While it may not have the same brand recognition, level of buzz, or frankly number of subscribers as a Netflix, Disney+, or Hulu, the relatively nascent streaming service Apple TV+ is making some big moves lately. Per Deadline, they just acquired Greyhound, the upcoming Tom Hanks-starring World War II film originally scheduled to bow in theaters over Father’s Day weekend by Sony. This move is the biggest acquisition move Apple TV+ has made to date.
Greyhound is based on the true story of a first time US Navy Commander whose boat is under attack from enemy submarines. Hanks stars in the leading role alongside Stephen Graham (The Irishman), Rob Morgan (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), and Elisabeth Shue (The Boys). Hanks also wrote the screenplay, which is directed by Aaron Schneider (Get Low).
Apple paid around $70 million for the streaming debut of the film, winning out a bidding war with the other big streamers — all of whom I’m sure were eager to lock a Hanks-starring picture with Oscar bonafides written all over it, not to mention its original positioning as prime “Dad cinema.” It represents a huge step for the service in terms of spending money and acquiring content to get more eyeballs, coming in the wake of other splashy Sundance acquisitions like festival sensation Boys State, Bryce Dallas Howard‘s documentary Dads, and Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray‘s reunion picture On the Rocks. Hopefully these star-and-quality-powered moves get Apple TV+ more in the conversation, but I do worry it’s nothing more than an extension of what they’ve already been trying — star-driven projects with “quality” — without the best expected results. Hanks, of course though, ain’t just any “star,” so perhaps he’ll break that camel’s back.
Apple is also building up their back catalog of library TV shows and films to stream, according to Bloomberg. While specific titles were not mentioned, Apple is in talks with studios about acquiring certain already-produced titles, rather than the exclusively original slate they currently offer. This is a smart, and quite late move on the part of the streaming service. These types of “legacy watches” are what got Netflix and the rest their primary eyeballs of attention in their early days (think re-binging The Office on Netflix over and over). Perhaps this mix of library content, combined with splashy purchases like “the debut of a new Tom Hanks film,” will give Apple TV+ the push it needs to competitively play with the big dogs of streaming.