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Apple’s scripted strategy is becoming clearer by the day.
The tech giant has signed a content deal with prolific producer Steven Spielberg, who is set to reboot the 1980s sci-fi drama Amazing Stories. As The Hollywood Reporter reported in late September, Amazing Stories was among the scripted projects Apple was in talks to land as part of its big entrance into the space. The deal, which is expected to include 10 episodes, is part of a larger pact with NBCUniversal, which owned the rights to the anthology series.
“It’s wonderful to be reunited with our colleagues Zack [Van Amburg] and Jamie [Erlicht] in their new capacity at Apple,” NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke said Tuesday in a statement, adding: “We love being at the forefront of Apple’s investment in scripted programming, and can’t think of a better property than Spielberg’s beloved Amazing Stories franchise with the genius of Bryan Fuller at the helm and more exciting creative partnerships to come.”
How or when this series will launch is still unclear, just as it’s not yet clear whether this will be the first project released or will come as part of a first batch of series from Apple. Still, the lingering questions have not stopped Hollywood talent and their reps from barraging the deep-pocketed company — which hired Van Amburg and Erlicht from Sony Television in June to spearhead Apple’s content acquisitions and video strategy — with spec scripts.
The pair, along with development chief Matt Cherniss, have or will pass on the vast majority that comes their way, stating regularly in conversations with industry dealmakers that they aren’t looking to replicate the pace or scale of rival Netflix’s $6 billion annual spend. Though Apple’s wallet is considerably thicker, the company is only looking to spend in the neighborhood of $1 billion in its first year. The focus, per multiple sources briefed on the company’s plans, is on big, smart, splashy dramas, with at least one citing Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Crown as models. The execs at Apple are also said to be making heavy outreach to top creators, hoping the latter will bring fresh ideas to them. (Those creators are said to include Vince Gilligan and Ron D. Moore, with whom the former Sony execs have had previous success.)
To be sure, Amazing Stories was just one of the handful of early projects that sources say Apple has bid on. Others include Ryan Murphy’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest spinoff Ratched, which ultimately went to Netflix, and the Reese Witherspoon-Jennifer Aniston morning show drama.
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