Apple is no doubt one of the most powerful companies that has ever existed. Over the past decade, Apple has acquired Beats Electronics, Shazam and even Siri, which was originally developed as a completely separate app to make booking reservations easier. In an interview with CNBC in May, CEO Tim Cook revealed that the technology giant plans on acquiring even more intellectual and talent properties. In fact, Apple has acquired a whopping 20 new companies since November 2019 at a rate of about one company per two and a half weeks. However, there has been a level of secrecy surrounding most of these acquisitions, the most recent of which have not even been publicly announced. About 14 of these newly acquired companies are unknown as of May 2019.
In light of the stalemate in negotiations between Disney and Sony over the property of Spider-Man, Apple has revealed that they are looking into buying Sony Pictures for themselves. A list of new possible acquisition by Apple was revealed by an investor analyst via Twitter, including A24, Lionsgate, CBS, Sony Pictures, MGM Studios, Netflix and a gaming publisher. Though these acquisitions are far from confirmed, there is speculation that this is the reason that the Disney-Sony plan fell through. Should Apple follow through on the purchase of Sony, the rights to the Spider-Man character and other related properties will revert back to Marvel automatically as part of the deal the two companies before Disney bought Marvel. Some critics believe that the reason Disney made the bold offer of splitting the profits from the Spider-Man film franchise 50/50 between the two studios is because, should the Apple-Sony deal go through, Marvel would get the property back for free.
However, there is yet another company eyeing Sony: Amazon. In the past few years, rumors have been swirling that Amazon is also interested in purchasing Sony as they seek to develop beyond their current streaming capabilities. Both Apple and Amazon share this concern as neither company have a theatrical production model or a distribution model. Early this year, a report was released about a deal between Apple and J.J. Abrams and his production company Bad Robot. It was reported that Abrams passed on a huge deal with Apple due to their lack of intellectual property that he could adapt and the fact the company did not have a theatrical distribution model. Making the deal with Apple would have also prevented him from selling to or working with third-party outlets, effectively cutting him off from other production companies such as Disney and Paramount as well as from television projects such as the hugely successful “Westworld” series. Instead, Abrams signed with WarnerMedia for about half the amount he would have been paid by Disney. This move would allow him to work with the characters of the DC Extended Universe as well as have more creative freedom with his own projects under Bad Robot. However, should Apple purchase Sony, it will give them a theatrical distribution model that they need to move beyond simply online streaming.
Despite all of these different avenues that Sony is faced with, CEO Tony Vinciquerra states that Sony is “not for sale” and will not be “beholden to any platform.” Vinciquerra has expressed his intention to protect his creators and to keep them up to speed as to what is going on. Moving forward, it will be interesting to watch if Apple pursues Sony more seriously or if Amazon will make an offer. Should these deals start to become a reality, it will certainly change the face of theatrical releases in an unprecedented way. Additionally, it will be interesting to see how Sony resists the bidding war that is happening around them and whether or not they will be willing to join the streaming war they have been trying to stay out of.