Less than a month before launch, Apple TV+ has announced the first series that it will actually own in-house via its own production studio: the limited drama series “Masters of the Air,” the third installment in Steven Spielberg’s “Band of Brothers”/”The Pacific” WWII saga.
Based on the nonfiction book “Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany” by Donald L. Miller, the nine-episode limited series follows the story of the Eighty Air Force (aka the “Mighty Eighth”) who brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep.
The follow-up to 2001’s “Band of Brothers” and 2010’s “The Pacific,” “Masters of the Air” will be executive produced by Spielberg through Amblin Television, alongside Tom Hanks and Gary Goeztman for Playtone. Graham Yost (“The Pacific,” “Justified”) will also co-executive produce alongside series writer John Orloff (“Band of Brothers,” “A Mighty Heart”), Amblin Television’s Darryl, and Justin Falvey and Playtone’s Steven Shareshian.
Like its predecessors, “Masters of the Air” was originally an HBO project; the cable network put the limited series in development back in January 2013, a few years after the success of “The Pacific.” (“Band of Brothers” won six Emmys and “The Pacific” won eight, with both winning the Outstanding Miniseries category.)
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“Masters of the Air” also now marks the second Spielberg/Apple TV+ collaboration, after the anthology “Amazing Stories.” It’s also the third international drama series that the streaming service will offer, along with “Pachinko” and “Shantaram.”
The announcement of Apple’s in-house production studio came as something of a surprise – it was mentioned in half a sentence in the official release about “Masters of Air” – but given the financial benefits of company’s owning their own content, it makes perfect sense.
The news comes the day after Alfonso Cuarón, the director who seemed inextricably linked to Netflix with the release of last year’s Oscar-winning “Roma,” signed an exclusive deal to produce content with Apple TV+ through his London-based production company, Esperanto Filmoj.
Edward Jones equity analyst Logan Purk, who covers Apple, noted that although signing overall deals with acclaimed creators doesn’t guarantee success, the Cuarón deal bodes well. “It’s following the playbook they have laid out since announcing Apple TV+, which is trying to get the best talent to come on board in an effort to make compelling content,” Purk said.