Gene Munster, a long-time leading financial analyst covering Apple, wrote a note in February of 2017 asking what seemed at the time like an odd question: “When Will Apple Win Its First Oscar?”
Apple, at the time, was in the very, very early stages of its plans to compete with Hollywood, and had barely announced anything on the movie side. But Munster still predicted that “Apple will win an Oscar in the next five years.” His reasoning? Amazon had made a similar move not too long ago, and beaten Netflix to Oscar attention. Plus, he saw Apple as significantly increasing its content spending, with $5-7 billion seen as an annual figure by 2022.
Nearly to that date, Apple appears set on proving Gene Munster right.
The New York Post reported this week, citing Hollywood sources, that Apple has begun “financing six small-budget movies a year with an eye toward stories that could win Academy Awards.” The company, the report said, plans to spend about $5 million to $30 million per project.
That effort, the Post said, is independent of Apple’s previously announced deal with highly-regarded indie distributor A24, to collaborate on movies. That deal has led to a planned movie that features a reunion of Lost in Translation director, Sofia Coppola, with that film’s star, Bill Murray.
It’s not known what distribution scheme will be used for the Oscar-chasing effort. Movies must receive a theatrical release to be eligible for Academy Awards. And as seen with Netflix in recent years, there’s much industry resentment for streaming service movies competing for such awards.
For most of the last two years, the vast majority of Apple’s content announcements have had to do with TV, especially the programming that will live on the Apple+ streaming service. The Post piece also says that Apple may buy a library from “Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, MGM or A24,” in order to make more content available on the new streaming service.
There’s no doubt that Apple, which has untold billions in cash on hand, can afford to compete in the movie space. The question is whether they know how to make movies. Financing a movie, when you’re one of the world’s most valuable corporations, is easy. Making one that wins an Oscar, however, is much harder.