Maybe Apple's TV+ unveiling was a sign of things to come.
That splashy March reveal, dubbed 'It's Showtime', was just as much about dazzling onlookers with Hollywood star power -- Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston and Steven Spielberg all made appearances -- as it was about showcasing Apple's new services.
Now, with the November launch of TV+ just weeks away, Apple is seeking to place some of its TV+ content in movie theaters for traditional theatrical runs, the WSJ reported. Apple (AAPL) - Get Report shares closed 0.49% lower on Friday to $218.82.
Apple is reaching out to movie industry representatives with the goal of placing films that will run on TV+ in theaters prior to their streaming release, according to the report. The films would have typical theatrical run of a few weeks before going live on TV+.
Titles that Apple may seek to play in theaters include Sofia Coppola's On the Rocks, due for a mid-2020 release, and a documentary called The Elephant Queen that chronicles an elephant leading her herd through Africa. In the latter case, Apple may seek to place it in theaters in November, the same time it's available on TV+, so that it can be up for awards season.
The theatrical strategy follows earlier signs that Apple is focused on quality over quantity -- just a few dozen original shows or movies have been announced for TV+, to be rolled out over the coming months. For film projects, Apple is planning to finance six projects per year to the tune of $5 million to $30 million apiece, with a goal of making it to the Academy Awards.
It isn't just glamour and ego driving such a goal -- there's a good business case for chasing theatrical releases and award nominations. It's one that rival Netflix (NFLX) - Get Report has leveraged with some success.
Award nominations may get some viewers more interested in watching a movie. But more importantly, they also make it easier for Hollywood upstarts like Netflix, Apple and Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report to attract top acting and production talent to projects. On an earnings call in January, Netflix content chief discussed the reasoning behind the company's theatrical ambitions with Roma, which had a limited theatrical run and wound up winning three Academy Awards.
"It's good for the industry to know, it's good for the creative community to know, it's good for fans to know that we're at a time when we're growing big audience films like that," Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said at the time.
Award nominations aren't just bells and whistles -- in a time when wealthy tech firms are crowding into the entertainment market, money alone isn't enough to lure in the best creative talent, according to Allen Adamson, professor at NYU's Stern School of Business and founder of brand strategy firm Metaforce.
"It's a top-down market, and the Oscars and Golden Globes create an aura of creative excellence that trickles down," he told TheStreet.
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