Amazon Announces Plans for Theatrical Films
Amazon won’t be satisfied until it has a hand in just about every business – everywhere. This morning, the online retailer – that sells books, DVDs, power tools, runs its own on-demand video service (and content studio) and makes tablets, smartphones, and even diapers – announced that it has plans to produce original, theatrically released movies, with the intention of then sending those movies to its Amazon Prime Instant Video service 30 to 60 days after the premiere.
According to the announcement, Amazon will “produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video.”
“Whereas it typically takes 39 to 52 weeks for theatrical movies to premiere on subscription video services,” the announcement says, “Amazon Original Movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. just 4 to 8 weeks after their theatrical debut.”
It’s a bold plan, and certainly a unique one for a company like Amazon. Netflix, for instance, has lots of original content, but has so far kept that content out of theaters. Amazon is looking to break that cycle, following on the successes of its recent spate of Golden Globe wins for Transparent, one of its most successful original programs so far.
Even more ambitious is the fact that Amazon Original Movies plans to release 12 films per year – or roughly one a month. The studio’s creative development is under the purview of Ted Hope, the cofounder of Good Machine, which the announcement points out had produced Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. As to whether or not Hope’s leadership can translate into theatrical success for Amazon remains to be seen.
It’s an interesting announcement, and increasingly typical of Amazon’s altogether atypical business plans. It’s become entirely impossible to predict what Amazon will do next, since it is seemingly attempting to do everything – profits be damned. In 2014, the company hit a major stumbling block in the form of the Amazon Fire Phone, an Android-based smartphone that basically no one bought. The company has failed to earn profits year after year, an outcome that many boosters have blamed on Amazon’s untamed growth. But 2014 saw less growth than other years, leading many to wonder if the reach of CEO Jeff Bezos might be exceeding his grasp.
Is Amazon’s business plan just one long con, with venture after venture being rolled out despite not earning profits for the company? Or is Bezos’s genius so grand that he’ll truly have the last laugh when we’re all citizens of the united States of Amazon?