Apple is now working with its third theatrical partner: Universal

Like “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Napoleon” before it, a third film from Apple, “Argylle,” will have a wide theatrical release before heading to the Apple TV+ streamer. Also, like the other two, Matthew Vaughn’s spy thriller starring Henry Cavill has its only theatrical distribution partner: Universal Pictures.

Martin Scorsese’s “Killers,” distributed by Paramount Pictures, and Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon,” distributed by Sony, both hit theaters this fall. “Argylle” will be released in theaters on February 2, 2024; We don’t have any premiere streaming dates yet for any of the three.

Jumping between theatrical distribution partners is an unusual strategy. One would expect Apple to strike a deal with a theatrical partner, but that hasn’t happened yet, and it’s starting to feel like an audition.

Alternatively, Apple could simply buy a studio; it is the largest company in the world by market capitalization. Apple’s rival Amazon, the world’s second-largest company by market capitalization, bought MGM for $8.5 billion in March 2022 to help fuel its sizable theatrical ambitions.

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Like the Sony deal for ‘Napoleon’, it’s unclear whether the Apple-Universal partnership is a one-off for ‘Argylle’ or a plus sign between the two players. When reached by IndieWire, an Apple rep didn’t comment on that very question. Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” originated at Paramount, so that explains that particular collaboration.

It’s also unclear whether “Argylle” will release under the same arrangement that Universal has with its other theatrical releases, where films that fall below a certain threshold at the box office can be released on PVOD after just 17 days – or three weekend. We asked; Universal did not respond.

What we do know, at least according to one report, is that Apple is planning to invest $1 billion a year in movies with theatrical releases. Another great film is Joseph Kosinski’s as yet untitled Formula 1 racing film starring Brad Pitt. Once reached, Apple will not reveal which studio or distributor, if any, will agree to partner on that one.

by Ridley Scott "Napoleon" first look
“Napoleon”Courtesy of Apple

Vaughn directed and produced “Argylle”. In addition to Cavill, the impressive cast also includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, John Cena, Dua Lipa, Ariana DeBose and Samuel L. Jackson.

“Argylle” is based on a screenplay written by Jason Fuchs. The film is produced by Cloudy Productions and Vaughn’s regular collaborators Adam Bohling and David Reid, as well as Fuchs. Zygi Kamasa, Carlos Peres, Claudia Vaughn and Adam Fishbach are executive producers.