Initially slated for release by Sony next month, Apple has picked up a WWII navy drama starring Tom Hanks called Greyhound that will stream on the company’s TV+ service. The movie that Hanks wrote was originally scheduled for theatrical release next month by Sony Pictures on Father’s Day weekend in the US. Instead, the film will debut on TV+. There’s no word from Apple yet about when Greyhound will become available to its subscribers.
According to Deadline, which broke the story:
For Apple, this is further indication the company is becoming a major player in features, as this marks its biggest picture commitment. The Apple TV+ slate includes Beastie Boys Story, the docus Dads from director Bryce Dallas Howard and the Sundance acquisition Boys State as well as On the Rocks starring Bill Murray, Rashida Jones and directed by Sofia Coppola. Streaming now is 2019 Sundance Film Festival selections Hala and The Elephant Queen. The service also premiered the George Nolfi-directed The Banker, which stars Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson and Nia Long.
With the COVID-19 pandemic closing movie theaters worldwide, movie studios have released many smaller-budget films straight to video streaming services. However, those movies have primarily appeared on multiple streaming services simultaneously. Greyhound is unique because it’s a big-budget film featuring a big-name actor, which will be available to TV+ subscribers only.
With the economic pressures facing the movie studios, video streaming is poised to play an even larger role in the industry. By picking up Greyhound, Apple has made it clear that it intends to play a leading role in the film industry’s evolving future.
Simon Thompson has an excellent, wide-ranging interview at Forbes with the production team behind Little America, the acclaimed Apple TV+ series that debuted recently.
Early on the interview covers why the team chose Apple for this show. Executive Producer Lee Eisenberg explains that unlike many other companies, who were “a little scared” by the pitch, Apple “almost immediately started selling themselves to us and trying to convince us why they should have it.” He attributes this to the series’ tone and spirit being a perfect fit for Apple’s brand. Eisenberg also explains how the company’s platform was a big draw:
“Apple is such a worldwide and multi-faceted brand. We’re doing a podcast to delve more into the stories and the music on the show. There’ll also be a playlist for every episode. We’re putting out a book too. Apple has an infrastructure that just felt like it would be able to touch all of the different pieces that we wanted.”
Word of a Little America podcast seemingly confirms reports of Apple developing original podcast content for its TV+ catalog. The whole paragraph, however, highlights the unique place Apple is in as a media hub. As I’ve written several times now, there’s tremendous potential for the company to utilize its various services in concert to provide experiences not possible anywhere else.
Another fascinating portion of the interview involved production challenges the team faced. Executive Producers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani share the story of a time the show, which centers around U.S. immigrant narratives, had to move production out of the country and into Canada due to an actor being unable to get a visa to enter the country.
“There was a Libyan actor who we were flying in to be in the show, but because of the new immigration laws, we couldn’t film that episode in America. We had to move production to Canada for an episode,” Gordon explained.
Nanjiani added: “For an episode about someone coming to America, who came here with refugee status, we could not shoot it in the US, which was crazy. We couldn’t get a visa for him. We really liked him and really wanted him for the part, so, luckily, Apple was kind enough to allow us, at great expense, to move production to Canada for one episode.”
What an incredible and fitting behind-the-scenes story for a series like this.
Over the weekend, Apple debuted its TV+ content lineup for the first half of 2020 at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour. This Press Tour is a tradition of the TV industry, where traditional networks and streaming services alike share about the new content they’ll be releasing soon. Apple got to join the festivities this year for the first time, detailing its TV+ lineup through early summer, including release dates for highly anticipated series we already knew about, plus the debuts of new shows that hadn’t been previously announced.
Cynthia Littleton, reporting for Variety:
Apple TV Plus has given second season orders to the four scripted drama series that launched the streaming service last week.
Dramas “See,” “For All Mankind,” “Dickinson” and “The Morning Show” have been greenlit for sophomore seasons. “Morning Show,” led by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, already had a two-season order and is already at work on its next season of 10 episodes.
Apple has yet to release any specific details about subscribers or viewership activity on the service, which bowed Nov. 1. Sources close to Apple say the service to date has drawn millions of users who are spending on average more than an hour on the Apple TV Plus platform. It’s unclear how many of those are paying subscribers rather than those taking advantage of the service’s seven-day free trial. A knowledgeable source said Apple insiders were impressed by the volume of activity on the platform, which spiked by triple digits this past weekend after the fanfare for the Nov. 1 debut.
Worth keeping in mind that, as part of Apple’s launch promotion for Apple TV+, it’s very likely that the majority of early viewers aren’t paid for the service yet.
As I noted last week (and elaborated on this week’s episode of Connected), I’ve been pleasantly surprised by The Morning Show, despite its less-than-stellar reviews. I’m currently watching For All Mankind and I’m captivated by its fascinating premise as well. As always with new series, it’s good to know second seasons are already in the works.
Update, November 7: The shortcut has been updated with links to all currently announced Apple TV+ shows. You can find the updated download link below and in the MacStories Shortcuts Archive.
I was listening to the latest episode of Upgrade, and, among several fair points about the shortcomings of Apple’s TV app for iPhone and iPad, Jason Snell mentioned an issue that stood out to me: if you don’t know where to look, it can be hard to tell where exactly the Apple TV+ service lives inside the Apple TV app. This sentiment was echoed earlier today in this article by Benjamin Mayo at 9to5Mac:
Apple has made very few changes to the TV app design and feature set to accommodate the TV+ launch. TV+ is shoehorned in as just another source of content with very little consideration. With other streaming services, if you want to commit to their world and explore everything they have to offer, you can just open the dedicated app and never touch the TV app. With TV+, that’s simply not possible.
There is a channel section of the TV app that is dedicated to TV+ content — but it’s far from perfect. Finding the TV+ section requires a lot of scrolling, meandering past several screens worth of Watch Now recommendations for everything in the iTunes catalog.
I’ve been watching The Morning Show over the weekend (which I surprisingly liked a lot; I’m going to start For All Mankind and See next), and even though I’m used to the TV app’s quirks by now, I recognize that its navigation should be improved. And in particular regarding the new Apple TV+ service, I do believe that it’s somewhat buried in the TV app experience – by default, Apple doesn’t offer a single, easy way to open a “page” with Apple TV+’s complete catalog. So, I had to figure out a solution on my own.
Apple has released a trailer for its upcoming movie, The Banker, on its Apple TV YouTube channel. The company describes the film as follows:
Based on a true story, “The Banker” centers on revolutionary businessmen Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), who devise an audacious and risky plan to take on the racially oppressive establishment of the 1960s by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Along with Garrett’s wife Eunice (Nia Long), they train a working class white man, Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult), to pose as the rich and privileged face of their burgeoning real estate and banking empire – while Garrett and Morris pose as a janitor and a chauffeur. Their success ultimately draws the attention of the federal government, which threatens everything the four have built.
The film, which is rated PG-13, will be released in theaters December 6th and stream Apple TV+ in January 2020 following a similar pattern to The Elephant Queen and Hala which are also Apple Original movies. It’s an interesting approach and one that is likely designed to ensure the films are eligible for awards like the Oscars, while simultaneously creating marketing opportunities and viewer awareness in advance of their debut on TV+.
Apple TV+ is now available, a video subscription service that Apple has been working on for over two years now. The new streaming service debuts in over 100 countries, and can be accessed now inside the TV app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices, and select smart TV manufacturers, as well as from tv.apple.com.
Apple TV+ costs $4.99 per month, but all users are offered a 7-day free trial; also, anyone who has purchased a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, or iPod touch since September 10 will receive a free year of service. Finally, even if you don’t subscribe at all, Apple has made the first two episodes of all of its series available for free viewing in the TV app.
While the cost of entry is low for Apple TV+, what you get for the price is also fairly limited at the moment. Apple has branded TV+ “the first all-original video subscription service,” which means there’s no back catalog of legacy content, only brand new shows and movies that have never been released before. This angle could be spun as a positive thing in some respects, because many streaming consumers these days care most about new content, but it also means you can quickly watch everything TV+ has to offer and be stuck waiting for more content.
Here’s the full lineup of everything Apple TV+ offers today:
Apple’s streaming video service, Apple TV+, launches this Friday, November 1st. Ahead of its launch, today the first reviews dropped for the service’s tentpole originals: The Morning Show, See, For All Mankind, and Dickinson. Overall the critical takes are extremely mixed: though I haven’t seen any reviews that are outright negative, and there are a few which are very positive, the majority of reviews seem to lie somewhere in-between those two extremes.
For All Mankind appears the best-received Apple series, with Dickinson perhaps the second most-praised; however, that may be due to the added pressure placed on The Morning Show and See as Apple’s top two draws. Though many reviewers found things to praise about each show, such as Jennifer Aniston’s strong performance in The Morning Show, and the incredible visuals of See, the majority of their critical emphasis was on the ways these series fail to live up to high expectations.
One common note struck by reviewers is that with most Apple TV+ shows, only three episodes per series were provided for review, which made it difficult to adequately evaluate each first season. Perhaps tellingly, For All Mankind had the most episodes screened for critics, and it’s the most-praised show.
Below is a roundup of excerpts from various reviews that help provide a good overview of what to expect from Apple’s first original series.
Earlier this year when Oprah Winfrey took the stage at Apple’s March event, she teased a book club project that would manifest in some way through Apple’s new TV+ service. Today in a press release, Apple has shared the full details about this new project, officially named Oprah’s Book Club, which will utilize both TV+ and Apple Books in a special cross-service format.
Apple and Oprah Winfrey today announced Oprah’s Book Club will connect a community of readers worldwide to stories that truly matter by today’s most thought-provoking authors. Winfrey, the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN, will partner with Apple to build a vibrant, global book club that has the power to both transport and transform people — turning every book into an opportunity for self-discovery, and bringing the world together through reading.
Winfrey’s first book selection is “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, available for pre-order now on Apple Books in both ebook and audiobook formats, and debuting tomorrow. Winfrey will interview Coates for the first installment of her new exclusive Apple TV+ series, “Oprah’s Book Club,” premiering November 1. A new episode will be available every two months. For every Oprah’s Book Club selection sold on Apple Books, Apple will make a contribution to the American Library Association to support local libraries, fund programs that give access to everyone and create lifelong readers at an early age.
As if the marriage of TV+ and Books for Oprah’s Book Club wasn’t enough, Apple’s also leveraging its business by hosting the very first of Oprah’s author interviews at none other than Apple Carnegie Library. Additionally, Apple News today is offering a special preview of Oprah’s first book selection. Now that’s some synergy.
It’s exciting to see Apple start to utilize its roster of services such that they complement one another. The company has dabbled in similar efforts before, like through its featuring of the World Cup last summer, but we haven’t seen anything as sustained and on-going as Oprah’s Book Club will be. I’m curious to see what other potential cross-overs Apple has planned moving forward.