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Apple, Amazon Execs Take Content Search to TIFF

Apple is going shopping in Canada.

Variety has learned that at least one of the digital giant’s top entertainment-programming executives, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, will head to the Toronto International Film Festival this week. Execs for the streaming giant will arrive with checkbooks in hand as they look to make potential acquisitions that could fill out the content pipeline for the company’s still-under-wraps entertainment service.

Apple leaders won’t be the only deep-pocketed digital executives in Toronto. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, who joined the company earlier this year, will make her first trip to the festival as a potential buyer. Salke is expected to arrive in Toronto today.

Amazon has in recent years been a presence at festivals. Under previous entertainment head Roy Price, the company was an aggressive buyer at Sundance and SXSW last year. But with Amazon Studios in transition earlier this year following Price’s ouster in the wake of sexual-harassment allegations and amid a lengthy search for a replacement, the company was not active at either festival this year. Salke, a television veteran who previously served as NBC entertainment president, is a new presence on the film side, where she is a looking for a new top deputy to replace departed Amazon film chief Jason Ropell. ““I think you’ll be seeing expansion over there,” Salke told Variety in June of her film plans. “I think we might not necessarily be making a ton more movies, but I think the way we make movies might evolve a little bit.”

Apple, however, is a wholly new potential player, with Van Amburg or Erlicht entering the fray in Toronto on behalf of the company for the first time. They joined Apple last year, ending long tenures as presidents of Sony Pictures Television. Apple has since aggressively pursued high-profile series projects, such as a comedic drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon and a revival of Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories.” The company has, however, been less aggressive on the film front thus far, and has yet to reveal plants for the platform on which it will mount all the content it is developing.

Netflix has long been a player at festivals such as TIFF, establishing the precedent of direct-to-consumer services shaking up the traditional festival marketplace. Hulu as well is a regular presence at TIFF, where this year it will be represented by two film-acquisition execs and documentaries head Belisa Balaban.

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