Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron inks exclusive deal with Apple TV+

Another day, another big name locked down for Apple TV+. Filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, who directed hits like Gravity, Children of Men, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, has agreed to develop new television shows exclusively for Apple’s upcoming streaming service, which launches this November.

Under the terms of the deal, Cuarón will develop series for Apple through his production company Esperanto Filmoj. Cuarón’s producing partner Gabriela Rodriguez is expected to oversee day-to-day operations, and Apple will retain exclusive rights to all television shows that Cuarón develops while under contract. Some of these programs will be made in conjunction with Anonymous Content, with which Cuarón has a non-exclusive deal, although he’s looking to work with other collaborators as well.

The terms of Cuarón and Apple’s agreement weren’t made public, although Deadline claims that Cuarón’s contract lasts for five years and is “state-of-the-art.”

While Cuarón is normally associated with feature films, not TV, the filmmaker actually has a solid TV background. The director got his start on the Mexican horror and sci-fi anthology series La Hora Marcada and co-created Believe, a short-lived science fiction series on NBC. In 2017, Casey Affleck and Cuarón announced that they were pitching a horror series called Ascension to pay cable and streaming networks, although no further details about that show have been released.

This isn’t Cuarón’s first brush with streaming services, either. Earlier this year, Cuarón’s Roma, a Netflix exclusive, scored 10 Oscar nominations and won Cuarón his second Best Director trophy.

Cuarón joins a growing list of top-tier creators who have pledged support for Apple TV+. Previously, Apple announced partnerships with Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Battlestar Galactica mastermind Ronald D. Moore, M. Night Shyamalan, Reese Witherspoon, and more.

Apple is paying a lot for those big names, too. The Morning Show, which stars Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell, costs over $15 million an episode, making it more expensive than Game of Thrones on a per-episode basis. A musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol reportedly cost Apple more than $60 million for stars Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds’ services alone.

It remains to be seen whether Apple’s investment will pay off. While Apple TV+ has lots of celebrities, its library looks thin compared to those found on Netflix, the upcoming Disney+, and Hulu, all of which feature thousands of hours of legacy content. In addition, some observers worry that bidding wars like the one that scored Apple A Christmas Carol will lead to higher subscription prices across all streaming services, ultimately hurting consumers.

Apple TV+ launches on November 1, 2019, and will cost $5 a month. Rumors suggest that a bundle combining Apple TV+ and Apple Music for a discounted rate might also be on its way.

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