Source: Courtesy of Apple Original Films


As Apple continues to build out its tentpole slate the company announced on Monday that it is partnering with Sony on the exclusive global theatrical release of Ridley Scott’s Napoleon starring Joaquin Phoenix. The historical action epic will open on November 22.

The exclusive run in cinemas prior to dropping on Apple TV+ is likely to be substantial given the film’s A-list elements and the fact that Apple is reportedly planning a $1bn annual spend on producing big titles for theatrical release. As previously reported, Screen understands Martin Scorsese’s Cannes-bound crime saga Killers Of The Flower Moon will get a 45-day exclusive theatrical window when it opens through Paramount, Apple’s distribution partner on that film, in October.

Industry sources who spoke to Screen said a festival launch may not be in Apple’s plans for Napoleon. The company had not elaborated at time of writing, however what is in little doubt is the November release date places Scott’s latest opus squarely in the awards season corridor. The filmmaker was last in contention two years ago with House Of Gucci.

Scott directed Napoleon from a screenplay by David Scarpa. Phoenix, who stars in Ari Aster’s imminent release Beau Is Afraid and is currently shooting Joker: Folie A Deux with Lady Gaga in New York, stars as the French emperor and military leader. The film takes a personal look at Napoleon’s origins and his swift, ruthless climb to emperor, viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love Josephine, played by Vanessa Kirby.

Apple said the film “captures Napoleon’s famous battles, relentless ambition and astounding strategic mind as an extraordinary military leader and war visionary”.

Napoleon is an Apple Studios production in conjunction with Scott Free Productions. Scott, Kevin Walsh, Mark Huffam and Phoenix serve as producers, with Michael Pruss and Aidan Elliott serving as executive producers.

Besides Killers Of The Flower Moon Apple Original Films’ upcoming slate includes Matthew Vaugh’s spy thriller Argylle starring Henry Cavill, Sam Rockwell, and Bryce Dallas Howard; the untitled Formula 1 film starring Brad Pitt and directed by Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: Maverick); and romantic action adventure Ghosted with Chris Evans and Ana de Armas.

There is ongoing speculation in Hollywood over Apple’s theatrical strategy. So far Paramount and Sony are on board – both will receive a distribution fee – suggesting the company may be trying out a range of partners before it considers building out its own theatrical distribution apparatus.