Apple is close to closing a deal for an animated film from Cartoon Saloon, Bloomberg reported.
The movie, which has yet to be developed, is more than a year from release, but Apple has been in talks to buy distribution rights for the U.S. and some other countries, according to the news outlet’s sources. Bloomberg notes that the deal is far from being closed and could still fall apart. However, whether the deal goes through or not, the action taken by Apple shows that the company is serious in its quest to take on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and the list of other SVOD services that have emerged int he past few years.
If the deal goes through, this would be the first feature film picked up by Apple, but not the first animation. In March, Apple picked up two seasons of the animated comedy “Central Park” developed by Loren Bouchard, creator of the popular animated series “Bobs Burgers.” The cartoon, which was the first of its kind to be picked up by the tech giant, joined a string of projects currently in development at Apple. In addition to Bouchard’s animated show, the tech company has given out several straight-to-series orders, including a drama from Oscar winner Damian Chazelle, a morning-show drama from Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon, a thriller series from M. Night Shyamalan, and a drama based on the life of Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant. The company is also working on a reboot of “Amazing Stories” from Steven Spielberg.
Over the past 13 months, Apple has made significant efforts to build its video team. In June 2017, the company hired Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two former Sony executives who helped produce “Breaking Bad,” “Better Caul Saul,” and “The Crown.” Erlicht and Amburg have made several hires since joining the team, including the hire of former Amazon Studios executive Morgan Wandell in October, along with other television executives including former head of current programming at Sony Pictures Kim Rozenfeld, former VP of drama development at Sony Pictures Max Aronson, and former director of creative affairs at Sony Pictures Ali Woodruff. Most recently, the company added TV veteran Michelle Lee to the team. Lee, who was brought on as a creative executive at Apple Worldwide Video, has helped develop and produce several programs including “Rise” for NBC, “The Path” for Hulu, “About a Boy” for NBC, and “Pure Genius” for CBS.
Apple is expected to debut its original series sometime next year, which could be as soon as March 2019, according to the New York Times which reported on the situation earlier this year.