Apple TV
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, speaks about Apple TV during a launch event in Cupertino, California, Sept. 12, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Apple, the world’s most-valued publicly traded company, has been trying to expand its product offering beyond the technological gadgets that have made it a household name and brought it its approaching $1 trillion fortune. Extending its focus on video content, the company is close to a deal for the distribution rights of a full-length upcoming animation film.

The tech giant is in talks with Cartoon Saloon, an animation studio based in Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland which has been nominated for Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy awards, Bloomberg reported Friday. The studio has yet to make the movie for which Apple is trying to win the distribution rights, and will likely be released after over a year. The talks are about distributing the film in the United States and some other regions, the reported said, citing people familiar with the ongoing discussions.

A theatrical release of the film by Apple would be a distinct possibility, since that is a criterion for films to be nominated for Academy Awards. But it wasn’t clear in what format Apple was planning to bring the movies to the public. The deal — which could still unravel, because it hasn’t been finalized yet — could also include more future movies from the studio.

Video content has been an increasingly large area of focus for Apple, which brought over Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg from Sony Pictures Television to head its own video-related efforts globally. Eddy Cue, the top boss at Apple for its content division, has been expanding the iTunes store’s listing of shows and movies from other companies, but its in-house team has shown little output so far.

With a reported budget of around $1 billion to spend in a year, the video division has plans to take on the other big players in the video streaming market — Google’s YouTube,’s Prime Video, and of course, Netflix.

In the past, Apple has famously funded the popular streaming show “Carpool Karaoke” for its own Apple Music service, but the distribution deal — if the company nets it — would up its game a few notches even before it releases the first installment of its original video content in 2019, possibly as early as March.

An animation film makes sense for more than one reason. Other than its general broad appeal, animation is not exactly a new direction for the company. Founder Steve Jobs had bought and transformed George Lucas’ Lucasfilm’s computer division into a studio called Pixar, which gave the world its first fully animated feature-length film in 1995 – “Toy Story.”

Shares of Apple closed 0.52 percent higher Thursday on Nasdaq, underperforming the broader Nasdaq Composite index which rose by 0.85 percent.