Earlier this year, Apple scored one of its biggest coups ever for its streaming service, making a $70 million deal to bring the landmark Tom Hanks feature film Greyhound to Apple TV+, where it would debut exclusively on the streaming service.
The World War II drama, which was both written by and stars Tom Hanks in the lead role, was originally a Sony Pictures project that was scheduled to debut in theatres on May 8th. Sony later pushed that to June 19th in the midst of the pandemic before bowing to the inevitable and realizing that it wasn’t going to hit the kind of theatrical audiences that it was looking for unless it delayed the picture much more significantly, which the studio and producers clearly didn’t want to do.
It seems, however, that even though Tom Hanks himself had to personally approve the deal, he clearly did so reluctantly in order to make the best of a bad situation. In a recent interview with The Guardian, he expressed his disappointment that the movie, which has been “an especially labour of love for him” that was over a decade in the works, won’t be making its debut on the big screen.
[It’s] an absolute heartbreak. I don’t mean to make angry my Apple overlords, but there is a difference in picture and sound quality.Tom Hanks
Of course, Hanks’ disappointment is totally understandable, since even though Apple will be releasing Greyhound in the best 4K HDR quality of any streaming service out there, with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound, there’s still no doubt that even some of the best home theatre setups can’t quite rival the big screen experience of going to a movie theatre, and most people will be seeing Greyhound for the first time on considerably less impressive screens.
An Unusual Non-Theatrical Release
What’s interesting is that Greyhound is actually a departure from Apple’s plans for theatrical releases of its feature films. In fact, the very first film that Apple released, The Elephant Queen, debuted in theatres on Oct. 18, before Apple TV+ even launched. Apple continued this strategy with The Banker and its other recent landmark acquisition, Killers of the Flower Moon will have a worldwide theatrical release via Paramount.
With Greyhound, however, the only reason that Apple was able to score rights to the film in the first place was that Sony Pictures — and likely Hanks himself — weren’t willing to take the risk of waiting until theatres returned to some semblance of normalcy, so as heartbroken as Hanks is, he clearly decided that getting the film out sooner was far more important than launching it on the big screen.
Greyhound, which was adapted by Hanks from C.S. Forester’s novel The Good Shepherd, isn’t actually the first film that the Hollywood legend has written, but he definitely considers it one of his most important, since he spent over a decade writing it, and feels that it really is one of those “sweeping war movies that should be seen on the big screen.”
‘Bowing to Apple TV’
In general, Hanks is taking a rather humble and pragmatic approach in his relationship with Apple, at least as far as Greyhound is concerned. In the interview with The Guardian, Hanks added that “the cruel whipmasters at Apple” had actually dictated the setting for his interview, insisting that the background in his office be a blank wall.
Against the eerily empty backdrop, he looks, Hanks rightly says, as if he’s in “a witness protection programme. But here I am, bowing to the needs of Apple TV.”The Guardian
While the tone isn’t clear from the written report of the interview, it seems obvious that Hanks’ comments about his “Apple overlords” are mostly being made tongue-in-cheek. After all, Greyhound isn’t the only project that Hanks is working on for Apple TV+, having signed a landmark deal last year for Masters of the Air, the third instalment in the classic WW2 series that began on HBO almost 20 years ago with Band of Brothers, and which will be the first series to be produced directly by Apple’s own studio and directly overseen by Apple’s worldwide video chiefs Zack van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht.
Greyhound is set to debut on Apple TV+ this Friday, July 10th, where it will be simultaneously released in over 100 countries.