business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Variety reports that Amazon, fresh from having one Golden Globes for its streaming television series "Transparent," has announced that " it will produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early-window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video starting in 2015 ... According to Amazon, it expects to produce about 12 movies per year, indie-style projects with budgets ranging from $5 million to $25 million per title. Amazon said its original movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. just four to eight weeks after their theatrical debut — versus up to a year for regular windowing."

The plan is not without controversy within that industry: "A key question at this point is whether Amazon’s four to eight week theatrical release window will be long enough to convince theater chains to exhibit the films," Variety writes. "Movie theaters have balked at early digital releases; major chains have said publicly their preference is for minimum windows of 90 days in the cinema to maximize ticket sales."

I have to admit that I'm a little conflicted about Amazon's decision here.

On the one hand, it seems entirely typical. The company has made its reputation challenging conventional methods of doing business. So suggesting that it will try to reduce the amount of time between theatrical releases and home streaming releases is completely in character ... though, as usually happens, traditional businesses challenged by this move are likely to fight back.

I'm just not sure why Amazon would want to get involved with a traditional business model like the theatrical film game. It is hard enough for any movie other than major, tentpole-style blockbusters to get any sort of traction in movie theaters, and I can't see Amazon producing "Transformers 12" or "Jurassic Park 9."

I always think that companies like Amazon are better served when they are working against the system, and doing so in the name of consumer choice. That's when the Amazon option becomes an Eye-Opener ... at least in my humble opinion.
KC's View: