When it was announced last month that Greyhound, a WWII drama written by and starring Tom Hanks, had pivoted to Apple’s streaming service amid a movie release schedule upended by coronavirus, I couldn’t help but wonder what Hanks would make of Apple’s, uh, notoriously hands-on approach to its entertainment projects. Well, now we have an idea.
Per an interview with the Guardian, the shift hasn’t been an especially comfortable one. Speaking to the publication for a wide-ranging profile that touched on, among other things, the naval ship drama set to premiere on Apple TV+ this month, Hanks called the film’s scrapped theatrical release “an absolute heartbreak. I don’t mean to make angry my Apple overlords, but there is a difference in picture and sound quality.”
It’s not that surprising to see Hanks mourning the death of cinema as he’s known it for the majority of his time on this earth or doing the interview equivalent of shaking his fist at the sky. But his “Apple overlords” comment—coupled with his characterization of the company in other parts of the profile—is telling.
According to the Guardian, Hanks said “the cruel whipmasters at Apple” determined that he a needed an (apparently weird) blank backdrop behind him during the interview, despite it being conducted from his office. Additionally, Hanks observed the blank backdrop made him seem like he was in “a witness protection programme. But here I am, bowing to the needs of Apple TV.” Yikes.
Nuances of tone like sarcasm and joking don’t always come through in print interviews. But it’s hard to imagine Hanks isn’t having a tough time adjusting to the parameters set by a Silicon Valley Goliath that’s decided to muscle its way into the streaming wars—including by capitalizing on the tight spot that the pandemic has put the film industry in. Apple reportedly swooped in to buy the Hollywood star’s big-budget boat movie as the film was struggling to find a release slot amid uncertain re-openings and ongoing delays for other high-stakes releases. According to CNBC, Hanks himself had to approve the terms of the rumored $70 million licensing deal between Apple and Sony Pictures.
Still, Hanks sounds pretty salty about the way the deal shook out. If theaters can’t rebound from ongoing closures and declining sales, though, the standards set by his meddling “Apple overlords” and those at rival streaming services may be the new normal for America’s dad.