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Apple TV Plus movies might hit theaters before streaming service

It's apparently trying to avoid creating industry tension like Netflix.

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Apple TV Plus could take a traditional release approach for its movies.

Connie Guglielmo/CNET

We might to able see Apple TV Plus movies in theaters a few weeks before they hit Apple's upcoming streaming service. The company is talking to movie theater chains and consulted with a former IMAX exec in its push, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Apple's apparently hoping to attract established directors and producers to the $5-a-month service, and avoid creating industry tension like Netflix -- Martin Scorcese's The Irishman won't be playing in several theater chains because Netflix wouldn't agree to the usual three-month delay between the movie's theatrical debut and its arrival on streaming.

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The strategy Apple reportedly is taking mirrors that of Amazon, which gave the Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea a three-month theatrical run in 2016, the Journal noted.

Sofia Coppola's On the Rocks, which stars Rashida Jones and Bill Murray, is one of Apple's first major theatrical releases. It could premiere at the Cannes Film Festival prior to its mid-2020 release, according to the Journal.

The Cupertino, California, company also reportedly talked about giving The Elephant Queen, a Chiwetel Ejiofor-narrated documentary about an elephant mother leading her herd across Africa, a theatrical release so it's eligible for awards consideration. It's due to be available on Apple TV Plus at launch on Nov. 1.

Apple's service will arrive shortly before its $7-a-month Disney streaming rival, Disney Plus, hits on Nov. 12. It'll only have nine titles at launch, compared to the 300 movies and thousands of TV episodes of Disney Plus. People who buy a new Apple device get a year of free access, and everyone else gets a seven-day free trial.

Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger resigned from Apple's board as the two companies prepare to compete.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

First published at 4:52 a.m. PT.
Updated at 5:42 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.