In what is probably the biggest move caused by the coronavirus, Tom Hanks’ World War II film Greyhound is now skipping theaters entirely and going directly to digital. The film will release on Apple TV+, completely skipping its planned theatrical release, which was scheduled for Father’s Day weekend. The movie, by the very nature of involving World War II and Tom Hanks, even had some Oscar buzz around it.
Hanks both stars in and wrote the film. It was a major release in Sony’s schedule, and its move to streaming shows both how aggressive Apple is getting at making its streaming platform a competitor and just how much the coronavirus has impacted Hollywood’s plans. The movie is about George Krause, who lands command of a Navy destroyer Greyhound and is flung into the Battle of the Atlantic during the early days of the USA’s entrance into the war.
Deadline reports that after the film was moved from its original release date of May 8 to June 19, the studio began to quietly shop it around to streaming platforms. A bidding war for the film ensued with Apple TV+ winning, and the reported price tag for the picture is around $70 million. The tech company clearly believes that films will help its lagging entertainment arm by pulling in new subscribers. They have a host of smaller films on the docket, like the Bill Murray-starring On the Rocks, but this will be its biggest film ever in both scope and price tag. The streamer’s big series, like Servant and See, have failed to garner Apple TV+ many subscribers or cultural clout.
This is also the first time Hanks will release a headlining film straight to digital. The actor hasn’t had any commentary about disliking digital-first releases, but he’s still one of the rare performers who can pull people into theaters on his name alone. As such, there hasn’t been much of a reason for the actor to jump.
Apple has not announced a release date for Greyhound, but it should be soon.