Highway to the streaming zone? Apple TV+ bid for Top Gun: Maverick was rejected

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Top Gun Maverick
Not buzzing the Apple Park tower any time soon.
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Apple TV+ executives felt the need. The need for Top Gun: Maverick, the long-awaited sequel to 1986’s classic blockbuster, Top Gun. Unfortunately, Paramount Pictures wasn’t selling.

That’s according to a new report, claiming that Apple tried to pick up the rights to the new Tom Cruise-starring movie, after coronavirus scuppered original theatrical plans.

The movie was originally set to fly into theaters in June 2020, before being pushed back to 2021. Both Apple and Netflix reportedly approached Paramount, offering to buy the movie rights. However, Paramount held firm, believing that Top Gun: Maverick will be a big box office winner once the pandemic finally subsides.

This comes at a time when studios are embracing streaming services in a big way for releasing movies. Most notably, Warner Bros. has decided that it will release its entire 2021 slate of movies on HBO Max (as well as in theaters). It started this strategy with Wonder Woman: 1984 back in December.

Snapping up movies in the time of COVID-19

Apple has already reaped the benefits of the coronavirus-induced assault on movie theaters. Last year, it paid a reported $70 million for the rights to Greyhound, the Tom Hanks WWII movie. Hanks later said Apple had “saved the day” by swooping in to rescue the movie in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Admittedly, this did come after he made some less positive remarks about the situation initially.)

It seems likely that the pandemic is an important factor, alongside Apple’s deep pockets, in it scoring some of the big deals it has for upcoming Apple TV+ movies. This has included deals with superstar players including Martin Scorsese and others.

Not all of the attempts to snag big movies have been successful, though. Last year, Apple supposedly made an offer to buy upcoming James Bond movie No Time to Die. Apple was apparently willing to pay up to $400 million for the movie. However, MGM wanted more.

My gut reaction? That Hollywood studios are gradually coming around to the idea that streaming services are the future. Even in non-COVID-19 times, it seems likely that we’ll see more and more movies released on streaming platforms instead of (or at the same time as) theaters.

But sacrificing the biggest theatrical movies — the ones being viewed as the possible saviors for theatrical distribution after the pandemic is over — sounds to them like throwing in the towel. It could still happen, but they’re going to hold out as much as possible.

Source: Wall Street Journal