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Apple says it will expand staff in Culver City, a sign of its growing entertainment ambitions

Apple says it will expand staff in Culver City, a sign of its growing entertainment ambitions
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook opens the company's annual product launch on Sept. 12 in Cupertino, Calif. (Karl Mondon / TNS)

Apple said Thursday that it is ramping up its staff in Culver City as it looks to become a bigger player in Hollywood.

The iPhone maker plans to grow the number of employees in Culver City to more than 1,000 people over the next three years, the company said. In January, Apple leased a four-story building near Culver City’s art gallery district, a property that HBO had once planned to lease.

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The company, which is based in Cupertino, Calif., is expected to spend $1 billion this year on original content, spending that will increase to $4.2 billion in 2022, according to venture capital firm Loup Ventures.

Apple has landed high-profile deals with studios such as A24, which was behind the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight.” Programs include a drama about a morning show starring Steve Carell. Apple also has ordered a series called “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” starring Jennifer Garner. It will be executive produced by Garner and Emmy-winning director J.J. Abrams, who both worked on “Alias.”

The company is investing in original content at a time when investors are concerned that its main business — selling iPhones — is slowing in growth. Apple has been focused on building up other businesses, including subscription services, such as its streaming service Apple Music. Apple has yet to publicly announce how its original shows and movies would be distributed. The tech giant plans to launch a streaming television service next year, according to digital media company the Information.

Apple declined to say how many it employs in Culver City, but sources say several hundred people already work there.

“We’re thrilled,” said Culver City Mayor Thomas Small. “Having a company like Apple as a partner is a very exciting prospect for Culver City.”

The company established a significant footprint in the area after it acquired Beats Electronics in 2014 for $3 billion, in an effort to enter into the streaming music space. At the time, Beats had roughly 700 employees in Culver City and Apple was expected to lay off roughly 200 workers in 2014. Since then, Apple has been hiring people to build up its efforts in video. One recent hire includes Tamara Hunter, Apple’s head of casting for Worldwide Video, who was previously head of feature casting for Sony Pictures Entertainment. She worked on projects such as “Hotel Transylvania” and “Venom.”

The Culver City expansion was part of a larger announcement Apple made on Thursday that highlighted a $1-billion investment in a new campus in North Austin. Apple said it was adding thousands of jobs, including in Seattle and San Diego.

“Talent, creativity and tomorrow’s breakthrough ideas aren’t limited by region or ZIP Code, and, with this new expansion, we’re redoubling our commitment to cultivating the high-tech sector and workforce nationwide,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a statement.

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