Apple Inc.’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 Monday.
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 for the latest technology company to take on Hollywood. While Apple has been prolific in commissioning television content, it’s been slower to push into feature films. It’s 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 $1 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 transform 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” and “Song of the Sea.”
“The Elephant Queen,” which had its world premier in Toronto on 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 Chiwetel Ejiofor, nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “12 Years a Slave.”