Apple Inks Deal for ‘Swan Song’ Film Starring Mahershala Ali

Apple today announced that it has signed a deal for "Swan Song," a film produced by and starring Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. The film, which will go into production in the spring, will be added to the Apple TV+ streaming service and will be produced by Apple and Anonymous Content.

Image credit: MJ Kim/Getty Images

"Swan Song" is described as a "genre-bending drama" set in the near future and explores how far someone will go and how much they'll sacrifice to make a happier life for their loved ones.

Mahershala Ali, who will take on the starring role of Milo, is known for his work in "Green Book" and "Moonlight." Benjamin Cleary, known for his Oscar-winning short film "Stutterer," is set to direct the film.
"I've been developing 'Swan Song' for a while and when I sat down with Apple it was immediately clear they completely understood my vision," said Benjamin Cleary. "Once Mahershala agreed to join us I knew we had something really special. To be making this movie with Mahershala and Anonymous at Apple is an absolute dream."
Apple's head of feature development and acquisitions Matt Dentler said that the script for "Swan Song" immediately connected with Apple.
"Benjamin's script for 'Swan Song' immediately connected with us. We cannot wait to bring Benjamin's vision together with Mahershala's undeniable talent to deliver this powerfully layered story to audiences around the world."
According to Apple, "Swan Song" will see a theatrical release. It will join other ‌Apple TV‌+ films that include "Boys State," "The Banker," "Wolfwalkers," "Beastie Boys Story," and more.


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Apple Shares Trailer for Upcoming Apple TV+ Show ‘Amazing Stories’ Coming March 6

Apple this morning shared a trailer for upcoming Apple TV+ science fiction series "Amazing Stories," which is a reimagining of the original 1980s series of the same name.

"Amazing Stories" was one of the first TV shows that Apple picked up for ‌Apple TV‌+, and each episode will focus on a new topic, much like "Black Mirror" and "Twilight Zone." The original was created by Steven Spielberg, who serves as executive producer on the reboot.


Earlier this year, Apple said that each episode of the series will "transport the audience to worlds of wonder through the lens of today's most imaginative filmmakers, directors and writers."

Stars in "Amazing Stories" include Dylan O'Brien ("Maze Runner," "Teen Wolf"), Victoria Pedretti ("You"), Josh Holloway ("Lost," "Yellowstone"), Sasha Alexander ("Rizzoli & Isles," "Shameless") and Robert Forster ("Twin Peaks").

"Amazing Stories" will launch on Friday, March 6, and there will be 10 episodes in the first season of the show.


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Apple TV+ Gets First Comedy Series With Launch of ‘Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet’

"Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" is available on Apple TV+ as of today, and it is the service's first comedy sitcom series. Most shows thus far have been dramas with the exception of "Dickinson," which could be classified as a dark comedy.

Created by Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, known for their work on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "Mythic Quest" follows a team of video game developers navigating the challenges of running a popular World of Warcraft-style video game.


Rob McElhenney is the star of the show as the video game director, but Day does not have a role. David Hornsby, who plays Cricket on "Always Sunny," has a role in the new show. Hornsby recently said that "Always Sunny" provides the "flavor for a lot of the comedy" in "Mythic Quest."

Other stars include F. Murray Abraham, Danny Pudi, Imani Hakim, Charlotte Nicdao, Ashly Burch, and Jessie Ennis.

"Mythic Quest" reviews have been fairly positive so far, with the show earning a 77 percent "fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and an 80 percent audience score. Some sites have said that it's the "Silicon Valley" for game developers.

All nine episodes of "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" are available now on ‌Apple TV‌+. ‌Apple TV‌+ is priced at $4.99 per month after a seven-day trial, though Apple users who have purchased a new device since September 10, 2019 have access to a free year of service.


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Apple TV+ Competitor Disney+ Already Has Over 28 Million Subscribers

In the first three months following its launch, Disney+ has accumulated 28.6 million subscribers, Disney CEO Bob Iger said today during Disney's Q1 earnings call.

According to Iger, Disney+ has "exceeded" the company's "greatest expectations." As The Verge points out, Disney+ has surpassed the number of HBO Now subscribers and is gaining on Netflix's U.S subscriber count, which is at 61 million as of January 2020.


There's no direct comparison to Apple TV+ given the fact that Apple hasn't released subscriber numbers and has a large number of non-paying customers as the company has been providing everyone who has purchased an Apple device since September with a free year of ‌Apple TV‌+ service.

Disney+ ran promotions for discounted service for multiple years, marking the service down to the equivalent of $3.99, and has provided free Disney+ access to Verizon subscribers. Outside of free trial members and Verizon users, customers with access to Disney+ are paying for it, unlike most ‌Apple TV‌+ subscribers at this time.

Extrapolating from Apple's Q1 earnings report, Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi recently suggested that ‌Apple TV‌+ has a low adoption rate, even among those who can get it for free. He speculated that this could be due to disinterest from consumers given the limited amount of content on ‌Apple TV‌+ or Apple's failure to promote it.

It's not clear if Sacconaghi's estimates are correct, as figures from Ampere Analysis shared by The Wall Street Journal indicated Apple could have as many as 33.6 million subscribers, though most of those have free access.

Disney+ has a major edge over ‌Apple TV‌+ because Disney+ has an established catalog of content along with many popular Star Wars and Marvel franchises. "The Mandalorian," the key show Disney+ premiered with, received more attention than any of ‌Apple TV‌+'s launch shows, including "The Morning Show," "Dickinson," "See," and "For All Mankind."

‌Apple TV‌+ may be able to catch up to Disney+ at some point in the future because Apple does have a huge subscriber base to appeal to given the number of iPhones and other Apple devices in the wild, but it will be years before Apple is able to match Disney's content offerings.


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Apple Shares ‘First Look’ at ‘Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet’ Ahead of Friday Launch

Apple today shared a "first look" video featuring "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet," an upcoming Apple TV Plus show that's set to debut on Friday, February 7.

"Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" follows a team of video game developers navigating the challenges of running a popular World of Warcraft-style video game.


The series was created by Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, known for their work on long running series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Day doesn't star in the show, but McElhenney plays the video game director.

In the first look spot, McElhenney says the show is a "testament to the madness that is a video game development company." David Hornsby, who plays Cricket on "Always Sunny" and has a role in the new series, says the show "comes from the people that make Always Sunny," which "gives the flavor for a lot of the comedy."


Apple has ordered nine half-hour episodes, and when "Mythic Quest" debuts, it will be one of the first comedy shows on the ‌Apple TV‌+ service, joining existing shows that include "Dickinson," "For All Mankind," "See," "Servant," and "The Morning Show."


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Apple Close to Deal for Comedy Show Starring Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong

Apple is closing in on a series order for a musical comedy starring "Saturday Night Live" cast member Cecily Strong, reports Deadline.

Photo by Marion Curtis/StarPix/Shutterstock
Written by Despicable Me duo Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, the as-yet untitled comedy series follows a couple on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship when they discover the magical town of Schmigadoon, in which everyone acts as if they're in a studio musical from the 1940s. They then discover that they can’t leave until they find "true love."
Strong will produce as well as star in the series, while Paul will be showrunner and Daurio will serve as consulting producer.

The series has reportedly been in the works at Apple for almost a year. While Strong is thought to be in the final year of her current "Saturday Night Live" contract, her involvement in Apple's comedy series doesn't necessarily mean she's leaving NBC's late-night sketch program.

Earlier this week, Apple announced that it was also nearing a series order for a comedy-drama series starring Rose Byrne. Titled "Physical," the show is set in a 1980s Southern California beach community, in which Byrne plays a housewife who discovers unexpected power in the world of aerobics.


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Apple Signs Production Deal With Carmi Zlotnik, Known for Overseeing ‘Outlander,’ ‘American Gods’ and More

Carmi Zlotnik, president of programming at Starz, has signed an exclusive executive producer deal with Apple, reports Deadline. Zlotnik's deal comes a few days after he announced his departure from Starz, and he will begin working with Apple next month.

During his time at Starz, Zlotnik oversaw the production and development of shows that include "Outlander," "American Gods," "Vida," "Black Sails," "Power," and more.


Under the terms of the deal, Zlotnik will be producing content exclusively for the Apple TV+ streaming service.

Prior to working at Starz as president of programming, Zlotnik was head of operations for global media at IMG and prior to that, executive vice president of new media programming at HBO.

Though he has executive experience at HBO and Starz, Zlotnik is following in the footsteps of former HBO CEO Richard Plepler and transitioning to a producer role. Plepler has also signed a multi-year production deal with Apple.


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MGM Held Talks With Apple and Netflix to Gauge Interest in Acquisition

MGM held preliminary talks with Apple, Netflix, and other large media companies to gauge their interest in a possible acquisition, reports CNBC.

The report confirms another report from The Wall Street Journal last month that suggested Apple was exploring deals for MGM Holdings content, though the talks had "yet to reach an advanced stage."


A deal with MGM would potentially offer Apple a huge catalog of content to add to Apple TV Plus. MGM owns the James Bond franchise and is responsible for multiple hit TV shows like "The Handmaid's Tale," which currently airs on Hulu. It also owns Epix and the rights to movies like "Rocky" and "Mad Max."

There's no word on when and if MGM and Apple might reach some kind of deal, and all companies declined to comment on the ongoing talks.

Right now, Apple is behind other streaming media services. Apple TV+ features a handful of original Apple shows, like "The Morning Show," "For All Mankind," "Servant," and "See." Some of the shows have been nominated for rewards and have proven popular, but Apple has a long way to go to be able to compete with the larger catalogs available from Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.


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Apple Picks Up ‘Boys State’ Political Documentary for Apple TV+

Apple and its partner film studio A24 have acquired the rights to "Boys State" a political coming-of-age documentary that examines the health of American democracy, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Apple is said to have paid $10 million for the documentary, which was directed by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine. Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs' widow, served as an executive producer on the project.

Image courtesy of Sundance Film Institute

The film features an experiment in which 1,000 17-year-old boys from across Texas gather together to build a representative government from the ground up, reproducing some of democracy's worst principles and flaws.
Strap up your saddle and get ready for a wild ride. Boys State is a political coming-of-age story, examining the health of American democracy through an unusual experiment: a thousand 17-year-old boys from across the state of Texas gather together to build a representative government from the ground up. High-minded ideals collide with low-down dirty tricks as four boys of diverse backgrounds and political views navigate the challenges of organizing political parties, shaping consensus, and campaigning for the highest office at Texas Boys State--governor.

Documenting impeachment threats, dramatic debates, underdog victories, and even nefarious internet memes, filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine (The Overnighters, 2014 Sundance Film Festival) chart the dramatic twists and turns of these intersecting stories to reveal profound truths about our political choices and civic obligations and to remind us, ultimately, that democracy is not a spectator sport. With cunning insight that will have audiences buzzing, Boys State holds a mirror up to our divided country. This is a film for the ages in every sense of the term.
Prior to being purchased by Apple, the documentary premiered on January 24 at the Sundance Film Festival.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Apple Teases ‘Beastie Boys Story’ Coming to Apple TV+ in April

Apple has shared a new teaser video for its upcoming "Beastie Boys Story" documentary that's coming to Apple TV+ in the spring.

Here's a little story they're about to tell…Coming April 24 to ‌Apple TV‌+, Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz share the story of their band and 40 years of friendship in a live documentary directed by friend, collaborator, and their former grandfather, Spike Jonze.
"Beastie Boys Story" is described as a live documentary experience that focuses on the history and the legacy of the group and its personal story. It's based on the "Beastie Boys Book," published in October 2018, and will feature Horovitz and Diamond discussing their long running friendship and rise to fame.

The film will be available in IMAX theaters in a limited release on April 3 before launching on ‌Apple TV‌+ on April 24. You can learn more about the "Beastie Boys Story" on the ‌Apple TV‌ app: http://apple.co/_beastieboysstory.

The release of the documentary comes ahead of the 26th anniversary of the release of "Ill Communication," the band's fourth album. Spike Jonze originally directed the music video for the hit song "Sabotage."


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