Bryan Fuller has stepped down as showrunner of Apple’s Amazing Stories reboot.
Originally starting at NBC two years ago, the revival of Steven Spielberg’s anthology series was ordered last year by Apple, as part of its push into original programming. Apple TV commission 10 episodes straight to series, produced by Universal Television and Amblin Television, with the Hannibal and American Gods veteran attached as a showrunner.
Now, though, Fuller has exited the project, which is being reported by Deadline as due to “creative differences”. A script had not yet been delivered to Apple for the show. Fuller has been attached to the show since plans for bringing it back began, and he put his full focus on it after exiting American Gods following reportedly similar differences over the series’ future following Season 1. Indeed, this is now Fuller’s third high-profile exit in a row: he also stepped down from Star Trek: Discovery during its pre-production.
Executive Producer Hart Hanson has joined Fuller in departing the show, also due to creative differences. Fuller, the former showrunner of Bones, was brought in by Apple to partner with Fuller, but sources told Deadline that “neither felt Apple or Amblin shared their mutual vision for the series”.
Apple TV to reboot Spielberg’s Amazing Stories
11th October 2017
After reports of Apple preparing to make a big leap into the original TV arena, the tech giant has announced its first major project – and it’s already thinking as big as possible, with a plan to reboot Spielberg’s Amazing Stores.
For those who weren’t watching telly in the 1980s, Amazing Stories was Spielberg’s equivalent of The Twilight Zone, with standalone stories, from the supernatural to the scary, bringing together directors such as Robert Zemeckis and Brad Bird. Earning five Emmys, it was axed by NBC after two seasons. Now, Apple plans to bring it back.
The Wall Street Journal (via The Verge) reports that Apple has inked a deal with Amblin Entertainment to produce 10 episodes of the series, in conjunction with NBCUniversal’s TV production arm. Hannibal’s Bryan Fuller will reportedly serve as showrunner, with Spielberg potentially acting as an executive producer on the project.
“I have had three meetings on Amazing Stories, two of them with Steven Spielberg,” Fuller has previously said in interviews of the project, which has been in the works at NBC for a while. “So from my experience he is very involved… I’ve pitched him ten stories for episodes and he has approved five of them, and no story moves forward without Mr. Spielberg’s approval.”
Apple has made no secret of its ambition to reinvent TV, but the Apple TV device and OS has failed to take off, in a market led by the wider-ranging access of Roku, the more affordable Google Chromecast and the more comprehensive reach of Amazon Fire TV. Apple, though, reportedly has $1 billion earmarked to invest in content that will boost its Apple TV offering, with former Sony Pictures Televisions heads Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg spearheading the effort.
So far, Apple has produced original episodes of Carpool Karaoke, which are available as part of subscription service Apple Music, but Spielberg’s name above Amazing Stories suggests that Apple will be looking for something more substantial to distribute its series. It will need more high-profile original content, though, to bolster its Apple TV platform. Out of its $1 billion budget, Amazing Stories will reportedly cost around $5 million per episode. $50 million down, $950 million to go.
Apple to invest $1 billion in original content
20th August 2017
When it comes to the war for streaming supremacy, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Facebook may be the players everyone talks about, but another contender may be about to re-enter the arena: Apple.
The tech giant is reportedly preparing to invest $1 billion in original content. The company has long been part of the online video landscape, thanks to its extensive iTunes Store and iOS platforms. Its main entry in the streaming race, though, has been Apple TV – a device that, despite some upgrades in picture quality, has never managed to establish itself as a go-to destination for programming, particularly in the UK, where the few cord-cutting options it does offer are largely irrelevant or unnecessary.
The WSJ, though, reveals that Apple has not given up on its ambitions to change the face of TV, and is readying a hefty budget to splash on as many as 10 new original shows. The splurge comes as buying and renting online is losing business to the convenience and affordability of subscription services – and with rivalry from Amazon Video, Sky Store, Google Play and more, iTunes’ share of the market has reportedly fallen from 50 per cent five years ago to 35 per cent.
With Apple entering the game fairly late on, though, it will find itself facing steeper bills, as bidding wars drive up the costs for acquisitions and original productions require heftier marketing spend to stand out. How does Apple’s $1 billion stack up? That, in itself, is a telling comparison: HBO spends around $2 billion on original content, notes The Verge, while Amazon invested $1 billion back in 2013, but is upping its spend with every year. Netflix, meanwhile, is expecting to invest $6 billion in original content this coming year. Even taken on their own, projects are costly. They may not be as epic as Game of Thrones estimated $10 million-an-episode costs, but comedies can be $2 million an episode and dramas can be $5 million per chapter.
Nonetheless, content is king in this world of premium TV and short-form viral hits (Apple has already started to produce its own original Carpool Karaoke series). And if Apple wants to make its name one to remember in TV as well as music, it’s a price the online giant will have to pay.