Apple has met with cinema chains and is working with former Imax head of entertainment Greg Foster as a consultant in an effort to bring their movies to the big screen before they hit their upcoming streaming service Apple TV+.
One of the tech giant’s first major features in contention for this plan is Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks which is part of Apple’s multi-year partnership with theatrical New York-based distributor A24. The film is being eyed for a mid 2020 release.
Also being talked about for a theatrical release is Apple’s documentary The Elephant Queen, which is planning an awards campaign this season. The doc, which was acquired at TIFF 2018 by the tech giant will stream on Nov. 1 when Apple TV+ debuts in over 100 countries.
Apple is planning to work with the 90-day theatrical release window. The cultural impact of a theatrical release is what is important to Apple according to reports this morning. By working with exhibition now, Apple ensures that it won’t be an adversary. Big exhibition and Netflix couldn’t see eye-to-eye when it came to squeezing the theatrical window, and Netflix is now relegated to releasing their movies with indie circuits like Landmark and Alamo Drafthouse as well as mom-and-pop venues. Most streamers like Netflix, and most recently Amazon, have opted for truncated theatrical releases which then segue onto their services. Amazon’s The Report will have two weeks of play in theaters on Nov. 15 before going to Amazon Prime on Nov. 29. In similar fashion, Amazon is taking their $80M Felicity Jones-Eddie Redmayne period air balloon pic out on Dec. 6 before its Dec. 20 streaming date. Over the next three months, Netflix will roll out ten movies, including Martin Scrosese’s $200M feature, on the big screen for a short window before they hit streaming. Netflix’s Marriage Story, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a couple on the rocks, will get a longer theatrical prerelease before streaming at 30 days (November 6 theatrical, Decemeber 6 streaming) than The Irishman‘s 27 days. The Two Popes will play 23 days of theatrical prior to Netflix (November 27/December 20).
The Wall Street Journal had the news this morning.