Today’s Big Six – the major studios that blossomed during the 1930s and 1940s – continue facing upstarts who are leveraging the Internet to grab younger audiences raised on streaming, not movie ticket buying. On Monday, the challenge of bidding for the best directors and scripts got more competitive, as Amazon Studios announced that it will begin to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video.
The Internet giant has already changed the game radically for the book market, while upending much of the retail market for just about anything else you might buy. Now, its Santa Monica-based subsidiary will start regular feature production this year with plans to offer a dozen “prestige” movies each year written from original scripts.
Amazon Studios has already won double Golden Globes for the transgender comedy series Transparent. Meanwhile, established directors like Woody Allen have already signed on to produce an original series.
The studio is also opened up the creation process by soliciting “unique stories, voices, and characters from top and up-and-coming creators” according to a company press release available on its Hollywonk site.
Amazon’s feature films will premiere in a cinema and then appear on its Prime Instant Video service within four to eight weeks. Making the features available for on-demand so quickly could greatly erode the usual four to twelve month gap between a film appearing at the cinema and its DVD or online release.
Amazon Studios creative development will be led by familiar name – long-time, independent film producer Ted Hope. Hope co-founded and ran the New York-based production company Good Machine, which produced films such as Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In a prepared statement, Hope said that Amazon Original Movies will be associated with “films that amaze, excite, and move our fans, wherever customers watch.”
Amazon Studios head Roy Price was also quoted as saying that their program will benefit filmmakers “who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.”