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Movies Television The Internet The Media Entertainment

Amazon Plans To Release 12 Movies a Year In Theaters and On Prime 92

An anonymous reader writes "Amazon has announced that it will begin to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video. From the article: "This is a big move from Amazon, as it seeks to narrow the theatrical release window to between four and eight weeks. It can often take up to a year for films to land on subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, however they do typically land on DVD/Blu-ray within around four months. Production for the aptly titled 'Amazon Original Movies' program will kick off in 2015, and plans are afoot to create around a dozen original titles for release in cinemas each year."
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Amazon Plans To Release 12 Movies a Year In Theaters and On Prime

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  • Thanks for the Amazon ad!

    You're getting paid? I hope.

    • Re:Wow! Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @01:31PM (#48850575)

      Thanks for the Amazon ad!

      How is it an ad if they aren't selling anything yet?

      Anyway, I wish Amazon the best of luck. The incumbent film studios don't release many films for home streaming because they think people will have to go to the theater or buy the DVD. Instead, they are getting some competition that is willing to give customers what they what.

      • Well, Amazon is purely releasing these to have something to sell on their streaming store ... so it's all about revenue for them.

        So, while it might give some new content to people, there's no guarantee it will be any good.

        If a company starts making films because of a dearth of things which can be streamed, and to cut down on the turnaround time between theatrical and streaming release ... well, that's pretty much just cynical marketing.

        If they produce garbage, other than padding their own pockets, then this

        • Re:Wow! Cool! (Score:5, Informative)

          by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @02:14PM (#48850931) Journal

          Does Amazon have any history of producing good content? Or is this just out of the blue?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Studios [wikipedia.org]

          They've been at it since 2013.
          One of their original shows just won Best TV and Best Actor at the Golden Globes.

          • Cool, never heard of it ... but I'm happy that they're apparently actually making good programming.

            Lots of people can make programming, but so few of them know how to make anything which isn't complete crap.

            • by lgw ( 121541 )

              Hollywood has set the bar so low you'd need trenching equipment not to clear it. Every big-budget movie in 2015 will be a sequel or reboot. Pretty much the only Hollywood fare that I expect to be a little original are the superhero movies, which while they'll be a predictable sack of tropes, we've seen new stories within the established comic book worlds, so at least some original writing within that constraint (plus utter shit like the Spiderman stuff).

              • Re:Wow! Cool! (Score:5, Interesting)

                by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @03:40PM (#48851487)

                Just speaking for 2014... Birdman, Unbroken, American Sniper, Selma, Wild, Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash. All sequels and reboots? This was an amazing year for movies and it's really not that exceptional. There's a lot of crap too but 90% of everything is crap.

                The big budget movies are usually franchises because franchises are the only way you can get half a billion dollars in box office. A lot of great movies are made every year. Judging Hollywood by Captain America sequels would be like saying Boeing only makes bombers.

                I mean, these Amazon movies won't be "big" budget by any standard, either, probably no more than $50 million.

                • by lgw ( 121541 )

                  Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel, and Wild - are distributed in the US by Fox Searchlight, which is the "indie films" distribution unit of Fox. How indie these films really were I'm not hipster enough to have any opinion on, but Birdman and Wild premiered at film festivals, and GBH was a British-German co-production. Whiplash premiered at Sundance and was only picked up by Sony some time after that. Why would you call these Hollywood films?

                  American Sniper? Maybe. Also premiered at a film festival, and C

                  • It seems like you've got this term, "Hollywood System." Like "True Scotsman," it can mean whatever you want it to mean.

                    Well, let's see. Birdman was directing by a famously weird Mexican filmmaker, but it was produced by New Regency pictures, which is Arnon Milchan's company. They also produced Noah and In Time, that's relatively Hollywood enough.

                    Grand Budapest was produced by Scott Rudin, of Captain Phillips, Moneyball, and most of Wes Anderson's other films. Rubin produced movies like Ransom and Sister

                    • Mistake on my part: Plan B isn't Jeremy Keliner's company, he's just an executive there. Plan B is Brad Pitt's company

                    • by lgw ( 121541 )

                      Ahh, you work in the industry. Well, it's all your fault then.

                    • Exactly. And you're living in a Just World Fallacy where if streaming and piracy hand the film industry to Netflix and Amazon on a silver platter, we'll all be better off because everyone will get what they deserved. Hollywood sucks a priori, no knowledge or thought required.

                      That you believe this isn't too remarkable, a lot of people have unwarranted faith in systems, particularly when that system is the Internet. That you manage to believe this without actually knowing anything about the entertainment i

              • Hollywood has set the bar so low you'd need trenching equipment not to clear it.

                the bar as always been low.

                old farts (like me) do this thing where they remember only the good movies from their childhood. across a lifetime there are many memorable movies. movies were better when i was young! what they don't remember are the thousands of duds, of course, because they weren't memorable movies.

        • They are making some good TV shows. Though I suppose it's more accurate to say that they are hiring good people to make good TV shows for them.

          They started in 2013 with two series for adults, Alpha House and Betas. (Amazon has also made some shows for children that I have not watched.) They were merely OK. (Alpha House did well enough to get renewed for a second season. Betas, which I liked more than Alpha House, sadly did not.) But the two new ones in 2014, Transparent and Mozart In The Jungle, were both a

      • How is it an ad if they aren't selling anything yet?

        The difference between sales and marketing advertising is that sales advertising is designed to sell an existing product while marketing advertising is designed to get the product in the mind of people who might eventually purchase it. In marketing the product need on yet exist. This is a marketing ad. It is the same as all the ads for movies that are yet to be released.

        • So ... sales lies to you once the product exists, and marketing starts lying to you before the product is done?

          Thanks for clearing that up. :-P

      • How is it an ad if they aren't selling anything yet?

        Sorry, then it's hype, even worse. And I believe their competition is Netflix, not the major studios.

      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        Thanks for the Amazon ad!

        How is it an ad if they aren't selling anything yet?

        Are they not selling Amazon Prime service, with a one-year commitment requirement -- while this article talks about a feature coming sometime in 2015?

      • Re:Wow! Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @03:28PM (#48851411)

        The incumbent film studios don't release many films for home streaming because they think people will have to go to the theater or buy the DVD.

        The filmmakers would generally prefer theatrical, since it has the best reach, tends to present the work in the highest quality, and contractual royalties and residuals are most favorable to theatrical release.

        The studios (the "producers" and production companies) are indifferent, they like making money off the movie wherever. They prefer theatrical because theatrical usually produces the most revenue but this isn't always true for all films.

        The distribution companies would love to launch everything day-in-date, and they love streaming since they usually get a fatter cut of the revenue.

        The theaters (the "theatrical exhibitors") are hell bent against day-in-date streaming because they believe they'll lose attendance to it. When a studio attempts to release a movie day-in-date on streaming or DVD, like Universal tried to do with Tower Heist, the theaters band together and refuse to release the movie. Theater chains generally won't agree to screen a film without a contractual blackout period.

        • The incumbent film studios don't release many films for home streaming because they think people will have to go to the theater or buy the DVD.

          The filmmakers would generally prefer theatrical, since it has the best reach, tends to present the work in the highest quality, and contractual royalties and residuals are most favorable to theatrical release.

          The studios (the "producers" and production companies) are indifferent, they like making money off the movie wherever. They prefer theatrical because theatrical usually produces the most revenue but this isn't always true for all films.

          The distribution companies would love to launch everything day-in-date, and they love streaming since they usually get a fatter cut of the revenue.

          The theaters (the "theatrical exhibitors") are hell bent against day-in-date streaming because they believe they'll lose attendance to it. When a studio attempts to release a movie day-in-date on streaming or DVD, like Universal tried to do with Tower Heist, the theaters band together and refuse to release the movie. Theater chains generally won't agree to screen a film without a contractual blackout period.

          The Customers presumably don't count.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Blah blah blah on the internet!

    Our grandchildren will envy us for the heady times we live in.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They have run out of ideas and have officially gone insane. The best way to lose tons of money is to get into the entertainment industry. Remember how it worked out for the WB and UPN, and they were already experienced players in the industry.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @01:52PM (#48850747)

      WB and UPN, and they were already experienced players in the industry.

      In times of rapid technological change, being an "experienced player" is often an impediment, not a benefit. Just ask Borders and Barnes&Noble.

      • In times of rapid technological change, being an "experienced player" is often an impediment, not a benefit. Just ask Borders and Barnes&Noble.

        But look at Disney.

        Founded 1923.

        Significant presence and impact in all media from the beginning. Jump-started the modern family oriented theme park and the ABC television network with "Disneyland."

        No less a driving force in color television sales with "The Wonderful World of Color." You can't say anything meaningful about the evolution of cable TV without mentioning HBO, the Disney Channel and ESPN.

        The musical adaptaion of The Lion King had a ten year run in London.

        The geek obsesses over porn, but, my god,

        • The musical adaptaion of The Lion King had a ten year run in London.

          Not just that - you'd be hard pressed to find more than a couple popular musicals on Broadway right now that isn't one of three things: (1) revival; (2) jukebox musical [i.e., one that is a thinly-written story wrapped around a Greatest Hits album]; or (3) big Disney production.

    • by willworkforbeer ( 924558 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @01:58PM (#48850813)
      Did anyone notice during the Sony Pictures mess a revealed a gross margin of around 50%? And it seems Amazon has a captivate market plus millions of eyeballs a day to freely impress marketing upon, whereas traditional studios have to pay-per-eyeball to get the word out.
      • Did anyone notice during the Sony Pictures mess a revealed a gross margin of around 50%?

        Where did you see that?

        • Ok, I grabbed one source here:
          https://www.yahoo.com/movies/s... [yahoo.com]
          And here's the money shot quote:
          "Currently, approximately $1B in production spending can be expected to deliver $500M-$600M in profits,” the letter says. “Through his continued focus on financial discipline, Doug hopes to improve that ratio to a point where $800-$900M in production spending delivers $500-$600M in profits.”
      • Did anyone notice during the Sony Pictures mess a revealed a gross margin of around 50%?

        If this is true, how would it compare with the movie studios' usual "Hollywood Accounting" claims that films don't make back the money invested in them? We all know that this isn't true, but it would be interesting if leaked movie studio documents showed that they knew this was false also.

        • If this is true, how would it compare with the movie studios' usual "Hollywood Accounting" claims that films don't make back the money invested in them?

          The difference between GAAP profit-and-loss and Hollywood Accounting has to do with contractual terminology. I you ever see a residuals statement you'll see that they never are structured in terms of revenue, profit and costs, they always use terms like "proceeds" and "expenses" [boingboing.net]. A movie can profit on a GAAP basis but still never pay residuals (never "make

    • There were already product distribution players in the industry when Amazon came along, am I right?

      They have not run out of ideas, as evidenced by this idea to stream stuff.

      The entertainment industry is not the best way to lose tons of money [onecentatatime.com]

      80 Ways to lose money foolishly

      .

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Everyone with your attitude sold their stock a year ago when the Fire Phone came out.

  • for "buy to own" download and if it sells for $2 a year later just in case I delete it or lose a hd. at $2-5 "to own" I'd probably buy 100's of movies per year, yah eventually I'd have them all but if they're so cheap I wouldn't care if I lost them.

    • I really hope there's a way to buy/rent the movies without having to sign up for a monthly service. I really don't like the way things are headed right now. $99 a year for a Amazon, $7.99 a month for Netflix. $7.99 a month for Hulu. And they all have some content you can only get on their service. Give it a few years and a few more providers, and online offerings are going to cost almost the same amount as cable TV currently does. There needs to be some kind of method of renting/buying individual shows/
      • Sure the total of all available services will be high, but you will still have the choice of only subscribing to the ones that you want. If someone only wants Netflix, it's still only 8$ per month.

        Anyway most of these services are only available to the U.S.A. so right now it's not really a problem for the rest of the world. It's Netflix or nothing.

        • Sure the total of all available services will be high, but you will still have the choice of only subscribing to the ones that you want. If someone only wants Netflix, it's still only 8$ per month.

          Furthermore, there's currently no contracts keeping you on a service. Say you wanted to watch Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Netflix. You sign up, watch it in a month, and then decide that nothing else in the inventory matches your tastes. You could cancel your subscription until Season 2 is released. T

      • It is the same as cable if you think of Hulu & Netflix as the *new* networks. The difference is instead of paying your cable provider you're paying the networks directly.

      • >$5-$6 for a movie rental way too high a price to be asking. It should be much close to $2 for a movie rental, or 25 to 50 cents for a tv show.

        I actually agree with you (but actually think it should be even less than that per TV show -- literally nickeling and diming.. for a VERY few shows I'd pay more)..

        But $5-6 isn't really all that much, comparatively. Using the inflation calculator at http://data.bls.gov/ [bls.gov] $4 in 1998 is $5.81 in 2014. Originally Netflix (DVDs, of course) was $16/month, for 4 movies

  • ...considering the kind of crap they sell on Amazon, it's more like they will release 12 flops a year.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know. I think Son of Sharknado could be a hit!

    • by rhazz ( 2853871 )
      It worked for Netflix, it will probably work for Amazon. They are buying the content from actual film studios rather than producing it themselves, so it just comes down whether or not they can buy shows that will be popular. Some of the "Netflix-original" content is pretty good.
      • I tried to watch a few movies made by Asylum and they were really just terrible. The new TV series Z Nation seems to be backed by Netflix however, so maybe Asylum only needs a better budget to produce something decent. Z Nation may not be on the same quality level as The Walking Dead or as serious, but it's fun to watch nonetheless. The random references to other movies or TV shows (so far, Sharknado and The Walking Dead) made me laugh.

      • Netflix famously had their corpus of user preferences and tracking data, so they have really good metrics on exactly what they think people would like to see. Amazon does something different, they do pilots and then they solicit public votes and comment.

        I think either have their strengths and weaknesses, Netflix's stuff is generally guaranteed to hit but their biggest product is effectively a reboot of an existing media property.

        Both processes seems sorta artist-hostile.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @01:50PM (#48850737)

    I think Amazon's doing this to blunt attempts by content providers, whether HBO, ESPN, etc. (or even the production companies themselves) to bypass middlemen like cable companies, Netflix, Amazon, etc. by bringing their own paid streaming content to market.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @02:05PM (#48850863) Journal

      Alternatively you could look at it as vertical integration. The premium cable group is really the only segment trying to 'bypass the middle man' the Studio's etc are doing just about anything they can to protect their old distribution model:

      1) Sell it to the theaters (period of exclusivity)
      2) Sell it to the second run theaters (shorter period of exclusivity)
      3) Home video release
      4) Streaming (new and constantly tinkered with)

      Netflix and Amazon have both discovered the existing content industry merely tolerates them, if anything as way to scape a little more revenue in from folks who otherwise would have just gone the piratebay.{whatever it is this week}. They are not really interesting in offering licensing terms that given the streaming guys much of a "piece of the action" on any valuable properties. So rather than wait around for Studios to 'cut out the middle man' Netflix and Amazon are getting into the content business, makes sense.

      The next logical step is for Amazon (who has more capital than Netflix) to go after the other distribution channels, why leave money on the table. Maybe you can get $20 worth of theater ticket sales once in a while outa somebody that otherwise won't subscribe to prime.

    • by schlachter ( 862210 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @02:19PM (#48850967)

      Streaming will become a commodity as there are multiple reliable/convenient methods to access content. Content will be the differentiator, and Amazon isn't going to want to rely on a third party relationship to provide that.

      Cue the count down until Disney is bought by Apple for similar reasons.

  • by CosaNostra Pizza Inc ( 1299163 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @01:54PM (#48850785)
    As an Amazon Prime member, I have this to say: COOL!!
  • and Netflix sucks. The stores had literally thousands of movies to choose from, but Netflix? A few dozen mediocre titles... I want my DVD backlog opportunity back, not more productions, from yet another source!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh come on, Netflix has several hundred mediocre titles available for streaming, give some credit :)

      Also just FYI, Netflix does have a service where they mail you DVDs with a much larger library than streaming, you might not have heard of it it's only been around since 1997

    • Try your local library. Obviously, local selection will vary, but my library has a decent selection of movie titles and gets new ones in as they are released. They also have a website where I can request titles from the regional library system so that a DVD will be sent to my local library for me to pick it up. I can also renew online so I don't need to drag it back to the library just to get another couple of days with the DVD before paying late fees.

      And the best feature of all? It's free. Well, effec

    • What the heck are you talking about?

      Netflix has FAR FAR more DVDs than any local store can have.

      (BTW, I haven't been a subscriber for a while now, but was for well over a decade...)

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @03:33PM (#48851441)

    Transparent won a couple of Golden Globes, but "Bosch" hasn't started streaming yet and Chris Carter's "The After" mysteriously got cancelled almost a year after it was a winner in the same pilot voting "election" as Bosch.

    I think someone trying to reinvent the "system" of creating filmed content is laudable and worthwhile, I'm just curious if Amazon really has put more thought into this than "vertical integration" and assuming that whatever insight they have into package delivery logistics and cloud computing is somehow universally applicable to something like film/tv production. They wouldn't be the first "geniuses" to take hubris to a new level only to discover that doing A well means nothing when it comes to doing B well. We see plenty of that when A and B aren't all that different.

    I think faster (and more complete) turnaround of announced content would definitely help, I also wonder if it would make sense to rethink some of the streaming assumptions -- like, why straightjacket yourself into the one hour episode format? Why not two hour episodes, but fewer of them? Does the entire series have to available all at once, or could faster release cycles from pilots to episodes be accomplished by releasing a group of episodes every 60-90 days to allow for simultaneous shooting and releases?

      Should they dilute their resources producing a bunch of one-hour pilots, or should they be a little more discriminating and look at a pilot instead as a more complete story arc and make 3 episodes? That way even failures that didn't become series could at least be watchable, self-contained miniseries adding value to the catalog instead of just becoming trivial ephemera? Maybe the desire to make more typical "movies" is part of this.

    • I think faster (and more complete) turnaround of announced content would definitely help, I also wonder if it would make sense to rethink some of the streaming assumptions -- like, why straightjacket yourself into the one hour episode format? Why not two hour episodes, but fewer of them?

      I think the biggest factor is the insistence on releasing entire seasons at once, it's hard to produce a season of TV in under a year. I've worked on a few HBO miniseries and those only went around six episodes, but they we

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I'm not sure anything's a fair comparison with an HBO series, mini or otherwise. HBO programming has a staggering production quality whose peers really are only big-budget Hollywood movies.

        Most TV series (other than HBO) have simpler production values all around, from costumes to sets to location shooting and generally even to cast sizes and extras. This makes them cheaper but I would also guess makes them faster to shoot, since as the AD is fond of yelling, "Time is money people!"

        I suppose Amazon and Ne

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          Yeah that's because you are used to watching cheap ass American TV. On the other hand living in the U.K. I expect and get that sort of production quality in all/most drama series produced primarily for the U.K. market.

    • "The After" was absolutely terrible. I am pretty sure it was a ballot box stuffing / fake user rating bonanza. IT had 15,000 reviews which is 5-10x as many as most classic shows (like X-files, Firefly, Star Trek), and as much as Transparent which won 2 major awards (not my cup of tea but clearly more popular than The After).

      It had 2x the reviews as many popular movies such a Hunger Games 2, World War Z, the new Star Treks, etc etc. The whole thing was like the start of a bad joke. "A clown, lawyer, ho

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        "The After" was absolutely terrible.

        I keep hearing this said, but that wasn't my impression nor does it seem especially fair after ONE episode.

        The genre it seems to belong to has a pretty low bar for entry -- Fringe was like 5 seasons, and having begun watching it recently I'm already kind of tired of it. It follows such a set formula I feel like *I* could write episodes for it -- new fringey event, nutty professor solves puzzle with application of physics, medicine and biology with a little help from moody Fed Boss and ActionGirl, last 3 mi

        • I really liked Fringe but Revolution and Falling Skies were pretty bad, agreed.

          I mean to each his/her own, but I was truly shocked at how bad The After was after watching just the one pilot.

  • Movie financing is a weird game. It is easy to get hosed for a lot of money if you don't hedge your bets. Also you are dealing with a lot of different unions. I know it seems easy, find a good project, fund it. But tripleAAA titles are hard to come by, then you have to secure a director that is free, sign actors with a free schedule. That's the easy parts. Plus the exhibitors have close relations with the distributors who might not want AMC releasing other products. They can and will hold back the
  • All these third party people making movies and nobody has thought about a firefly movie which we all know will make money given how much its short tenure has woeven its way into pop culture.

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