Apple is looking to shake up the focus of its Apple TV Plus streaming service’s exclusive movie output, as it’s cutting ties with the animation arm of production house Skydance Media.
Skydance Animation, headed up by Pixar alumnus John Lasseter and president Holly Edwards, brought family-friendly CGI comedy ‘Luck’ to Apple TV Plus in August 2022, which was met with only middling interest from critics. The Rachel Zegler and Tituss Burgess starring ‘Spellbound’ was set to follow in the coming months, but that will no longer be the case.
Skydance shouldn’t find itself too far out of pocket, if at all however — Netflix has agreed terms to take on the company’s future animation slate, with ‘Spellbound’ now hitting Netflix in 2024, followed by ‘PooKoo’ in 2025.
Apple will also continue to work with Skydance Media on live action properties, with Mark Wahlberg action comedy ‘The Family Plan’ still on its way, and high-brow action flick ‘The Gorge’, starring Miles Teller and Anya Taylor-Joy, also headed to Apple’s platform.
iMore’s take — More adult-focussed hits
Don’t read this as a downsizing of Apple’s Hollywood ambitions — in fact, I’d say it’s quite the opposite. Since Apple’s unexpected Oscar win with CODA, it’s increasingly courted critically-acclaimed adult-oriented films as the tentpoles of its TV Plus streaming service.
The so-so performance of Luck is at odds with that apparent directional shift. Skydance, owned by Larry Ellison’s son David Ellison, signed one of Hollywood’s most lucrative live-action deals following its animation partnership with Apple, securing two films a year with estimated $125 million budgets, and a guarantee of $25 million for each project engaged in. Skydance Media is behind the Mission Impossible franchise, and it’s easy to imagine Apple seeing the animation arm as an initial sweetener to get a tentpole series like that off the ground. Such ambitions have as yet failed to bear fruit.
With ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ (directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio) hitting cinemas this week, Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ (starring Joaquin Phoenix) arriving in November, and the star-studded Matthew Vaughn-directed spy caper ‘Argylle’ set for a February release, the awards-baiting direction Apple is taking is clear.
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