Is Amazon Getting Into The Movie Business?

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After a big win at the Golden Globes where new show Transparent took home the prize for Best TV Series, Comedy and Best Performance By An Actor In A TV Comedy, Amazon Studios is probably still enjoying a well deserved victory lap. So what better time to announce the platform’s next big move: movies. Now that they’ve gotten a taste of small screen glory, that company has announced an ambitious plan to conquer the big screen as well. According to The Hollywood Reporter Amazon aims to produce an impressive 12 films per year starting in the later half of 2015.

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Unlike Amazon’s original television series, which air exclusively online through Amazon Instant Video, Amazon films are aiming for wide release in movie theaters. The films will play exclusively in theaters for a proposed four to eight week window before coming him to Amazon Instant Video where they can be streamed for free by Amazon Prime subscribers. That’s a major bonus for Amazon’s loyal streaming customers who can now look forward to enjoying 12 original films per year in addition to Amazon’s slate of original shows, pilots, and extensive catalog of movies and TV from other sources.

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The plan is ambitious, but also risky. In the recent past, movie theater chains haven’t been keen on embracing films that are available for simultaneous streaming. Theaters have already seen home entertainment systems cutting into their profits. The threat of more potential movie-goers choosing to stay home and stream movies for little or no money rather than pay skyrocketing ticket prices is one they take seriously. That’s likely why Amazon chose to stay away from day-and-date release for its new films and giving theaters an exclusive window on its new films. Competitor Netflix also announced last year that it was getting into the movie business but unlike Amazon, Netflix original movies will go straight to streaming and bypass theaters entirely.

The recent release of The Interview on digital platforms proves that big-budget films can earn money online, but it also proved that without a smart strategy they can lose money as well.  Whether or not movie fans will be willing to cough up the price of theater tickets rather than just wait for films to show up on Amazon Prime is an open question. It will mostly likely depend on the quality of the films and the talent involved in creating them. Amazon has yet to announce any potential directors, writers, or stars for its upcoming slate of films, though a recent television deal with director Woody Allen suggests that Amazon isn’t shy about paying for big names.

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