Apple Original Films has partnered with Sony Pictures Entertainment and set a November 22 worldwide theatrical release launch for Napoleon, the historical action epic directed by Ridley Scott that stars Joaquin Phoenix as French conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte and Vanessa Kirby as Empress Josephine. After the theatrical run, the film will stream globally on Apple TV+.
This becomes the second awards-season film from Apple set for an ambitious theatrical run, after the Cannes-bound Martin Scorsese-directed Killers of the Flower Moon was set for a late October release through Paramount Pictures. Paramount had some Killers rights and always was part of the Apple deal, but this is the first time Apple went out and aligned in a one-off distribution deal. Sony’s Tom Rothman worked often with Scott when the filmmaker’s Scott Free was based at Fox, and he will be primed to help maximize the awards chances of the director, who hasn’t yet won an Oscar but has been nominated three times for Best Director, for Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.
Napoleon had been in the Cannes Film Festival conversation at one point, but it became clear that wouldn’t happen because of its fall release plans. It is still early, but expect Telluride, Venice and Toronto to chase this pic, as well as New York, whose September 29-October 15 date falls closest on the calendar to Thanksgiving. Deadline revealed last week that the Denis Villenueve-directed Dune sequel was unlikely to bow at Venice as did the original, because of the gap between Venice an the film’s November 3 release date. A NYFF bow seems most likely for that film.
Directed by Scott from a screenplay by David Scarpa, Napoleon tells the story of the French emperor and military leader’s origins and swift, ruthless climb to emperor. That is viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine. The film captures Napoleon’s famous battles, relentless ambition and astounding strategic mind as an extraordinary military leader and war visionary. An Apple Studios production in conjunction with Scott Free Productions, Napoleon is produced by Scott, Kevin Walsh, Mark Huffam and Phoenix, with Michael Pruss and Aidan Elliott serving as executive producers.
Napoleon and Killers of the Flower Moon give the three-year-old Apple Original Films two prime entries in the awards race, after it became the first streamer to win the Best Picture Oscar two years ago with CODA.