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Apple’s Come-to-Jesus Moment for Movies

killers of the flower moon
What is the strategy? is a phrase you hear a lot when talking about Apple TV+, particularly its movie initiative. Killers of the Flower Moon and Argylle have both popped up on the ratings charts of original movies, thanks to all that marketing and press. Photo: Courtesy of Apple
Matthew Belloni
May 7, 2024

Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, the stewards of Apple’s 5-year-old foray into Hollywood, were summoned to Cupertino last month for a curious sit-down. Tim Cook was there, I’m told, as was services V.P. Eddy Cue, the overseer of the content initiative and the Apple TV+ streaming platform. Budgets were on the agenda, of course, as was the breakdown in content spend between series and films. And notably, Cook and Cue are said to have asked some very tough questions about the company’s recent experiment with movie theaters.

I know what you’re thinking: Oh no. The mere suggestion that the world’s richest company might waver in its commitment to A-level Hollywood programming, and meaningful exclusivity for movies in theaters, is enough to make film industry people double up on their Lexapro. After all, Apple and Amazon Prime Video have been the two relative bright spots amid the worsening content-pocalypse. Both have shown only scant evidence of pulling back in their overall spend, and both have at least declared themselves big believers in movie theaters—though the extent of that devotion is still an open question.