Imagine Entertainment Says Report of Apple Talks Is ‘Not Accurate’

Ron Howard Brian Grazer Nat Geo
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A top exec at Imagine Entertainment, the TV and film production company led by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, said a report that Apple had discussed a business deal — or potentially even an acquisition — was inaccurate.

According to a report Thursday Financial Times, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Eddy Cue, senior VP of internet software and services, recently met with Imagine for talks that covered a possible first-look distribution deal, an investment by Apple or an acquisition. But discussions between the two companies “fizzled out,” the newspaper reported.

Imagine co-chairman Michael Rosenberg, asked for comment, wrote in an email to Variety, “The story is not accurate and Imagine has no further comment.”

Apple declined to comment.

Speculation has swirled about the extent of Apple’s Hollywood ambitions of late. The tech giant has launched a new effort to procure or produce original scripted TV shows and possibly movies for the Apple Music subscription service, according to a Wall Street Journal report last month. And Apple and Time Warner execs met in late 2015, where the prospect of a merger was reportedly raised; AT&T now is in the midst of acquiring Time Warner for $85 billion.

Apple has cut deals for some original video content for Apple Music, its $10 monthly service that competes with the likes of Spotify and Google Play Music. Those include a spinoff of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” from CBS, set to premiere in April, and reality-competition show “Planet of the Apps” featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, will.i.am and Jessica Alba as judges.

At a conference earlier this week, Cue indicated that Apple is not interested in buying a large media company or studio and said the original content strategy is in its nascent stages. “We’re trying different things. How fast it grows or where it goes remains to be seen,” he said Monday at the Code Media confab.

A year ago, Imagine received an investment of more than $100 million from the Raine Group, as first reported by Variety.

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