Apple seen hunting movie acquisitions at festival

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The company, which has mostly focused its content plans on television, is reportedly eying movie buys at the Toronto International Film Festival.

According to a report by Variety Wednesday, two top executives for Apple's nascent entertainment content effort are heading to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this week, with an eye towards acquiring films.

Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, the heads of programming for Apple's content operation, are headed to Toronto "checkbooks in hand as they look to make potential acquisitions that could fill out the content pipeline for the company's still-under-wraps entertainment service," Variety said.

At TIFF and major film festivals like it, acclaimed films often premiere, and then are given lucrative distribution deals. Amazon and Netflix, in recent years, have joined more traditional Hollywood players in competing for top movies. Amazon's movie operation, Variety said, is also headed to Toronto with a similar mission in mind.

Apple's participation is significant because nearly all of its high-profile media deals so far have involved television and not movies, and TIFF is a film festival. Apple was reported in June to be pushing to acquire an animated feature film from Cartoon Saloon, but no such deal was ever announced.

If Apple were to acquire a major film out of Toronto, it's unclear what distribution scheme it would use for it. Amazon Studios in recent years has acquired films and distributed them, often with partners, in theaters before placing them on the Amazon Prime service. Netflix has done the same with some festival-acquired titles, while bringing others direct to its streaming service.

Apple, of course, has not yet announced or launched its content platform, although an analyst note from Morgan Stanley Wednesday predicted its video business will rival Netflix by 2025.