Theater CEO wants Apple to remember when people lined up for iPhones, give him movies to show

Apple TV+ Apple TV interface
Apple TV+ Apple TV interface (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Theater CEO Greg Marcus wants Apple TV+ and other streamers to put content on the big screen.
  • Theaters have struggled for new movies after production shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Marcus believes Apple's iPhone lines should be used as a model for streaming movies.

Greg Marcus, CEO of Marcus Theatres, wants Apple to remember the times when it "restricted the supply" of iPhones and "it worked so beautifully to their advantage." If you're wondering what iPhone lines and theaters have in common, you aren't alone.

According to Deadline, Marcus was speaking during an earnings call with Wall Street analysts when he got into a discussion about theaters and a growing slate of new releases following a turbulent two years for the industry. COVID-19 caused theaters to close and movie production to pause, but that's all now starting to settle down and Marcus wants streamers like Apple TV+ to give its movies to him before streaming them on their own platforms.

"We talk to all these guys. We are in discussions with them. We are figuring out how to work with their models. I don't have anything to report today on this phone call. We are open to playing their films," Marcus said during the call. He went on to say that it "was never lost on me that, on day one, when Apple would release a new iPhone, people were lined up for blocks. They created the demand and restricted the supply and it worked so beautifully to their advantage."

Marcus seems to be suggesting that by making it harder for people to watch movies, Netflix and other streams could make people want to see them more. That feels like it goes against everything that makes streaming services work — they're normally all about removing friction for people who want to watch their shows, movies, and documentaries — not adding it.

Marcus also believes that having a movie in theaters before releasing it at home will actually make it more desirable to viewers.

"In the end [studios/streamers] are going to want to maximize revenue from their IP because they are in very competitive segments." Then when a film hits a streamer, exclusively, "it will have that patina, that halo of being placed in a theater that will drive incremental revenue — not drive any decease in revenue on the streaming side."

Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, Apple TV+ has already dabbled with the dual-release idea. Swan Song and CODA are two that spring to mind. And regardless, Marcus' iPhone analogy doesn't work. Apple wasn't restricting availability — it couldn't keep up with demand. That doesn't seem like a problem that theaters are likely to have with the majority of streamers' releases.

If you want to enjoy Apple TV+ content without having to leave your home, be sure to check out our list of the best Apple TV deals on the market today.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.