Apple TV+ signs production deal for Russian and 'multilingual' shows

It seems Apple is following Netflix's successful approach to making international content.

Mario Anzuoni / reuters

Apple has signed a deal with producer Alexander Rodnyansky's company AR Content to make Russian-language and multilingual shows for Apple TV+. Rodnyansky told Variety that the agreement makes Apple "the very first of all the global streaming platforms to sign a strategic partnership with a company with Russian roots."

Rodnyansky's credits include Cloud Atlas, Sin City: A Dame to Kill for and Machete Kills, but he says it's his experience and production expertise in Russia that primarily led Apple to work with him. He produced Russian films Leviathan and Beanpole, which both won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and were Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominees.

The deal with Apple is for several shows, some of which will be set inside Russia. The shows will be overseen by Russian writers and directors as well as international creatives.

Rodnyansky notes streaming has helped shows made in a variety of languages and countries to become international hits. “This is an amazing time when you have Fauda in Hebrew and Arabic doing really well across multiple territories, when you have French-speaking shows like La Mante or Marianne, or German shows like Dark or Babylon Berlin crossing borders,” Rodnyansky said. “This is a time for Russian-speaking shows to do the same, or multilingual shows."

Apple has similar first-look deals in place with Ridley Scott and Ron Howard's production companies, but the AR Content pact hints at its international ambitions. Netflix, which has expanded to all but a few countries and territories, has found success in acquiring and making international content. Spanish crime drama Money Heist has been a massive hit, while French thriller Lupin is Netflix's most successful original series so far this year. Anime and Korean dramas are also growing in popularity among subscribers. Earlier this year, Netflix picked up a modern-day adaptation of Anna Karenina as its first original drama series in Russian.

It's not too surprising that Apple is looking at a similar approach to content. Apple TV+ only has a few non-English-language projects available to stream, including Tehran and Losing Alice, so there's a lot of scope for Apple to expand its library with Russian and multilingual shows.