Amazon Studios Is Producing Original MOVIES Now & Wants To Put Them In …

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amazon Movies May Crack Theatrical Windows, But It Won’t Break Them.

After winning acclaim for one of its original television productions, Amazon announced Monday that it would produce and acquire films for theatrical release and early distribution on its Prime Instant Video service.Amazon has taken a big step forward into the world of Hollywood, with plans to create 12 feature films a year that will be released first in movie theaters and then, weeks later, streamed to customers online.Amazon Studios is the latest digital player that aims to upend the film distribution business by releasing films in theaters and on digital platforms earlier than its big studio rivals.

Amazon original movies will be available for US streaming four to eight weeks after they make their debut in theaters, a significant reduction of the window of 39 to 52 weeks that films normally play in theaters before becoming available for streaming. Our goal is to create close to 12 movies a year with production starting later this year.” Price added that the move will not only be beneficial for Amazon customers, “but we hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.” The studio, which launched in 2010, has become known for original TV series such as Transparent, Tumble Leaf, Mozart in the Jungle and Alpha House.

Amazon Studios is fresh off the success of series “Transparent” at the Golden Globes, winning best comedy, and its deal with Woody Allen to produce a new streaming series — accomplishments that have drawn comparisons to online giant Netflix. The development is another step in Amazon’s ambitious plan to increase its entertainment offering to consumers, and an escalation in Amazon’s rivalry with Netflix. It also signals both companies’ broader ambition to revolutionize the so-called windowing system for TV and movies in the traditional entertainment industry.

Both online firms have become stronger rivals to Hollywood studios and television networks, with their growth in subscribers and ability to fund dozens of new projects. In the fall, Netflix announced movie deals with comedian Adam Sandler and said it would release a sequel to the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” simultaneously across the globe and in a select number of Imax theaters. But Amazon’s entry into feature films is unlikely to convince studios to try earlier windows, despite the $30 million Sony’s “The Interview” made in its fire-sale release.

Major theater chains remain adamant that they will not show films that premiere simultaneously in the home or that ignore a 90-day delay between a theatrical premiere and a home entertainment debut. In an e-mail, Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, described the projects as “indie” movies, with budgets between $5 million and $25 million.

It makes the earlier distribution on Amazon’s home delivery service, opposed by theater owners, “an easier pill to swallow,” he says. “Maybe this is the way to bridge this distribution gap,” says Bock. “It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Barring an “Interview”-style crisis, though, major studios can’t play around much with windows without risking a theatrical boycott. “You’ve seen the windows slip a little over the past several years and they may slip a little further, but it won’t be that huge a change,” said Marla Backer, an analyst with Ascendiant Capital Markets. “Studios have so much money invested in these huge films, they’re not going to play games with their smaller budgeted ones. Analysts cautioned that if the films were low-budget and of low quality, it would be difficult for them to profoundly alter the conventional system for theatrical releases.

Right now, they are another player in a tough marketplace.” The original movies initiative will be led by indie-film veteran Ted Hope, who co-founded and ran Good Machine, the production company behind Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger. Still, said Rich Greenfield, a media analyst with BTIG Research, the announcement adds to the pressure on traditional business models and gives consumers more of what they want. “In 2015, consumers don’t understand why there is an exceedingly wide gap between seeing a movie in a theater or seeing a movie at home,” he said. Monday’s news comes one week after Amazon’s original series “Transparent,” a dark comedy about a family in which the father comes out as transgender, won a Golden Globe for television comedy. You can’t expect things to stay like they did 10 years ago at the height of the DVD business.” Amazon is clearly looking to make its Amazon Prime business more attractive to consumers. Price said that the film projects would not go through the same pilot process as its television series, where the company decides whether to go forward with projects partly based on viewer feedback. “Though a lot of the attention in the industry and press has been focused recently on television series, and it is indeed a new golden era in television, we think the death of film has been greatly exaggerated and films can and will continue to be a vital, brilliant and unique part of culture in America and throughout the world,” Price said in the e-mail.

At $99 a year, the service offers up two-day shipping and unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows on more than 600 devices on which the Amazon Prime app is available. Golden Globe-winner “Transparent” brought instant visibility to its content offerings — the same way “House of Cards” boosted the profile of Netflix. And it’s starting to attract notable filmmakers including Woody Allen, Whit Stillman, Steven Soderbergh, David Gordon Green, Paul Weitz and more to create TV shows through its Amazon Originals program. Amazon has the flexibility to experiment, because the kind of films it wants to make are in the $5 million to $25 million range — possibly higher budgeted than many niche films, they could be the kind of creatively fulfilling projects that can attract top talent.

So if theater owners protest Amazon’s announcement it will mostly be instinct motivating their reaction, not any specific knowledge of Amazon’s likely success at picking and financing hit movies.” “Consumers don’t want and do not understand release windows,” BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield said. “We live in a connected world where there is no reason for a 90-day window before home video — as usual, innovation has to come from outside the traditional film industry.”

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