After releasing Tom Hanks‘ WWII film Greyhound last summer, Apple has acquired the Oscar-winning actor’s new sci-fi movie Finch, which is expected to debut on the streamer this fall.
You’re probably wondering, ‘what the heck is Finch?’ and why you haven’t heard of it before, and that’s because the movie was originally titled Bios, and Universal had planned to release it. It’s unclear whether Universal backed out based on the finished film, or whether production companies Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media simply thought they stood a better chance of recouping their investment by selling Finch to Apple, rather than seeing it released in theaters during what is shaping up to be a hyper-competitive year at the (still recovering) box office. Either way, Deadline reports that Amblin brokered the auction directly, so they were calling the shots here, not Universal.
Finch is expected to receive a qualifying release in theaters all the same, most likely during awards season, as Apple is eager to placate top talent like Hanks. I don’t know what the budget for this film was, but Greyhound cost around $50 million, and Apple bought it for $70 million, allowing Sony to walk away with a tidy profit rather than sink millions more into a theatrical marketing campaign for a movie that never stood a chance of breaking even at the box office due to the pandemic. I suspect that Universal felt similarly about Finch‘s box office prospects and allowed Amblin to shop the project elsewhere.
Hanks stars as the title character, a robotics engineer who is one of very few people to survive a cataclysmic solar event that has left the world a wasteland. Finch and his dog, Goodyear, have been living together in an underground bunker for a solid decade, but Finch’s health is precarious, so he builds a robot (voiced by Caleb Landry Jones) to watch over Goodyear when he’s gone. The three charaters — man, dog and robot — form an unlikely family and embark on a perilous journey across the American West as Finch tries to teach the robot what it means to be alive.
Finch hails from director Miguel Sapochnik, the two-time Emmy winner who directed multiple episodes of Game of Thrones, including the acclaimed Season 6 episode “Battle of the Bastards.” He directed from a script by first-time scribe Craig Luck and Ivor Powell, the latter of whom served as an associate producer on Ridley Scott‘s sci-fi landmarks Alien and Blade Runner. Powell also produced the film with Kevin Misher, Jack Rapke and Jacqueline Levine, while Sapochnik and Luck executive produced alongside Robert Zemeckis, Andy Berman and Adam Merims.
Though Apple declined to share viewership numbers for Greyhound last summer, Deadline claimed they were “commensurate with a summer theatrical box office big hit” that resulted in Apple‘s biggest opening weekend, with roughly 30% of viewers deemed new subscribers who signed up specifically to watch Hanks‘ new film. While I think Apple TV+ offers a lot of quality programming — especially considering the number of swings it takes in comparison to Netflix — anecdotally, it seems that the streamer has yet to catch on with the public like its top rivals. Expect Apple‘s market share to rise as the streamer unveils more star-driven movies such as Will Smith‘s action-thriller Emancipation and Martin Scorsese‘s Killers of the Flower Moon, which features Leonardo DiCaprio. Apple has also announced it will release the Sundance sensation CODA on Aug. 13, so be sure to mark that one on your calendars, because it’s something special.
Prior to the Finch deal, Hanks was already back in business with Apple, as he’s executive producing the streamer’s event miniseries Masters of the Air alongside Steven Spielberg. The two-time Oscar winner is currently filming Zemeckis‘ live-action Pinocchio movie and he has also wrapped Baz Luhrmann‘s untitled Elvis Presley movie, in which he’ll play the singer’s legendary manager, Colonel Tom Parker. I eagerly await that film, which stars Austin Butler as the hip-shaking King of Rock and Roll.