Apple TV Plus execs want less animation, more Hollywood hits, as Skydance partnership shrinks

Apple TV+ animated film Luck key art
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple is looking to shake up the focus of its Apple TV Plus streaming service’s exclusive movie output, as it’s cutting ties with the animation arm of production house Skydance Media.

Skydance Animation, headed up by Pixar alumnus John Lasseter and president Holly Edwards, brought family-friendly CGI comedy ‘Luck’ to Apple TV Plus in August 2022, which was met with only middling interest from critics. The Rachel Zegler and Tituss Burgess starring ‘Spellbound’ was set to follow in the coming months, but that will no longer be the case.

Skydance shouldn’t find itself too far out of pocket, if at all however — Netflix has agreed terms to take on the company’s future animation slate, with ‘Spellbound’ now hitting Netflix in 2024, followed by ‘PooKoo’ in 2025.

Apple will also continue to work with Skydance Media on live action properties, with Mark Wahlberg action comedy ‘The Family Plan’ still on its way, and high-brow action flick ‘The Gorge’, starring Miles Teller and Anya Taylor-Joy, also headed to Apple’s platform.

iMore’s take — More adult-focussed hits

Don’t read this as a downsizing of Apple’s Hollywood ambitions — in fact, I’d say it’s quite the opposite. Since Apple’s unexpected Oscar win with CODA, it’s increasingly courted critically-acclaimed adult-oriented films as the tentpoles of its TV Plus streaming service. 

The so-so performance of Luck is at odds with that apparent directional shift. Skydance, owned by Larry Ellison’s son David Ellison, signed one of Hollywood’s most lucrative live-action deals following its animation partnership with Apple, securing two films a year with estimated $125 million budgets, and a guarantee of $25 million for each project engaged in. Skydance Media is behind the Mission Impossible franchise, and it’s easy to imagine Apple seeing the animation arm as an initial sweetener to get a tentpole series like that off the ground. Such ambitions have as yet failed to bear fruit.

With ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ (directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio) hitting cinemas this week, Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ (starring Joaquin Phoenix) arriving in November, and the star-studded Matthew Vaughn-directed spy caper ‘Argylle’ set for a February release, the awards-baiting direction Apple is taking is clear.

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Gerald Lynch
Editor in Chief

Gerald Lynch is the Editor-in-Chief of iMore, keeping careful watch over the site's editorial output and commercial campaigns, ensuring iMore delivers the in-depth, accurate and timely Apple content its readership deservedly expects. You'll never see him without his iPad Pro, and he loves gaming sessions with his buddies via Apple Arcade on his iPhone 15 Pro, but don't expect him to play with you at home unless your Apple TV is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. 

Living in London in the UK, Gerald was previously Editor of Gizmodo UK, and Executive Editor of TechRadar, and has covered international trade shows including Apple's WWDC, MWC, CES and IFA. If it has an acronym and an app, he's probably been there, on the front lines reporting on the latest tech innovations. Gerald is also a contributing tech pundit for BBC Radio and has written for various other publications, including T3 magazine, GamesRadar,, Real Homes, MacFormat, music bible DIY, Tech Digest, TopTenReviews,, Brandish, Kotaku, Shiny Shiny and Lifehacker. Gerald is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press, and also holds a Guinness world record on Tetris. For real.