Apple Set to Spend $1 Billion a Year to Become Global Box Office Player

Apple original film 'Killers of the Flower Moon'
Martin Scorsese's latest film, 'Killers of the Flower Moon,' stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in dramatic exploration of the 1920s Osage Tribe murders in Oklahoma. (Image credit: Apple)

Apple has committed to spending $1 billion a year to become a serious distributor of blockbuster movies in the global theatrical marketplace, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources. 

Apple has dabbled at the box office before. It paid $25 million to buy the indie film CODA at the Sundance Film Festival two years ago, arranged a small international theatrical release for it in Italy, Korea and Mexico, and ended up becoming the first streaming company to win the Oscar for Best Picture. 

And three years ago, Apple stepped in and agreed to finance filmmaker Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon -- at a cost of more than $200 million -- after Paramount Pictures turned away form the project. But under that arrangement, Paramount agreed to distribute the film globally. 

Now, Apple reportedly wants a more committed approach to establishing gravitas and awareness to big film projects before they reach the Apple TV Plus streaming platform. 

The blueprint isn't new. 

In November, it was reported that Amazon had also committed around $1 billion a year to produce an annual slate of 12 - 15 films, all eventually funneled through Amazon Prime Video after a theatrical window of at least a month. 

On April 5, Amazon Studios will widely release Air, director/co-star Ben Affleck's drama focused on the early days of the seminal and highly profitable partnership between NBA GOAT Michael Jordan and shoemaking GOAT Nike.

In terms of the global movie business, $1 billion isn't a massive investment, but having Silicon Valley giants like Amazon and Apple validate the global box office and the value of windowing content is certainly impactful, given the state of worldwide theatrical distribution post-COVID. 

The Bloomberg leak was actually the second significant Apple TV Plus announcement this week, following Apple's disclosure on Wednesday that Friday Night Baseball will now be put behind the Apple TV Plus paywall

Now just shy of 41 months after launch, Apple has remained cagey as to how many subscribers and how much usage its subscription streaming platform is generating. 

In fact, this might be one of the more carefully guarded unknowns in all of the video business, but we would be careful to avoid insinuations that Apple TV Plus is "struggling." 

Apple disclosed in early February that it now has 935 million paid subscriptions across services including not just Apple TV Plus, but Apple Arcade, iCloud, Apple Music, Apple News Plus, Apple Fitness Plus, Apple One and Apple Pay. Collectively these services generated $20.8 billion in the most recently accounted for quarter, Apple's first of the 2023 fiscal year. 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!