Boosted both by its recent Golden Globe wins—a first for the fledgling online studio—and the fact that it has Woody Allen’s number saved in its phone, Amazon has announced that it’s getting into the movie business. “If you can’t run with the big dogs, you better stay on the porch,” the studio presumably said, peering over the top of its sunglasses and scrolling through its Twitter mentions.
Amazon’s plan is to release up to a dozen feature films a year, all of which will premiere on the streaming service shortly after an initial theatrical release. New Amazon Original Movies creative chief Ted Hope says the plan will revolutionize movie distribution, telling Deadline, “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 four to eight weeks after their theatrical debut.”
Compare this to the strategy of Amazon’s competitor Netflix, which is also planning its first feature film. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend will premiere on Netflix and in IMAX theaters simultaneously, a strategy that has faced objections from theater owners who know damn well that a $15 two-drinks-one-large-popcorn combo only costs a few cents to produce. Meanwhile, Amazon’s approach gives theaters the exclusivity they want, while getting movies onto streaming quickly enough to retain the interest of people who think a film looks okay, but not like “leave the house” okay. Content that people who really want to see something still have to show up at the theater, exhibitors are now free to combat the real downfall of the movie business: Moms with purses full of homemade snacks.