Apple makes push into feature films with ‘Elephant Queen’ and ‘Wolfwakers’

Apple has acquired the rights to two feature films, according to Deadline — and with them the company is finally making a long-rumored push into TV and feature films.

The nature documentary The Elephant Queen follows an elephant named Athena as she leads her herd away from a drought. The film’s creators spent four years documenting the herd’s travels. The movie made its debut this weekend at the Toronto Film Festival.

The Elephant Queen is narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who previously starred in Dr. Strange and 12 Years a Slave, Deadline reported. The film’s creators, Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble, have won several awards for their previous work on documentaries such as Haunt of the Hippo.

No matter how well made, nature documentaries are a very niche market, so it is not surprising that Apple has a few other titles under its belt as well. The company has also purchased the rights to the animated film The Wolfwalkers. This feature from Oscar-nominee Tomm Moore follows a young apprentice hunter who travels to Ireland with her father to hunt wolves. In the course of her journey, she befriends a native girl and her life becomes much more complicated.

An animated adventure and a nature documentary might seem like odd showpieces for Apple’s push into the entertainment space, but it does show the company is willing to take risks and invest in a wide range of proprieties.

There has been talk of Apple entering the film and TV market for some time. Speculation has ranged from Apple producing its own content for an upcoming streaming service to the company simply buying Netflix. Most of those rumors have remained idle speculation; there is little evidence that Apple plans to buy Netflix, and there’s still no word on Apple’s long-rumored streaming service, but these two acquisitions gives us an idea of what such a service might offer. The company likely knows that it can’t compete with established giants like Netflix or Hulu simply by offering a collection of syndicated programs and movies from the last century.  If Apple wants to compete with Netflix in the streaming space, then it will have to offer something different and these two movies may be the start of that.

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