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Following the traditional course set for decades by many production companies, The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple will first distribute its feature-length film exclusives in theaters rather than going straight to its streaming service, Apple TV+.
It is a departure of the approach strategized by other streaming services, which tend to hoard exclusives as a way to boost subscribers. Apple is banking on the idea that they can attract a higher level of producers and films by first making a theatrical release. This can certainly provide another revenue stream for Apple as well.
In addition, the theatrical release can broaden the market for Apple TV+. A receptive audience that could want to see the film again makes for potential subscribers for the fledgling streaming service. The exposure in a theater to a broad audience can also create consumer base to stream the same release at a later date via Apple TV+.
According to Journal's report, Apple’s first theater release will be Bill Murray’s “On the Rocks” in 2020.
Apple TV+ will debut in November. A subscription will cost $4.99 a month as the service looks to compete with industry giants such as Netflix and Amazon. In addition, a bevy of new competitors, including Disney+, are creating a crowded marketplace in a streaming war that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.