Ap­ple teams with Steven Spiel­berg on video ex­pan­sion

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

SAN FRAN­CISCO: Ap­ple is team­ing up with award-win­ning di­rec­tor Steven Spiel­berg for its first ma­jor push into TV pro­gram­ming.

The iPhone maker is bring­ing back Spiel­berg’s 30-year-old an­thol­ogy se­ries “Amazing Sto­ries” in its at­tempt to build an on­line video sub­scrip­tion ser­vice to chal­lenge the dig­i­tal net­works op­er­ated by Net­flix, Ama­zon, Hulu and HBO. “We love be­ing at the fore­front of Ap­ple’s in­vest­ment in scripted pro­gram­ming, and can’t think of a bet­ter prop­erty than Spiel­berg’s beloved ‘Amazing Sto­ries’ fran­chise,” NBC En­ter­tain­ment Pres­i­dent Jen­nifer Salke said in a state­ment Tues­day. NBC En­ter­tain­ment works with Spiel­berg’s Am­blin Tele­vi­sion on the se­ries.

Ap­ple de­clined to com­ment on the deal. The Wall Street Jour­nal first re­ported Ap­ple had se­cured the “Amazing Sto­ries” rights. The se­ries aired on NBC from 1985 to 1987 and won five Emmy awards for its mix­ture of sci­ence fic­tion and hor­ror episodes, although the se­ries was never a big hit in the rat­ings.

It marked a re­turn to TV for Spiel­berg, who first made a name for him­self di­rect­ing the ABC film, “Duel” in 1971 be­fore mov­ing on to the movie the­aters. His films in­clude box­of­fice block­busters such as “Jaws,” “E.T.,” “Juras­sic Park,” the “In­di­ana Jones” fran­chise and crit­i­cally ac­claimed pic­tures such as “Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan,” “Lin­coln” and “Schindler’s List,” for which he won an Academy Award for best di­rec­tor.

Ap­ple is plan­ning to spend about $1 bil­lion on orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming dur­ing the next year in an ef­fort to bring in more rev­enue to its rapidly grow­ing ser­vices division. The Cu­per­tino, California, com­pany al­ready of­fers two video se­ries through its Ap­ple Mu­sic stream­ing ser­vice, “Planet of the Apps” and “Car­pool Karaoke,” but nei­ther has cre­ated much buzz.

Even though it ap­pears to be more se­ri­ous about TV pro­gram­ming, Ap­ple still isn’t send­ing any­where near Net­flix, which is pour­ing $6 bil­lion into its line-up this year as it tries to ex­pand its cur­rent world­wide au­di­ence of more than 100 mil­lion sub­scribers. And Net­flix is in­creas­ing the prices for its two most pop­u­lar plans by a $1 to $2 per month in an ef­fort to raise more money to spend on fu­ture pro­gram­ming.

Ap­ple is ex­pected to spend more than $50 mil­lion on 10 episodes of “Amazing Sto­ries.” While the fu­ture plans for the se­ries re­vival haven’t been re­vealed, the orig­i­nal “Amazing Sto­ries” run at­tracted guest ap­pear­ances from a list of stars that in­cluded Kevin Cost­ner, Har­vey Kei­tel, Char­lie Sheen, Mark Hamill and John Lith­gow, while its list of episode di­rec­tors and writ­ers in­cluded Spiel­berg, Mar­tin Scors­ese, Clint East­wood, Robert Ze­meckis and Brad Bird. — AP

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