While Netflix is, for the most part, still very much keeping its movies on its streaming service no matter how much money they cost, they are now an outlier. Apple, Amazon, and just about everyone else in the media business believe that theatrical distribution is vital to a healthy movie industry going forward. Not just for the revenue provided by ticket sales, but because movies that are released in theaters do better on streaming, even if they weren’t particularly successful during that theatrical run. However, that all depends on the existence of a healthy string of movie theater chains. As it stands, AMC and other major exhibitors are in a precarious situation.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has been extremely hard on AMC, Regal, and just about every other theater operator in the world. AMC is saddled with debt, lots of smaller theaters had to close down, and Regal’s parent company filed bankruptcy. This all happened before last year’s Hollywood strikes upended the 2024 release calendar. It goes without saying that these businesses can ill afford another downturn like we’re seeing right now. The box office is down significantly compared to 2023 and February currently looks like it’s going to be worse than January was. It’s a bad situation and any movie underperforming right now only serves to make it worse.
This is where Apple comes in. It shelled out a reported $200 million for “Argylle” as a package deal. The idea was to build a potential franchise for Apple TV+. Rather than make a pure streaming play, it opted for a theatrical release after doing the same for “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Napoleon.” Are these movies going to turn a profit purely in theaters? Not even close. But it’s revenue theater owners are happy to have. Whether or not it’s enough revenue for them to do more of this in the future? That’s the bigger, lingering question right now.
“Argylle” is now playing in theaters.