Apple-Sony deal for Tom Hanks movie driven by coronavirus shutdowns

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an Apple tv + launch event at Apple Headquarters March 25, 2019 in Cupertino, California.

Noah Berger | AFP | Getty Images

Apple has just made its largest film acquisition for its AppleTV + service – “Greyhound”, the drama of the battleship of the Second World War with and written by Tom Hanks and produced by Sony.

Apple paid Sony about $ 70 million for 15 years of streaming rights to the film, which cost about $ 50 million, according to people familiar with the matter who refused to be named to discuss confidential matters. Sony will retain the right to distribute the film in China, where it could eventually be released in theaters, these people say.

It’s also the first time that Hanks, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, has given up the big screen and gone straight to streaming – a decision the star herself had to approve before Sony and Apple made the deal. , according to these people.

So why did Sony decide to sell this film instead of just delaying its release, as many studios have done with other films starring big stars? People familiar with the matter say that when the coronavirus closings forced the cancellation of its scheduled release on Father’s Day weekend on June 19, Sony was concerned that the film could not find a place among movies and superhero franchises that had been delayed this summer. A source close to the situation tells me that the studio sold the film to Netflix and Apple, but Apple was willing to pay more.

Apple made the unusual choice to spend $ 70 million on a movie because Hanks ‘star power and World War II storyline match AppleTV +’ s focus on prestigious content.

At the same time, production outages affect Apple’s content pipeline, as well as all other networks and streamers, causing delays in new elements of the service.

The film also hit the market at a time when there is more competition than ever, with the recent launches of Quibi and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, and with the launch of WarnerMedia HBO Max on May 27. consumers are crouching at home, there is more demand for volume.

This is also why Apple is looking to acquire library content to complement its exclusive originals, according to a person familiar with the thinking of the company. Bloomberg reported Earlier Tuesday, Apple is looking to purchase older TV shows for Apple TV +.

According to this person, Apple is not interested in investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the most popular programs, such as “Friends” or “The Office”, but rather in making small acquisitions that will add content while keeping its original shows as the centerpiece.

Apple and Sony declined to comment.

Introduced last year, Apple TV + costs $ 4.99 per month, but customers get one year of free service with new Apple hardware like iPhones. Apple has not released the number of its customers.

Industry insiders say that with production stoppages, broadcasts are routed to all streamers. Apple has likely watched shows that have expired from exclusive windows on competitors like Netflix or Amazon, or shows that have aired in other countries, such as BBC shows.

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