Napoleon charges onto Apple TV Plus in March, but it's unlikely to be the director's cut

Joaquin Phoenix's Napoleon stares up at the Egyptian Pyramids in Ridley Scott's historical epic based on the French commander-turned-emperor
Napoleon rides onto Apple TV Plus very soon. (Image credit: Apple)

Apple has confirmed when Ridley Scott's Napoleon will be released on its streaming service, and we don't have much longer to wait.

The Joaquin Phoenix-starring historical epic, which charts the rise and fall of legendary French commander-turned-emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, will charge onto Apple TV Plus on Friday, March 1. Its impending launch feels well timed ahead of the 2024 Oscars, too, with Napoleon up for three Academy Awards ahead of this year's March 10 ceremony.

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Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like the version we'll get on Apple's streaming platform is Scott's apparent director's cut. In September 2023, Scott told Empire Magazine (thanks to Variety for the catch) that he has a "fantastic" yet mind-boggling four-and-a-half cut of his latest big-budget cinematic project. 

At the time, Scott said he'd love it if Apple – who co-funded Napoleon alongside Sony Pictures – released the bum-achingly long director's cut after the movie's theatrical run. However, a spokesperson told TechRadar that there was "nothing to share as of right now" regarding Napoleon's extended cut. It's unlikely, then, that we'll see this edition make its debut on one of the world's best streaming services in the near future.

Is Ridley Scott's Napoleon worth streaming?

Napoleon Bonaparte looks through a telescope next to his troops in his self-titled Ridley Scott-directed film

Napoleon was met with mixed reviews upon its initial release. (Image credit: Apple Studios/Sony Pictures)

That depends on who you ask and/or whether you take much notice of reviews on aggregator websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes.

If you form your opinion based on the latter, you're probably best giving it a miss. Per Napoleon's Rotten Tomatoes page, it's nothing more than an expensively assembled, bang average flick. Indeed, with a 58% critical score and 59% audience rating, Napoleon doesn't seem to be worth watching. If I was to factor those scores into the equation, I certainly wouldn't entertain the prospect of adding the Phoenix-led historical drama to our best Apple TV Plus movies list.

And yet, despite the mixed reception it's received since its November 22 launch in theaters, Napoleon earned more than its fair share of nominations ahead of the 2024 awards season. 

Sure, it's only won one gong so far – Vanessa Kirby, who was recently announced as part of Marvel's Fantastic Four movie cast, winning the AATCA International prize for Best Supporting Actress as Napoleon's first wife Josefine. But, with 17 more opportunities to add to that solitary triumph, including four potential BAFTAs and the aforementioned three Oscars nominations it's received, Napoleon could still walk away with a decent haul of trophies.

So, is Napoleon worth watching on Apple TV Plus? The consensus says maybe not. Based on its multiple award nominations, though, some people would suggest it is.

Personally, I'll be streaming it – I didn't watch Napoleon in theaters and, while I won't get the big screen experience that the movie arguably deserves, I'd like to see what all the fuss is about. Phoenix and Kirby always deliver compelling performances, regardless of the quality of the films they star in, and I'd regret it if I didn't sit down and watch Scott's newest directorial effort to see where it sits among the best Ridley Scott movies

And hey, if you don't want to sign up to Apple TV Plus – you might not consider it value for money if you're only interested in watching Napoleon and don't end up enjoying it – you can just grab a free Apple TV Plus trial. Sign up for a week, watch Napoleon, and then cancel your subscription. That way, you won't spend any money on a service you might not be fussed on.

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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.


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