Apple rolls out big-screen dreams

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The Future. Apple’s big bet on theatrical movies starts in a couple of weeks with the debut of Martin Scorsese’s all-star Killers of the Flower Moon. It’s part of Apple’s strategy to spend $1 billion annually on theatrical movies, with Ridley Scott’s Napoleon dropping next month and Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle in Feburary. Coupled with Amazon’s similar investment, theaters may find a lifeline in playing titles from those that were once considered their biggest competitors.

This month, Apple TV+ is coming to a big screen near you with Killers of the Flower Moon… and that could be a gamechanger for the theatrical landscape.

  • The almost $250 million Scorsese drama, backed by a major marketing campaign, will be released on 10,000 screens worldwide on October 20th (in partnership with Paramount, which will be handling distribution logistics).
  • It won’t be available on Apple TV+ for at least 45 days, underlining the new (old?) belief that opening movies in theaters is the best way to eventize a movie and drive eyeballs to a streaming service — a major contrast to Netflix’s overriding belief.

Even if Flower Moon doesn’t do too hot at the box office (it’s tracking to open at $34 million), the strategy will be a big win for Apple if three things happen: 

  • More people sign up for Apple TV+ (which has struggled with growth).
  • Top filmmakers are enticed to make their projects for Apple (many demand a theatrical release these days).
  • It keeps up the company’s image of providing top-quality content and services (Flower Moon is already an Oscar frontrunner).

It’s not like Apple needs to make money — it has a $2.72 trillion market cap, and its service’s division alone made $21.2 billion last quarter. Theatrical movies are simply great marketing.

Hopefully, the tech giant always feels like it needs to keep marketing itself.


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