Apple Original Films may be a newcomer in the film industry, but it is already making history. In 2022, the studio won the prestigious Best Picture award at the Academy Awards for “CODA,” marking the first time a streaming service has ever received this honor. With only three years of film releases under its belt, Apple has secured a total of 10 nominations and won four Oscars. Now, with the highly anticipated release of Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, Apple is making yet another push for Academy Award glory.
“Napoleon” is a two-hour and 38-minute epic that features Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role as the French leader and military commander Napoleon Bonaparte. The film explores his rise to prominence during the French Revolution. Early reviews of “Napoleon” describe it as “slyly funny,” successfully striking a delicate balance between playful humor and gruesome battle sequences. However, the dichotomy in tone may prove to be polarizing for some viewers, with critics noting that the long run-time can make the film feel like a “chore.”
Despite the critical acclaim for Phoenix’s performance and Scott’s direction, Apple faces fierce competition for nominations in an Oscar race packed with exceptional contenders. Even within its own studio, Apple is up against Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” and Universal’s “Oppenheimer,” both of which dominated the Academy Awards race heading into November. Combined, these films, known as “Barbenheimer,” garnered attention from both critics and audiences alike, achieving record-breaking box office success. Many other studios chose to delay their theatrical releases due to the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes, making the competition even more challenging for Apple.
Alongside “Napoleon,” Apple’s other major Oscar contender is Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.” This three-hour and 26-minute Western crime drama stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. With the release of these highly anticipated films, the race for the 2024 Academy Awards is heating up. The list of potential best picture nominees includes films like “Oppenheimer,” “Barbie,” “American Fiction,” “Poor Things,” “The Holdovers,” “Maestro,” “The Zone of Interest,” “Origin,” “May December,” “Ferrari,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “Air,” “Saltburn,” “Priscilla,” and “Sound of Freedom.” It is clear that the competition for coveted Oscar nominations is growing rapidly.
For a streaming service like Apple, success at the Academy Awards can bring numerous benefits beyond just subscriber numbers. Streamers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple have been leveraging the prestige associated with Hollywood accolades and critical acclaim to draw in both talent and subscribers. While Apple has been relatively quiet about its streaming platform’s performance and subscriber numbers, it is evident that the company’s focus is not solely on vast subscription numbers. Instead, Apple aims to utilize the appeal of Apple TV+ offerings to sell Apple products and solidify its status as an awards season powerhouse.
“Napoleon” has the potential to attract the coveted adult moviegoing audience, which has been slower to return to theaters. With its marquee cast and renowned director, coupled with the allure of a well-known historical figure, the film is poised to capture the attention of the cinematic audience. Box office analysts predict that “Napoleon” will gross around $22 million during the five-day Thanksgiving frame. While it may not reach the heights of films like “Oppenheimer,” it doesn’t necessarily have to. Apple can rely on the critical acclaim and awards attention generated by its films to further establish its presence in the industry.
Apple Original Films has quickly made a significant impact on the Academy Award scene. With a Best Picture win already under its belt and a lineup of highly anticipated films, including “Napoleon” and “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Apple is demonstrating its commitment to producing high-quality content. While competition for Oscar nominations remains fierce, Apple’s ability to attract A-list talent and produce compelling films positions the studio as a formidable player in the industry. As the race for the 2024 Academy Awards intensifies, all eyes are on Apple Original Films and its continued pursuit of Oscar glory.