Back in August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had set aside $1 billion to be used over the next year for acquiring original video content. Now, the same publication reports that the iPhone maker has struck its first big deal: an agreement to resurrect 80's Steven Spielberg anthology series Amazing Stories.
The director/producer/screenwriter's Amblin Television company and NBC's Universal TV production unit will produce 10 episodes of the upcoming series. Each episode has a budget of around $5 million. While that's around half of what Game of Thrones costs, it's the same as what HBO spent on each episode of the excellent Boardwalk Empire.
The Twilight Zone-style Amazing Stories originally aired on the NBC broadcast network from 1985 to 1987. Much like Rod Serling's show and The Outer Limits, each episode was a standalone story with a fantasy, horror, or science fiction theme. It was nominated for 12 Emmy awards and won five during its two-year run.
People familiar with the matter say Spielberg will likely be an executive producer in the new version of the show. Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller will serve as showrunner.
Earlier this year, Apple made its original content ambitions clear when it hired top Sony TV executives Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to run video programming. The pair were involved in top TV shows such as Breaking Bad and Shark Tank.
"It's wonderful to be reunited with our colleagues Zack [Van Amburg] and Jamie [Erlicht] in their new capacity at Apple. 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 with the genius of Bryan Fuller at the helm and more exciting creative partnerships to come," said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke.
Apple is entering a competitive field of original programming and will face not only the traditional studios' output, but also that from the like of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. We still don't know exactly how the company plans to distribute the shows. It could revamp Apple Music, where Apple's Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps are found, or it could launch a whole new subscription service.