Apple paying up to $15 million per TV+ episode in a Hollywood shakedown of Netflix wannabes

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It's hard to be a rookie. The old dogs in the barracks make you do push ups, fold their laundry, and scrub the floor on their behalf. Unless you have money, of course, then they also take your pocket change.

Apple and the other newcomers to the video streaming world are learning the hard way what it takes to overcome the multi-year gap in content production experience, reports the Wall Street Journal, and have raised the price per episode for original programming to unforeseen heights in the process. How much?

Try up to $15 million per episode for the upcoming Apple TV+ epic called "See," in which Aquaman's Jason Momoa stars in a postapocalyptic world of virus-induced blindness. Apple is not the only one being shaken for money by the Hollywood gang that wields a near-monopoly on star actors, producers, screenwriters, directors and special effect studios. Disney's new streaming service that costs only $7 a month, is also coughing up $15 million per episode of its lavish series "The Mandalorian" set in the Star Wars universe.

Compare that to established streamers like Netflix or HBO whose $5 million per episode of, say, Game of Thrones, used to look ridiculously high. The moral of the expensive story is that the newbies will be paying through the nose for original content, and this will probably raise the average price of a movie or a show episode, inducing a veritable goldrush bonanza into the world of video content creation. Now is the time to be a screen writer, producer, actor or even a skilled video editor, it seems. 

When the dust settles a few years from now, and we count the winners and losers of the streaming video push, there will be many millions of dollars fallen victim in the battle for your eyeball's attention. Here are all of the original shows that Apple is expected to have at launch, or has set in development motion:

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Apple TV+ new original shows list at launch

Apple has already poached plenty of entertainment industry names, too, so it finally seems bent on building a proper media empire. Here are all the shows Apple said its streaming service will be launching with:

Oprah Winfrey

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That's the big one. Oprah has entered a "multi-year content partnership" with Apple to produce, well, original content of unknown format. That's a big score, considering that Oprah, who does side jobs that don't break her contract with Discovery Communications, has managed to make a hit of everything she touches, including the Oscar-winning "Selma," where her company is a producer. Oh, also, Oprah wants to create the world's most vibrant book club within Apple's new service, say wha?

Steven Spielberg "Amazing Stories" reboot

Given the success of the retro-feeling "Stranger Things," Apple reported reboot of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories" hit from the 80s might turn out to be a gold mine, especially with M. Night Shyamalan as a producer. At $5 million a pop, it better work.

Reese Witherspoon - from morning show dramas to comedy series

Apple's comedy and drama orders reportedly continue with multiple shows brought on by Reese Witherspoon. One is a morning news TV series drama (or, maybe, we should stop calling them TV shows) with Jennifer Anniston and Steve Carell, and scripted by the House of Cards' Jay Carson. Another Reese Witherspoon mention is as a producer, this time for a "You Think It, I’ll Say It" scripted comedy by Apple, starring Kristen Wiig, of which there are reportedly 10 episodes already ordered.

"Are You Sleeping?" with Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul

Aaron Paul, of Breaking Bad fame, will be playing a convicted murderer in an Octavia Spencer drama called "Are You Sleeping?" No, with this lineup, Apple doesn't seem to be sleeping at all.

Comedy series with Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney from "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Apple has a potential hit under its belt, a straight-to-series comedy by everyone's favorite good-for-nothing's Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney from "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia." This alone makes the show an immediate hit among us in the office, but there is more. Charlie and Rob's comedy series takes place in a video game studio (sweet!), and also features the Oscar-winning F. Murray Abraham, plus a number of other up-and-coming actors like Charlotte Nicado, David Hornsby, Imani Hakim, Ashly Burch, and Danny Pudi.

"Little America" series

Dubbed "an anthology for immigrants," a new show is being developed for Apple by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, co-created with the Master of None's Alan Yang. These will be half-hour episodes based on true stories about "the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and unexpected lives of immigrants in America, at a time when their stories are more relevant than ever."

"For All Mankind"

Produced by Sony Pictures Television and Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), For All Mankind explores the future of a fictional global space race. Jodi Balfour will play pilot Ellen Waverly, joining previously announced Joel Kinnaman (The Killing, Altered Carbon), Michael Dorman (Patriot, Wonderland), Sarah Jones (Damnation The Path), Shantel VanSanten (Shooter, One Tree Hill) and Wrenn Schmidt (The Looming Tower, Outcast).

"Dickinson" is an Emily Dickinson comedy (of all things) with Hailee Steinfeld

This coming-of-age comedy will be set during the great American poet Emily Dickinson’s times from the viewpoint of Emily (Steinfeld). The retro environment will mix modern questions about gender's places in society, family relationships and the writer who is well ahead of her times. Now this mashup would be interesting to see, and with cast like Hailee Steinfeld (Pitch Perfect 3, True Grit) and producers Alena Smith (The Affair, The Newsroom). "Dickinson" will likely be a harbinger of what's to come in Apple's new streaming service - curated shows that won't be a dime a dozen to see what sticks like the Netflix approach.

"See" series with Jason Momoa

The Aquaman Jason Momoa has been cast in a lead role for the Apple original series "See". Mankind, or what is left of it, is now blind, and the show sounds like an epic survival drama in the future. Momoa will be playing Baba Voss, a fearless warrior and leader, what else.

Thriller series from M. Night Shyamalan

Spotted filming in Philly, the new thriller series from renowned director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Glass) employs Rupert Grint from Harry Potter fame. Apple’s upcoming psychological thriller series will follow parents Dorothy (Ambrose) and Sean Turner, who have hired young nanny Leanne to help care for their newborn child. Grint will play Julian Pearce, Dorothy’s (Ambrose) younger brother.

As you can see, Apple already has the promised new series and projects finished, in development or ordered for its original video content TV+ streaming service, and there are quite a lot of potential hits here. The chances for success are good, given Apple's cash pile and the more than a billion potential subscribers. Apple TV+ and chill?

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