Why Amazon Is Getting Into Feature Films | News Entertainment

Why Amazon Is Getting Into Feature Films

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amazon planning original movies for theaters.

The company announced Monday it will produce or acquire a dozen movies a year that will be made available on Amazon Prime Instant Video within two months of their theater premieres. Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) will begin making feature-length movies for theaters, pushing further into Hollywood’s territory after winning its first major television awards last week. For Amazon, the end goal is to get more people to sign up for its Prime service, the $99-a-year membership program that was once just a way to get free shipping. Netflix Inc. (NFLX), which competes with Amazon Prime, announced its own foray into movies in September with a plan to produce a sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Film producer Ted Hope, who worked on the original “Crouching Tiger,” will lead creative development at Amazon Original Movies, according to the statement. Amazon, which started its TV production studio in 2010, on Jan. 11 won the Golden Globe award for best comedy series for “Transparent,” a show about a Los Angeles family who discovers their father is transgender.

The move comes on the heels of Sony Pictures’ unprecedented digital distribution of the Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview.” Netflix has also pushed into movies, inking deals with Adam Sandler and the Weinstein Co. Roy Price, the vice president of Amazon Studios, said in a statement that Amazon will serve as an alternative to the studio system for frustrated filmmakers, “who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.” Original Movies is the latest indication that Amazon is going to try to chase Netflix by adopting that company’s strategy of becoming a content house as well as a distributor. While both Netflix and Amazon license most of their content from elsewhere, media companies generally hold back rights to the best shows because they see Internet subscriptions services as a threat to their traditional businesses.

Analysts think this is a winning strategy, although its hard to track how much of a difference any one show makes to Amazon’s Prime service, given that it consists of many different elements and Amazon isn’t particularly forthcoming with any data about its performance. Regal Entertainment, AMC, and Cinemark haven’t been thrilled with the idea of losing the exclusive windows when they’re the only places people can legally see new releases.

The average time between a theatrical debut and a movie’s release on DVD or streaming services dropped to 119 days in 2013, down from 173 days in 1998, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

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