Amazon Reveals Plans To Produce Movies For Theatrical Release
Amazon Studios has announced that it will be producing and acquiring original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video, starting this year.
Amazon Original Movies’ creative development will be led by Producer Ted Hope. Hope co-founded and ran the production company Good Machine, which produced “Eat Drink Man Woman” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Earlier this month, Hope stepped down as CEO of Fandor, a streaming-video site which specializes in indie and international titles.
The E-commerce giant is aiming to produce about 12 movies per year. The movies will be indie-style projects, with the potential budgets ranging from $5 million to $25 million per title. Amazon also claimed that its original movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. just four to eight weeks after their theatrical debut, while it would take a year for regular windowing.
This move by Amazon has been fueled after Netflix launched a bid to step its toes into the movie sector, by announcing plans to debut the sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” on the release date in August 2015 in collaboration with Weinstein Co. and IMAX, and has also signed a four-movie deal with Adam Sandler.
“We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films,” Amazon Studios VP Roy Price said in a statement. “Not only will we bring Prime Instant Video customers exciting, unique, and exclusive films soon after a movie’s theatrical run, but we hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.”
One major point to ponder upon is whether Amazon’s theatrical release window of four to eight weeks will be long enough to convince theater chains to show the films. Movie theaters have previously avoided early digital releases, as major chains prefer minimum windows of 90 days in the cinema to maximize ticket sales.
The biggest U.S. theater chains have said they’ll refuse to show “Crouching Tiger 2″ in IMAX because Netflix is releasing it simultaneously on SVOD.
Amazon Studios began to play with TV series, although movies have always been in consideration. And this step proved pretty successful, as the company’s dark comedy, “Transparent,” from Jill Soloway, won a Golden Globe for Best TV Musical and Comedy Series while the star of the series, Jeffrey Tambor bagged the Best Actor in a TV Comedy award.
Over the past year, feature filmmakers including Woody Allen, Steven Soderbergh, Marc Forster, David Gordon Green and Whit Stillman have moved into series production for Amazon.