home theaters' that can equal a good cinema showing.

    Giving customers the opportunity to see an Apple commissioned movie in a theater venue raises the bar on multiple levels for branding and ultimately all to promote their streaming service.
    applesnoranges
  • Reply 9 of 14
    If Apple is truly going to do this they would be smart to buy movie/show rights to many of the popular book series.

    I'll use a genre I enjoy - the Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne characters have millions of fans that will go see those productions in theaters that probably won't stream them.  And they made a ton of money at the theater.

    Might as well buy a movie studio if this is the plan.

    edited September 27
  • Reply 10 of 14
    Apple is not going to get top flight directors and screenwriters - theatrical released or not - until they stop trying to be Disney. Even Disney felt boxed in by the family friendly end of the market and broadened its offerings.
    Instead of chasing Disney, they might hire Pelper, who left HBO after AT&T took over.
  • Reply 11 of 14
    CarmboCarmbo Posts: 21unconfirmed, member
    macgui said:
    Carmbo said:
    It doesn't matter all that much if a film is available three months after or pretty much immediately available for streaming while offered in theatres.

    I disagree completely. Facts don't support your hypothesis. You have described two major categories of viewers- those who go to movies (for whatever reasons) and those who don't.

    But there is are in-betweens as with anything else. Theaters have seen and reported a loss of revenue as movies became available for streaming simultaneously with theatrical release. Revenues, or the loss thereof support this, and that matters to theaters.


    I agree with other posts that support Apple pursuing theatrical showings. It's a smart move for all the reasons mentioned, and in addition — many movie goers will choose the immersive theater experience, at least for an initial viewing, over home video. A good or great movie is vastly improved over the home environment. Very few homes have dedicated 'home theaters' that can equal a good cinema showing.

    Giving customers the opportunity to see an Apple commissioned movie in a theater venue raises the bar on multiple levels for branding and ultimately all to promote their streaming service.
    There Is a difference between simultaneous release and release with a relatively short period of theatre exclusivity. Several weeks of exclusivity would do the trick because that captures the group of viewers who are eager enough to want to see the  film as soon as possible. The ones who go out to see it because they prefer the theatre experience and those who do not have access to the streaming option, well, they’ll go see the film even if it’s available via streaming. The ones who want to see it enough to be motivated by the exclusivity of theatre availability are most likely to go in the first couple of weeks. If you aren’t in a hurry to see it, you likely won’t care if you need to wait two weeks or two months to catch it when it streams. 

  • Reply 12 of 14
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,687unconfirmed, member
    ireland said:
    Theatrical releases of streamed movies are a good thing for a few reasons. 1. Award show acceptance. 2. Allows everyone a chance to see it on a massive screen with an audience 3. Allows people not subscribed to Apple TV+ an opportunity to see the film, should they wish to. I hope the trend continues for all streamed services. Part of me is happy with JJ not accepting the Apple deal. Siloing all this content away has its downsides. Apple should also consider releasing some content on physical BD media, too. Some people out there may like to own one or two films within needing to subscribe to a service. The more options for the content, the better.
    The problem with stretching their content to more platforms is that TV+ will lose their "exclusive" content. I mean if they start releasing them on Blu-Ray and TV stations etc. it's no longer so exclusive is it?

    davgreg said:
    Apple is not going to get top flight directors and screenwriters - theatrical released or not - until they stop trying to be Disney. Even Disney felt boxed in by the family friendly end of the market and broadened its offerings.
    Instead of chasing Disney, they might hire Pelper, who left HBO after AT&T took over.

    Huh?
  • Reply 13 of 14
    Publicity is nice, but a limited theatrical release has a negligible impact on public awareness. Major actors and directors can arrange for a private screening at their convenience. The ONLY reason theatrical release matters is eligibility for the Oscars. In fact, it's in the Academy rules --- Rule#2 to be exact:

    "...  to be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission." No exceptions. 

    Even though this annual ritual is not profit-driven  it still triggers the movie industry's dogged opposition to simultaneously releasing movies in theaters and via competing distribution channels. Theatre chains are getting hammered by rising rental costs and by audience resistance to higher prices for tickets and refreshments. What's not yet clear is how much movie-goers value and enjoy the big-screen group viewing experience compared to waiting a few weeks for the streaming version.
    After reading the article I planned to write a post like yours. I was even going to find the Academy rule and quote it. The original article missed this crucial, if not primary, consideration.
  • Reply 14 of 14
    Theatrical release is no big deal these days, since most theaters are digital, whereas a few years ago actual film prints had to be created.  Either way a drop in the bucket, but the hurdles are minimal today.
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