It was already obvious that Apple plans to take on Netflix and Amazon Video, two of the biggest video streaming services online, with its own take on original programming. The only real question was what with? What sort of programs will it produce to compete with those two?
Well, here’s the answer: Steven Spielberg. Sound familiar?
It’s official. Apple is going to reboot Spielberg’s 1980s sci-fi anthology series Amazing Stories, with Spielberg himself to act as executive producer and Bryan Fuller, responsible for some of TV’s most acclaimed series such as Hannibal and American Gods, to act as showrunner.
The Hollywood Reporter claimed in September that Amazing Stories was one of the scripted shows Apple had in development as part of its broad effort to make a more significant presence in the online video streaming space.
As The Wall Street Journal confirms, The Cupertino, California-based tech firm has signed a content deal with Spielberg to create 10 episodes of the show, with an alleged budget of $5 million for each one. That means Apple is investing $50 million to create the whole series, but as Macworld opines, that’s just a drop in the bucket for the company, especially against its reported $1 billion investment budget for original content. That’s far less than Netflix’s $7 billion but certainly enough to kickstart an original lineup.
Apple TV’s executives are on the prowl for more original shows. As The Hollywood Reporter suggests, Apple tried to bid for producer Ryan Murphy’s new series Ratched, but it ultimately went to Netflix. The company also approached high-profile producers and showrunners whose work it appreciates.
Apple has the money, but it should be clear by now that it’s not all about money. Netflix has a huge cash reserve to throw to creators to make their own content, but with that allowance comes a unique form of creative control. Netflix famously provides showrunners near-unlimited freedom to create, and that is the kind of ethos that has brought audiences unique shows such as Sense8, BoJack Horseman, Big Mouth, and many more that would probably not have been approved if they were pitched to networks instead.
“What does it mean to be an Apple show?” said the head of a talent agency, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Apple is one of the most successful tech firms in the world. That’s been its identity since generations ago. But what kind of TV company is it? Will it be like Netflix in terms of giving creators freedom to control their projects, or will it annoyingly meddle with showrunners like network television often does?
Also, there’s the question of availability. Is Apple going to prevent nonusers of Apple devices from watching its programs? Will the streaming service be locked into Apple platforms? That remains to be determined, but if so, it’s safe to imagine content creators won’t be too pleased with such a setup.
A release date for the Amazing Stories reboot remains unclear; also unclear is how Apple plans to deliver the show to audiences. But one thing is for sure: Amazing Stories is just one of the many programs Apple is planning to include in its lineup.
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