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Apple makes first feature film buys in 'The Elephant Queen,' animated movie 'Wolfwalkers'

Documentary narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor was screened at Toronto International Film Festival and joins animated movie Wolfwalkers as Apple's first feature-length acquisitions for its forthcoming video slate.

Detail from The Elephant Queen film poster



Apple has bought the global rights to "The Elephant Queen," a documentary feature by British filmmakers Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble, reports Deadline.

It was acquired by Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, heads of Apple's Worldwide Video division, after they attended the Toronto International Film Festival where the film was screened this weekend. The buy marks the first live-action feature the pair bought for the company's forthcoming video service.

Apple video executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht

Apple video executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht


The 96-minute documentary, narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, is the result of more than four years with filmmakers Stone and Deeble following the lives of a small herd of elephants. The film shows the difficult decisions the mother elephant has to make to protect her young when drought hits their usual water hole. Athena, as the filmmakers call her, leads the children on a search for new food and water. It's a journey with no certainty of success and the youngest of the elephant family may be too weak to survive.

Ahead of Toronto's festival, Apple also bought "Wolfwalkers," a full-length animated feature by Oscar-nominated director Tomm Moore. Written by Will Collins, it's the story of a young apprentice demon hunter.




These two acquisitions are significant because while Apple has made many deals for video content, practically all of it has been television.

Though Apple has yet to make any formal announcements regarding shows in development, the company is believed to working with a budget of more than one billion dollars. According to reports from various trade publications, Apple is producing a slate of programming ranging from science fiction drama with Isaac Asimov's Foundation to a comedy about poet Emily Dickinson.

The company has also not revealed when or how it plans to debut the mass of video content, though rumors suggest a subscription service is in the offing. How the product will integrate with iTunes, Apple Music or the the TV app, if at all, is unclear.

Despite the lack of launch or distribution details, analysts are already predicting the stealth video business could be a significant rival to Netflix by 2025.

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