Apple Enlists For ‘Masters Of The Air’ As Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks & Gary Goetzman Fly From HBO For WWII Series

Masters Of The Air Apple
Simon & Schuster/Apple

Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone have made a deal with Apple for an event limited series based on the Donald L. Miller book Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany. It is a follow-up to their Emmy-winning World War II HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific.

The book tells the story of the American bomber boys in WWII who brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep. It becomes the first series greenlit with Apple serving as the studio as the company is joining major streamers like Netflix and Amazon, which also produce and own content. Deadline hears that the miniseries will be more than eight hours in length, and that it will cost well north of $200 million to produce.

Steven Spielberg Tom Hanks Gary Goetzman
Spielberg, left, Hanks and Goetzman Shutterstock

Spielberg, Hanks and Goetzman will be the executive producers. Amblin Television’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey will co-executive produce, along with Steven Shareshian of Playtone. The series is being written by Band of Brothers alumnus John Orloff, who is also a co-executive producer as is another Band of Brothers alum, Graham Yost.

Spielberg, Hanks & Goetzman originally developed Masters of the Air at HBO, which had long been the home for the trio’s WWII historical work. It was envisioned as the final chapter in a trilogy, following Band of Brothers and The Pacific. Those two minis garnered a total of 43 Emmy nominations and 14 Emmy wins including Outstanding Limited Series for both of them.

However, HBO ultimately left the historical WWII event miniseries space. Masters of the Air eventually moved to Apple, which is building its programming portfolio and is better situated to make the requisite financial commitment.

John Orloff
Orloff Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock

Orloff adapted two Band of Brothers episodes from the Stephen Ambrose book. The author was a consultant on The Pacific.

This is the second statement-making deal in the latter part of this week for Apple, after its multi-year commitment to be the exclusive TV home of Oscar-winning Roma and Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón.

Masters of the Air will stream exclusively on Apple TV+, and it becomes the second project there for Spielberg after the anthology series Amazing Stories. The series will join Apple’s growing offering of sweeping international drama series including Pachinko and Shantaram.

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