Apple might be making its own TV shows and movies

Steven Loeb · September 1, 2015 · Short URL:

The company is said to be following Amazon and Netflix by creating its own original content

For video streaming services original programming is the name of the game these days.

Just look at Netflix, which was more than with letting its deal with Epix go this past weekend, taking with it popular movies like the Hunger Games and Rocky. The company was able to do this because, not only do they have deals with other entities, like Disney, for exclusive rights, but they have enough of their own content, both TV shows and movies, to more than make up for it.

Considering all of the success that services like Netflix and Amazon have had, critically especially, with numerous awards, it's kind of surprising that, so far at least, Apple hasn't gotten into the game. 

That might be changing soon, according to a report out from Variety on Monday, which states that Apple has been meeting with Hollywood executives to gauge their interest in potentially producing content.

The man in charge of the unit is Eddy Cue, who has also negotiated with programmers for Apple TV, and was the company's point man when Taylor Swift recently got Apple to pay royalties for artists on Apple Music during the months long free trial. Basically, it seems like when Apple has some kind of dealing with artists or content, Cue is the man to see.

One executive, who is said to be "high level," told Variety that Apple's goal is to create development and production divisions that would churn out long-form content for online streaming, content that it hopes would be able to go up against what Netflix is currently offering. 

The company is even said to be looking to shore up the division in the nesxt few months, and wants to be producing content by next year.

There is one interesting question that is currently up in the air right now: whether Apple's focus in the original content arena will be on making TV series, making movies, or perhaps both.

If it follows the model of Netflx and Amazon, it would start with television. Netflix's first series, called Lilyhammer, debuted in 2012, but it didn't achieve critical and commercial success until the release of titles like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black and Arrested Development in 2013, shows that were nominated for numerous television awards.

Amazon took a different track, producing a series of pilots, and picking up six of them in the process. None were breakout hits until Transparent, which premiered in 2014 and took home the Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.

Neither has really done much in the way of movies yet, however, as that medium has been more resistant to new potential players.

Netflix, which has already found itself in contention for multiple Oscars for its documentaries over the couple of years, ran into this problem last year when got the rights to produce a sequel to the early 2000's martial arts hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It's plan was to release the film on its website, and in IMAX theaters, on the same day. The operators of the majority of those screens balked at the idea.

AMC, Regal and Cinemark, which together operate 247 of the 400 IMAX theaters in North America, said that they would refuse to show the film, which is set to come out in August of this year, voicing their opposition to the idea of having it released on-demand on the same day.

The first-ever Amazon Original Movie, which has yet to be release is a Spike Lee movie called Chi-Raq (though that title sounds like it might be changed) the company revealed on Wednesday. The movie will star Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Teyonah Parris, D.B. Sweeney, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris, Angela Bassett, along with John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.

It will presumably be the first of many movies made by Amazon Studios, as the company revealed earlier this year that it wants to create roughly 12 movies a year, a pretty ambitious goal.

There are some key details missing right now, most important when the movie's theatrical launch date will be. Considering the names attached to the film, and the timing of the announcement, it wouldn't be surprising if Amazon was planning on a launch to coincide with awards season. 

Amazon also seems to be trying to avoid the problems that Netflix had, as its original plans noted that its released would received early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video; they would premiere only four to eight weeks after debuting in theaters, as opposed to the 39 to 52 weeks it usually takes for movies to premiere on subscription video services.

Given all of the headaches that both Netflix and Amazon have had, it would seem easier for Apple to try first with some TV series, and then ease into movies, if it so chooses.

Either way, it's going to have some stiff competition, as its getting in late to a space that already has some big players, including the aforementioned Netlix and Amazon, as well as Hulu.

In its second quarter. Netflix saw revenue increase to $1.64 billion from $1.34 billion a year before, and it added 3.3 million new subscribers. That has sent the company's stock soaring to record highs. Netflix has 65 million users.

Hulu has around nine million subscribers and is  said to on track to bring in about $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion in revenue this year.

Amazon is bit harder to suss out, since its video on demand members are tied up into Prime, and the company does not break out that number. The company had only  2 million subscribers in 2009, and now some believe the number could be 50 million to 70 million. 

Of course, this is Apple, the most profitable company in history. Whatever it wants to do, it has the resources to do it, and millions of users already baked in. This could wind up shaking up an industry that was already being shaken up big time.

VatorNews has reached out to Apple for confirmation and comment on this report. We will update this story if we learn more. 

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