Tom Hanks Confesses He Was ‘Heartbroken’ Over Greyhound Not Going To Theaters

Tom Hanks in Greyhound

Tom Hanks is the definition of a Movie Star. He has been for decades. If you want to see the “new Tom Hanks movie,” you go to a theater. Well, you used to. Movie stars exist on streaming platforms now, whether its Charlize Theron in The Old Guard, Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams in Eurovision Song Contest, or directors like Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese making movies for Netflix. The business has changed, and Hanks is changing with it, even though it breaks his heart a little.

The A-lister brings his latest film Greyhound to Apple TV+ starting on July 10, though only after it was due to have a theatrical run. In the film, Hanks plays a U.S. Navy Commander who is tasked with leading an Allied convoy across a patch of ocean that is littered with German U-boats. During a recent press day, Tom Hanks told CinemaBlend he was very thankful for the opportunity that Apple TV+ has given his movie, but couldn’t hide his disappointment at the current state of movies in theaters. Hanks said:

We were all heartbroken that this movie is not playing in cinemas. It broke our hearts. When we realized that we were going to have to either wait for X number of months before we would have to fight in order to get screens in the midst of this huge glut of movies… As a producer, let me put it to you this way. As a producer, we were going to come out June 8th. We were going to come out a week after Wonder Woman, and a week before Top Gun 2. We were going to be in the midst of that brutal fisticuff battle for screens, for eyeballs, for awareness, for a marketing campaign, money that would have to be spent on prints and advertising. And we were going to be, probably, the runt of the litter because we're not a franchise. We’d have to go off and fight tooth and nail just for attention. All right. That's the truth.

One of the best things about Tom Hanks is that he’s been around the block in this film industry a dozen times, and he knows how the game is played. Listening to him explain how Greyhound likely would have struggled in the landscape dominated by sequel is refreshing. Disheartening, as well. But refreshing. It’s nuts that we live in a world where Tom Hanks returning to World War II for a submarine thriller would be an underdog at the theaters against Top Gun Maverick and Wonder Woman 1984, but he’s right. And as a producer – and as the star – he said that Apple came around at the ideal moment and gave Greyhound a chance to be seen.

By contemplating the crowded marketplace, Hanks said:

There can be wonderful surprises that come along if a movie lands, but there's only 24 hours in the day, and there's only so many inches even you journalists have in order to dedicate to something. And so we were ready. We were willing to face that. But with that removed, I mean, literally removed as a possibility, we were left with this other reality. We have a movie that is ready to go. That is timely, because of COVID-19. It actually is a theme of emotional physical status. Just as Ernie Krause is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, wondering when, how, if he is going to survive and do his job. We are all in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, which ends up being like five times bigger than we anticipated it being. And we don't know when, how, if we're going to get out of it. And who's going to join us on the other side. With that dropped in our laps by either providence or an indifferent universe, the question was, ‘Is there anything we can do? What can we do in order to get this movie seen?’ If I could have, I would have sold it to CBS and have it on the CBS Sunday Night Movie, put it on an outpost of the BBC, or anything, so that it would play it around the world. The finances didn't exist in order to make that happen. So Apple TV comes along as a savior, and offers us the opportunity to have the movie out. The great advantage is the entire world can see it at the same time. … That's good. That means we’ll get out. There's a financial element to it. That means the movie is officially in the black. It's officially profitable. But with the world being what it is, and the business being what it is and exhibitors going through the pain, what ends up being the best scenario is that the movie can be seen.

He's right. Movie theaters are preferred, but until locations can open, and operate safely, streaming services are bringing valuable content to starving audiences. Hamilton dominated the conversation once it dropped on Disney+ and other movies such as Scoob! and Trolls World Tour helped parents entertain kids in quarantine.

But Tom Hanks knows that seeing Greyhound on Apple TV+ is not the same as seeing it opening weekend in a movie theater. He told us:

Now, it's going to look different on your Apple TVs. It's going to have a different physical quality to the brightness and to the appearance of the movie. It's going to have a different sound than it would have if you were hearing it in a cinema with 800 or 1,200 or 200 other people. You can accept that. Because that's the reality of what your eyeballs see, what your brain takes. The heartbreak is that those 800 people don't get to go into a theater as strangers, watch Greyhound, come out 88 minutes later with something in common. There's no substitute. There's no grander alternative than that, because that's why we're all here. We all love going to the movies, we all love talking about the movies. The new reality is, everybody on the planet Earth has options now as how they pay to be entertained by the stories of their choice. And that's where we are on now. So it's not bad. It's just different. It is disappointing because this movie looks fantastic on a huge screen, mixed the way it is and posted the way we had it. But it's still going to be a 100% physiological experience if it touches the audience the way we hope it does on through the glories of Apple television.

Tom Hanks sees the silver lining in our current, difficult situation. We all love going to the movies. It’s likely why you are reading this site today. And we’re patiently waiting until we’re all able to go back to movie theaters as strangers, and emerge, as Tom Hanks says, with “something in common.” Until then, movies like Greyhound will entertain us on streaming.

Look for the movie on Apple TV+ starting on Friday, July 10.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.