From Tripp Mickle’s “Apple Plans to Bring Feature-Length Films to Theaters” ($) in Friday’s Wall Street Journal:
By reaching out to theater-industry representatives now and releasing films early, Apple is hoping to attract big-name directors and producers and avoid some of the tension created by another Hollywood newcomer, Netflix Inc., people familiar with Apple’s strategy said.
Netflix typically asks theater owners to release movies it owns or produces at the same time they are available on the streaming service. That approach limits the company’s ability to play its movies in major cinemas, which generally insist that films don’t appear online for about three months after their theatrical debuts. In recent months, talks between theater companies and Netflix about showing awards contenders such as the coming Martin Scorsese drama “The Irishman” in their cinemas have fallen apart after the two sides failed to reach a consensus on the exclusivity…
Among Apple’s first major theatrical releases is Sofia Coppola’s “On the Rocks,” which stars Rashida Jones as a young woman reconnecting with her eccentric father, to be played by Bill Murray. Apple is eyeing a mid-2020 release, perhaps following a premiere at a high-profile event such as the Cannes Film Festival, people familiar with the situation said.
My take: It doesn’t cost Apple much to play by Hollywood’s rules. First of all, there’s not that much money anymore in box office receipts (see Horace Dediu‘s chart below). Also, Apple’s brings to the party its own global distribution system.