Earlier in the week, the Tom Hanks passion project Greyhound made the headline-grabbing jump from a Father’s Day theatrical release to premiering on Apple TV+ at a later date. While movies shifting to a streaming release is starting to become the norm in these pandemic days, Greyhound‘s acquisition is the first major step by Apple into taking theatrical films off the hands of a movie studio (in this case, Sony).
Normally, this is a Netflix strategy but according to CNBC, Apple has been showing up to talks with money to spend. It was enough to convince Hanks — who “himself had to approve before Sony and Apple made the deal” — to agree to forego the theater, for the first time, with a movie that he personally wrote and developed. Here’s why such an unprecedented move occurred:
So why did Sony decide to sell this film instead of simply delaying its release, as many studios have done with other films featuring big stars? People close to the matter say that when coronavirus shutdowns forced the cancellation of its scheduled release on Father’s Day weekend, June 19, Sony became concerned that the film wouldn’t be able to find a slot among the superhero films and franchises that had been delayed from the summer. A source close to the situation tells me that the studio shopped the film to Netflix and Apple, but Apple was willing to pay more.
Interestingly, the conditions that led to Greyhound‘s sale to Apple may have played a role in HBO Max’s surprise decision to “Release the Snyder Cut.” With numerous productions delayed by the pandemic, streaming services are looking a possible content gap in the days ahead, and they’re not afraid to spend their way through it. Whether that’s snatching up films that are collecting dust after having their released dates scuttled, or giving Zack Snyder $20 million to re-edit an old movie, these services are ready to pony up to keep audiences watching.