Amazon is getting into the moviemaking business


When Netflix announced that it was developing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2, there was a lot of surprise. Netflix has been hitting original television programming pretty hardcore (and striking gold on several occasions, I might add), but this was a major step forward. The decision to release it day-and-date in theaters and on Netflix was a bold move, if nothing else, and many theaters revolted.

Amazon, which has just announced its own plans to release original films under its Amazon Studios banner, will not be putting up a fight. The films that they release (twelve “prestige” movies per year, they say) will be theatrical releases originally but wind up on Prime Instant Video 30-60 days afterwards. Considering how much longer it usually takes for films to end up on these services, it’s something, but I would love it if Amazon took a stand alongside Netflix to fight the big theater chains.

Regardless, this is an interesting move, and it will be fascinating to see what comes of it. Promising the equivalent of a movie every month is some serious commitment, and that will be a pretty massive undertaking, even assuming that each film will be reasonably low budget (which is probably (but not definitely) a fair assumption). The man heading things up is Ted Hope, whose company produced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which is pretty funny, if you think about it). And while he has apparently won a whole bunch of producing awards at Sundance, I expect he’ll have a bit less creative control when he’s overseeing so many projects simultaneously.

Either way, this is definitely a positive. More studios putting out original movies can never be a bad thing, and whether the films ultimately end up being “prestige” quality, I am interested in seeing what the company can come up with.

Full press release below.

Amazon to Produce Original Movies for Theaters, Prime Instant Video

Production to begin in 2015 with the goal of bringing customers a dozen original, prestige movies each year

Movies will launch in theaters and come to Prime Instant Video 30-60 days after theatrical premiere

Ted Hope to lead creative as Head of Production, Amazon Original Movies

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jan. 19, 2015– (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon Studios, known for television series such as multi-Golden Globe winner Transparent, Annie-nominated Tumble Leaf, and  Mozart in the Jungle, today announced that it will begin to 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, Amazon Original Movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. just 4 to 8 weeks after their theatrical debut. Amazon Original Movies will focus on unique stories, voices, and characters from top and up-and-coming creators.

“We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films. Our goal is to create close to twelve movies a year with production starting later this year,” said  Roy Price, Vice President, Amazon Studios. “Not only will we bring Prime Instant Video customers exciting, unique, and exclusive films soon after a movie’s theatrical run, but we hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.”

Amazon Original Movies creative development will be led by independent film visionary  Ted Hope. Hope co-founded and ran production company Good Machine, which produced notable and Academy Award-nominated films such as Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Hope’s films have received some of the industry’s most prestigious honors including numerous Academy Award and BAFTA nominations. Hope has also won The Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival more often than any other producer at the festival with his films American SplendorThe Brothers McMullen, and What Happened Was….

“Audiences already recognize that Amazon has raised the bar with productions in the episodic realm, tackling bold material in unique ways and collaborating with top talent, both established and emerging. To help carry the torch into the feature film world for such an innovative company is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility,” said  Ted Hope, the new Head of Production for Amazon Original Movies. “Amazon Original Movies will be synonymous with films that amaze, excite, and move our fans, wherever customers watch. I am incredibly thrilled to be part of this.”

About Prime Instant Video

Amazon Prime members can enjoy tens of thousands of TV episodes and movies with Prime Instant Video, Amazon’s video subscription service, via the Amazon Instant Video app on Fire TV, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, and certain smart TVs. They can also use the Amazon Instant Video app to watch on mobile devices, including Fire tablets, Fire phone, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, as well as hundreds of other connected devices—or customers can visit to watch online.

About Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios most recently debuted its dramatic comedy  Mozart in the Jungle from  Roman CoppolaJason SchwartzmanPaul WeitzJohn Strauss and  Alex Timbers as well as Jill Soloway’s multi-Golden Globe Award-winning dark comedy Transparent; its first live-action series for kids 6-11, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street; and a second season of the Garry Trudeau political comedy  Alpha House. The studio has also launched three additional children’s series, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival Award-winning and Annie Award-nominatedTumble Leaf from Bix Pix EntertainmentCreative Galaxy from  Angela Santomero and Out of the Blue Enterprises, the creators of Blue’s Clues; and Annedroids, from Emmy nominated Sinking Ship Entertainment.

Amazon Studios has also announced four additional, original series to debut in 2015, including Michael Connelly’s BoschHand of God from Marc Forster and  Ben Watkins Red Oaks from  Steven SoderberghDavid Gordon GreenGreg Jacobs and  Joe Gangemi; and kids seriesWishenpoof! from  Angela Santomero and Out of the Blue Enterprises; as well as a second season of Transparent.

Amazon Studios launched in 2010 as a new way to develop feature films and episodic series—one that’s open to great ideas from creators and audiences around the world. Anyone can upload a script online and Amazon Studios will read and review all submissions. Those who choose to make their projects public can also receive feedback from the Amazon Studios community.

Comprehensive cast and crew information, including bios and filmographies, is available on Amazon’s IMDb (, the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content.

About Amazon opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995. The company is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire phone, Fire tablets, and Fire TV are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon.