Apple strikes two movie deals

LOS ANGELES • Apple's video division, run by executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, is making inroads into the film industry with the acquisition of two family-focused movies.

The company has closed a deal for the rights to Wolfwalkers, an animated film by Oscar-nominated studio Cartoon Saloon.

Bloomberg first reported the company's agreement with Cartoon Saloon in June and director Tomm Moore confirmed the acquisition of Wolfwalkers on Twitter earlier this week.

Apple also picked up the global distribution rights to the documentary feature, The Elephant Queen, at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The agreements give a glimpse into the strategy of the latest technology company to take on Hollywood.

While Apple has been prolific in commissioning television content, it has been slower to push into feature films.

It is unclear yet whether the movies will get a theatrical release, but the partnership with Cartoon Saloon suggests that Apple is seeking Oscar-worthy films. A limited theatrical release is required to be considered for the awards.

The two Apple executives got a budget of at least US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion) to spend in a year, people familiar with the plans told Bloomberg last year.

Wolfwalkers is set in a time when wolves are seen as demonic. A young apprentice hunter comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack of wolves. But when she saves a native girl, their friendship leads her to discover the Wolfwalkers and transforms her into the very thing her father is out to destroy.

It is co-directed by Moore, who was Oscar-nominated for The Secret Of Kells (2009) and Song Of The Sea (2014).

The Elephant Queen, which had its world premier in Toronto last Saturday, tells the story of an elephant matriarch who will do everything in her power to protect her family when they are forced to leave their waterhole.

Another family-friendly film, it is narrated by actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in 12 Years A Slave (2013).

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2018, with the headline 'Apple strikes two movie deals'. Print Edition | Subscribe