In the latest example of the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on the movie industry, the once Father’s Day bound theatrical release of Greyhound, a movie that stars Tom Hanks and is set in World War II, is now finding safe harbor for wide release on Apple TV+. Considering that Hanks and WWII go together like, well, Father’s Day and ties, this development is both another harbinger of the changing times as well as a major step-up in commitments for feature films by Apple.
Indeed, as broken by Deadline, Greyhound will premiere simultaneously in 100 countries on Apple’s new streaming service, albeit a release date is currently unknown. This will mark the first time Hanks stars in a direct-to-streaming movie, as well as the latest unexpected development for Hanks’ passion project.
As the film’s lone credited screenwriter, Hanks is putting on his scribe hat in a feature film for the first time since 2011’s Larry Crowne (before that was the 1996 cult classic, That Thing You Do!). The film quickly picked up a distributor from Sony Pictures, who originally slated the movie for March 2019 before delaying it to May 2020, and then finally settling on June 10, just in time for Father’s Day.
Hanks himself has also has been personally affected by COVID-19, as he and his wife Rita Wilson were among the first celebrities to reveal they contracted the disease caused by coronavirus while filming the new Baz Luhrmann Elvis Presley biopic in Australia.
The film, which is directed by Aaron Schneider, focuses on fictional U.S. Navy Commander Ernest Krause. During the early days of World War II, Krause is thrust into unexpected command of an international convoy of 37 Allied ships, who must cross the North Atlantic while being hotly pursued by a wolfpack of German U-boats. One by one, Krause sees his ships sink while commanding a U.S. destroyer, and he must battle his own demons if he is going to lead the remainder to safe harbor.
The move to AppleTV+ makes this the biggest film yet to be distributed by the streamer, and it falls in line with a number of theatrically intended films completely missing out on cinema exhibition due to the coronavirus pandemic. Universal Pictures made history when the studio put Trolls World Tour on VOD the same day it was slated to premiere in theaters last month, much to AMC Theatres and other exhibitors’ now infamous chagrin.
Other studios have had similar rollouts, including Warner Bros. releasing Scoob! straight to VOD last week and Paramount Pictures’ The Lovebirds getting moved to Netflix, where it premieres this Friday. Universal is also releasing the new Judd Apatow comedy, The King of Staten Island, straight to VOD while Disney shockingly moved up the release of a filmed performance of Hamilton from a theatrical bow in October 2021 to a Disney+ debut in July 2020.
The times appear to be a-changin.’