Tom Hanks’ World War II drama Greyhound will bypass theatrical release (its originally scheduled date was June 12, 2020) and head, instead, straight to streaming on Apple TV+. The film was originally set for release by Sony. But was pulled from the calendar as theatres shut down due to the pandemic. Sony has, on various occasions, reiterated its support for the theatrical window for movies. They have quietly shifted several of its films to streaming, including Charm City Kings and An American Pickle, both having moved to HBO Max, the new streaming effort launch from Warner.
The movie is a major get for Apple TV+, as the tech giant’s fledgling streamer struggles to compete with incumbents Netflix. Amazon Prime and Disney+. All holding commanding leads over Apple TV+ in content libraries and production volume. Apple is hoping to increase its production volume and build its library, although appears to be doing so conservatively, with titles like The Banker, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie, and Beastie Boys Story directed by Spike Jonze.
Apple has made other acquisitions like On the Rocks. Starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, Dads and Boys State as well as Hala and The Elephant Queen. Greyhound is the biggest film commitment out of Apple, a tech giant with a market cap greater than $1 trillion (with a “t”) dollars and a cash hoard of around $200 billion. While Greyhound is definitely a large purchase, compared to Apple’s tech purchases and other various deals. Its price amounts to pocket change.
The tech behemoth can certainly afford to ramp up its efforts to play catch-up with its streaming peers, although they usually tend to operate in a more deliberate fashion, as they’ve shown in mobile, music, wearables and other areas they choose to enter. Expect Apple to play more the same slow but steady offense in the content wars.
Greyhound is based on the book, “The Good Shepherd”, by C.S. Forester, with the screenplay written by Tom Hanks, to be directed by Aaron Schneider. Hanks’ Playtone produced, along with Sony Pictures and Stage Six Films. The movie is based on events during the Battle of the Atlantic, early in the war and America’s alliance with England and the Free Forces. Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue and Rob Morgan will also join Hanks in the film. In the movie, Hanks stars as George Krause, a Navy destroyer commander (commanding Greyhound). Krause struggles with self-doubt and personal demons while commanding his ship and its crew battling the enemy.
While the movie was first, planned for May 8, it was moved out to Father’s Day weekend on June 19th. But was pulled from the schedule entirely amidst theatrical shut-downs due to the global health crisis. What would have ordinarily been a major release for Sony was then quietly shopped until it sparked a bidding war among the big streamers. According to Deadline’s reporting, the deal ended up closing around $70 million, when the dust settled.
Hanks has another project that he was working on when the pandemic struck, an Elvis biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann. He was working on the film in Australia when he and his wife, Rita Wilson, both were quarantined. The couple emerged from quarantine in good health and returned to the U.S. This story was first reported at Deadline.