Following Amazon’s lead, Apple committed publicly to spending $1 billion in 2023 on movies released to theatres. This includes Apple titles such as Martin Scorsese’s historical crime thriller KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON, the spy thriller ARGYLE from filmmaker Mathew Vaughn best known for directing the movies in the KINGSMAN franchise, and Ridley Scott’s biopic NAPOLEON.
This will be Apple’s first major investment in theatrical releasing, having only dabbled with limited releases to theatres to date. This year’s titles will go through a much more traditional rollout to theatres, reaching 1000’s locations where they will be held for a minimum of 30 days before they are made available on Apple TV+. Apple will partner up on the rollout with established distributors such as Paramount, who will handle FLOWER MOON. The news sent exhibitor stocks soaring, as it represents one more positive indicator of the recovery of the box office in the current year and beyond.
Apple will benefit in several ways from distributing its new movies to theatres. First, it has become increasingly clear that the success of a movie when it appears on streaming is not limited by having first been released in theatres. In fact, audience awareness of the film is boosted by a theatrical release, which increases interest in watching it online. This realization explains why Amazon and Apple are both diving into the theatrical space.
A second key benefit to Apple for pursuing a theatrical release strategy is that it may help convince A-list talent to work on its movies. Many top filmmakers and actors in Hollywood have expressed a preference for their movies to appear in theatres. Especially since Apple TV+ has only 50 million subscribers compared to over 200 million for both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Apple needs to take advantage of any differentiation and leverage it can find.