How many movies will Apple TV+ get out of Argylle franchise?


Dua Lipa and Henry Cavill in Argylle
Dua Lipa and Henry Cavill star in Argylle, in theaters February 2.
Photo: Apple TV+

For a would-be blockbuster packed with A-list Hollywood talent, the Apple TV+ spy thriller Argylle coming to theaters next month sure flew under the radar until recently. And not only is the high-concept global romp starring Henry Cavill, Dua Lipa and everyone else in Hollywood seeming to come out of nowhere. So is the developing Argylle movie franchise, which could dominate screens for years.

Turns out Argylle is based on book four of a novel series that has only just released book one. Does that mean a whopping four Argylle movies will come to Apple TV+? Or maybe even more?

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We could be watching Argylle movie series for years to come

I recently discussed the upcoming spy thriller Argylle with some colleagues, before the recent trailer dropped (watch it below). We wondered: Why isn’t Apple making a bigger deal out of this thing and its stacked cast?

And as a guy who likes spy novels and some of their movie adaptations — Slow Horses on Apple TV+, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy — they asked why don’t I write a “looking forward to it” Argylle article? Well, for one, Argylle looks more like a screwball comedy compared to those examples. And two, star-studded movies are rarely great. So I’m looking forward to it with skepticism.

Nevertheless, Argylle could be a lot of fun — if it’s not too cute for its own good and if it doesn’t collapse under the weight of that heavy-hitting cast and the film’s 135-minute runtime.

What’s Argylle about?

Argylle, Apple TV+
There’s definitely some argyle in Argylle, a spy thriller that’s not too full of itself.
Photo: Apple TV+

Argylle is a spy thriller that supposedly turns spy-movie tropes upside down, perhaps a bit like in some epochs of the James Bond film history where that franchise tried to take itself less seriously — even resorting to silly slapstick comedy — to keep the audience from getting too tired of it (see Live and Let Die, 1973; Tomorrow Never Dies, 1985). These days, spy movies often give us hardcore action and high stakes with a bit of a wink.

Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Layer Cake) directed Argylle from a script by Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman, Pan).

Here’s some of Apple’s description, dominated by the killer cast:

Argylle follows the globetrotting adventures of super-spy Argylle across the U.S., London, and other exotic locations, featuring a star-studded, award-winning cast including Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, John Cena, Dua Lipa, Ariana DeBose, and Samuel L. Jackson.

And this:

When the plots of her books get too close to the activities of a sinister underground syndicate, introverted spy novelist Elly Conway and her cat are plunged into the real world of espionage—where nothing, and no one, is what it seems.

A spy thriller … with a twist

So it’s a story within a story, where a novelist’s work begins to merge with “reality,” and she gets tied up in espionage because her books keep predicting actual events. In a scene on a train, a spy named Aidan (Rockwell) makes the writer’s acquaintance as a friendly fan. But then he fights off a horde of marauders, escaping with her out the back via paraglider. Perfectly reasonable!

And in more of a show-piece scene, Cavill, who may be Argylle — although Samuel L. Jackson implies we may not know that yet — dances with a super-sultry Dua Lipa. But she snaps her fingers and dozens of guns are trained on him, so his handler, played by John Cena, reaches into a bag of tricks from afar to help him out with a giant smoke screen.

And Bryan Cranston looks like he’ll chew some scenery as some sort of villain. Oh, and there’s a cat. I love cats, but I don’t know about this one.

Watch the Argylle movie trailer

Argylle movies series: Are we looking at a multifilm franchise?

Looking into Argylle, I was intrigued by its potential as a multi-blockbuster film franchise. (Movie industry trade publication The Hollywood Reporter said Argylle would be “the first of at least three films in the franchise” as far back as 2021.) Hollywood seems to want every big film to become a money-minting movie series, and often forces the issue. But it’s tough to pull off well.

There are a lot of interesting moves going on in the background of the movie’s development. As Vaughn told the podcast Happy Sad Confused with Josh Horowitz (below), the film is based on the fourth book in a new series, even though only the first book just came out January 9. And it’s written under the pseudonym of the author character featured in the movie whose fiction turns out to be true. (Oh yeah, and apparently, some people think author “Elly Conway” is actually pop megastar Taylor Swift, but that’s another story.)

Echoes of Star Wars

“So book 1 is being published … Mr. Lucas was clever enough to start Star Wars with Episode 4, so why not us?” Vaughan said. “So there was a whole thing about … book 4, a meta universe in the sense of having fun with reinventing the clichés of what spies are all about. And then … you’ll read book 1, which I hope to actually shoot next. There is a scene of book 1 in the movie.”

So Vaughn cited George Lucas and Star Wars as an inspiration for that out-of-order movie release. (Vaughn’s starting with book four like Lucas did with the release of Star Wars: Episode IV in 1977.) That suggests the filmmakers are going for several books and movies here with Argylle. So what seemed under the radar on the run-up to release is actually a huge, years-long deal, potentially.

And who knows if Apple, putting out the first installment in association with MARV and a partnership with Universal Films, will stay involved throughout the potential Argylle movie series.

Watch Argylle on Apple TV+

The first Argylle movie begins its theatrical run on February 2. After that, it will air on Apple TV+, but it’s hard to say exactly when that will be.

Apple TV+ is available by subscription for $9.99 with a seven-day free trial. You can also get it via any tier of the Apple One subscription bundle. For a limited time, customers who purchase and activate a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy three months of Apple TV+ for free.

After launching in November 2019, “Apple TV+ became the first all-original streaming service to launch around the world, and has premiered more original hits and received more award recognitions faster than any other streaming service. To date, Apple Original films, documentaries and series have been honored with 638 wins and 1,836 award nominations and counting,” the service said.

In addition to award-winning movies and TV shows (including breakout soccer comedy Ted Lasso), Apple TV+ offers a variety of documentaries, dramas, comedies, kids shows and more.

Watch on Apple TV


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