Amazon announces movie division to take on Netflix films

Amazon’s feature films will premiere in a cinema and then appear on its Prime Instant Video service within four to eight weeks

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The Independent Culture

Amazon is to begin producing films for cinema release after the online retailer found success with its first foray into original television shows.

Amazon Original Movies will produce and acquire up to a dozen films a year, for release in cinemas as well as viewing through its online video service.

The move follows the double Golden Globes win for Transparent, Amazon Studios’ transgender comedy series and the news that Woody Allen is to produce an original series for the retailer’s digital service.

Amazon’s feature films will premiere in a cinema and then appear on its Prime Instant Video service within four to eight weeks.

Their swift appearance on-demand will further challenge the traditional four month gap between a film appearing at the cinema and its DVD or online release.

Amazon Original Movies will focus on “unique stories, voices and characters from up-and-coming creators”, the retailer said.

Ted Hope, whose credits including Eat Drink Man Woman and American Splendor, will lead the new film division.

Hope said: “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. 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.”

Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, said: “We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films. 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 programme will also benefit film-makers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.”

Amazon is challenging Apple and Netflix, producer of House of Cards, which has also launched a feature film division, for the online viewing audience.

Netflix provoked a backlash from US cinema exhibitors after announcing that its films would debut simultaneously in cinemas and on its streaming service.

Netflix has announced plans to make four films with Adam Sandler, which will debut exclusively on Netflix.