If Apple and Amazon really wanted to, they could take over Hollywood. Why haven’t they done this yet

If Apple and Amazon really wanted to, they could take over Hollywood.  Why haven't they done this yet

Tech Highlights:

  • Apple became the first streaming company to win the best picture Oscar with its $25-million acquisition of “CODA.” Amazon bought MGM for $8.5 billion, adding to its existing film and TV operation. These are not small feats. But, so far, the tech takeover of the entertainment business has been surprisingly modest. Apple is releasing a dozen or so original movies a year, which is less than what Lionsgate distributed theatrically pre-pandemic. MGM gives Amazon a substantial film and TV library, but relatively little in terms of new franchises. MGM’s share of the domestic box office in 2019 and 2021 was about 2% and 7%, respectively, according to data from the Numbers.

  • This is the May 31, 2022, edition of the Entertainment Business Wide Shot newsletter. If you were forwarded this, sign up to get it in your email by clicking here. People who create movies and TV shows have known since Apple and Amazon first dipped their toes into the film and television sector that these corporations, with their huge influence and resources, could rule Hollywood if they wanted to.

Amazon Prime Video accounted for 2.5% of U.S. TV viewing in April, compared with 6.6% for Netflix, Nielsen data show. The measurement firm includes Apple TV+ in “other streaming” because the service accounts for less than 1% of viewing. This doesn’t necessarily reflect a lack of success. It could just be the tech firms’ methodical nature. Early success can create a sugar high that leads companies to grow too fast. But the likes of Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and former Amazon Chief Jeff Bezos (succeeded by Andy Jassy) have resisted the siren song that has previously wrecked outsiders like AT&T and AOL.

“Outsiders almost always get burned, and I think these tech guys are savvy enough to know that,” said Stephen Galloway, dean of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. “We’re always looking for endless supplies of money from outside. But money is not endless, as they know.”

Netflix’s recent stumbles have shown the risks of growing as fast as possible, and there’s much anxiety that budgets across the business are going to clamp down. The more traditional media companies are becoming more selective, as indicated by reports of Warner Bros. Discovery scrutinizing its $250-million deal with J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot. If the hope was that the tech titans would become the new blank-check scribblers for Hollywood, there’s bound to be disappointment.

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