Written by Natalie MootzNatalie has been writing for the web since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Or at least since dinosaurs achieved blogging technology. She's also written for About.com and Joystiq.
Twelve theatrical releases per year
News of Amazon's many new year's resolutions has bombarded the news wires the last couple of weeks. They are at it again today with an announcement that its creative arm, Amazon Studios, will begin producing movies for theatrical release this year. Amazon's goal is to release one movie per month, for a total of twelve, starting this year.
Studio head Ted Hope has an art-house pedigree
Amazon has hired veteran producer Ted Hope, formerly of Good Machine Productions, to lead its Amazon Original Movies division. You may remember Hope was the producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000. Hope has been particularly successful producing "indie" or art-house films -- he's won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize more than any other producer.
Plans to dramatically shorten the video release window
Not only is Amazon going to make its own theatrical content, it's going to attempt to change the on-demand release landscape. Typically, movies aren't released to streaming services for for 39 to 52 weeks after premiering in theaters. However, Amazon Studios wants to release the on-demand versions of their movies within one to two months of their release.
Theater chains aren't exactly thrilled
Last fall, Hope announced a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, called The Green Lantern, whereby the movie would be released in IMAX theaters and on Netflix the same day. The plan won Hope the resentment of theater chains like Regal and AMC which felt the same-day release was an insult to their business and are refusing to screen the film.
Amazon hasn't offered any details on its 2015 film projects, but it's likely given the hiring of Hope and the desire for shortened VOD release windows, that the new studio will be likely to produce indie films rather than blockbusters, which should minimize the threat to theater chains. Many independent films have set the precedent by making their streaming movies available for purchase on the same day, via the IFC First Take program.