Apple TV Plus has added 50 licensed movies to its library, but two big details let it down

Apple TV Plus logo on a mobile phone that's sitting on a laptop showing some Apple TV originals
Apple TV Plus' movie library just got a whole lot better – well, for a few weeks. (Image credit: SOPA Images)

Apple TV Plus has bolstered its movie library with the addition of over 50 licensed titles from studios including Universal, Sony, and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Last Friday (March 1), the tech giant revealed its Great Movie feature – a collection of third-party films that are now available via its streaming service's back catalog. Films joining Apple TV Plus' movie roster include award-winning and classic flicks like Titanic, Tobey Maguire's first two Spider-Man movies, Saving Private Ryan, and Kill Bill volumes one and two (i.e. two of the best Quentin Tarantino movies). To see what other titles are available, head to Apple's dedicated Great Movies webpage.

Those subscribed to one of the world's best streaming services can enjoy the aforementioned titles and many more at no extra cost, too. So, if you've been looking for a reason to use your Apple TV Plus free trial, or if you've exhausted every Apple TV Plus film option available, you've got plenty more content to stream now.

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Unfortunately, there are two big caveats to Apple's Great Movies initiative. As the X/Twitter post (above) revealed, these 50-plus films can only be streamed on Apple TV Plus in the US. They're only available for a limited time, too – Variety reporting that some flicks will depart just a few weeks after landing on the platform, with the rest set to leave sometime in April.

TechRadar has reached out to Apple for an official comment on whether its Great Movies feature will be rolled out internationally in the future. We've also asked if more licensed films will replace the initial line-up once they depart the service. We'll update this article if we receive a response.

A step in the right direction, but Netflix won't be concerned

Image showing the Apple TV Plus logo on a mobile phone with a pair of AirPods surrounded by popcorn

Apple TV Plus will continue to lag behind Netflix unless it tweaks its strategy. (Image credit: Burdun Iliya / Shutterstock)

It's pleasing to see that Apple is open to expanding its film library beyond its own in-house originals. Indeed, until recently, the tech behemoth seemingly had no interest in licensing other studios' films on its streaming platform. Our best Apple TV Plus movies list, then, was – and still is, to be perfectly honest – home to Apple TV film originals.

As Variety's aforementioned article reminds us, though, Apple has offered some licensed titles on Apple TV Plus in the past. It added a small selection of Jennifer Lawrence-starring movies to its film catalog when her Apple-developed movie Causeway was released. It did likewise with a small collection of Sidney Poitier films when its docufilm Sidney also launched on the platform.

Apple, then, has previous form for bringing third-party movies to its userbase. However, the nature of its 'limited time only' deals means it'll continually struggle to compete with some of its biggest streaming rivals, such as Netflix and Prime Video, on the film front.

Indeed, while Apple TV Plus can boast about its highly-rated collection of movies, including 2022 Best Picture Oscar winner CODA – that made it, not Netflix, the first streamer to win this prestigious award – its discernible lack of licensed content is holding it back. Why would potential subscribers open an Apple TV Plus account for $9.99 / £8.99 / AU$12.99 a month when its library is tiny compared to Netflix and Prime Video? These streaming titans offer so much more value for money – albeit on their cheaper ad-supported tiers – than Apple with their thousands-strong film and TV show line-ups. A quick look at our best Netflix movies and best Prime Video movies guides serve as proof of that.

Unless Apple commits to bringing more licensed films and TV series to its streaming platform, it'll continue to lag behind the aforementioned duo, as well as Max, Disney Plus and Hulu, whose film libraries are also much larger. Sure, it deserves credit for building up an impressive suite of first-party content but, if you has ambitions on replacing Netflix as the world's most popular platform, Apple needs to bite the bullet and give its userbase more to watch, even if it is licensed material.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.