Watching This Week #112
Listings for May 29 to June 4, 2023; Corus channels appear set to leave Eastlink.
Find out how you can watch the acclaimed musical at home in Canada.
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The 2021 filmed performance of Come from Away, the stage musical written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein based on the events of September 11, 2001 in the small Canadian town of Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, featuring much of the original Broadway cast including Petrina Bromley and Jenn Colella, became available to stream globally on Apple TV+ beginning on September 10, 2021. (The link in the previous sentence points directly to the film on the service's website, and will "deep link" to the film in the Apple TV app on most Apple devices.)
In Canada, Apple TV+ is available for $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year (all prices are before applicable sales taxes), with a seven-day free trial available to first-time subscribers, and longer trials available if you purchase a new Apple device (and occasionally other devices) and activate the trial promptly after purchase. Apple TV+ is streamed through the Apple TV app, which is available on Apple devices like the Apple TV 4K and iPad, as well as a wide variety of third-party streaming devices and smart TVs.
Even if you don't have a newer TV or set-top device that offers the Apple TV app directly, if you have one that supports Apple AirPlay, you can use any recent iPhone or iPad to cast Apple TV+ content to your bigger screen.
Although a feature film adaptation of Come from Away has been in the works since 2017, this is not it. Instead, likely due in part to complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Entertainment One, the Canada-based production company (owned by toy maker Hasbro) which acquired the film rights in 2017, financed a live filming on stage at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway in May 2021. Apple Inc. picked up the streaming rights in April, shortly before the filming took place.
The actual filming was coordinated by RadicalMedia, the company that handled the similar filmings of Hamilton (released on Disney+ last year) and David Byrne's American Utopia (acquired by HBO and available in Canada on Crave), so if you saw either of those, you will probably know roughly what to expect in terms of similarly to the stage musical.
There may yet be a full film adaptation of Come from Away, but it is probably several years away at this point.
This might be possible in the future, but we wouldn't count on it. In the majority of cases to date, our understanding is that Apple has acquired its streaming rights on an exclusive, global basis, and if so, it is under no obligation to make Come from Away available on any other basis.
However, we also don't know the exact terms of Apple's agreement with Entertainment One for the rights to this filmed performance. EOne is also, among other things, a film distributor in Canada, and might have held onto the right to distribute the film in Canadian movie theatres, or to sell linear broadcast rights to other broadcasters.
It's not uncommon, even for streaming service "originals", for the producer to sell linear broadcast rights separately, though typically restricted to airing it several months or years after release. For example, the first season of the "Amazon Original" series Good Omens also aired in Canada on Showcase, about a year after its streaming release on Prime Video, due to a deal reached by Showcase with the series' distributor (which is BBC Studios, not Amazon). Some time after that, the season also aired on Hamilton independent station CHCH.
Apple has also occasionally shown some flexibility with this sort of programming. On at least one occasion, Apple acquired international rights to a program that had already aired in one country, specifically the Israeli series Tehran. In 2020, when Apple acquired streaming rights to the Peanuts specials, taking programs like A Charlie Brown Christmas off of American broadcast television, it eventually allowed limited commercial-free screenings of the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials on PBS.
Perhaps, in the future, either Apple or eOne will work out a deal with a Canadian broadcaster to present this version of Come from Away more widely, even on a one-time basis. But this is not something you should expect anytime soon.
By virtually all accounts, yes, it is well worth seeing, if and when you are in a position to do so (as of this writing, performances on Broadway resume September 21, and are scheduled to resume in Toronto in December). Experiences will vary, but our view is that a filmed performance will never be able to quite capture the experience of watching it live.
However, if you will not be able to attend one of these performances anytime soon, watching on Apple TV+ would be the next best thing.
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