America's largest online retailer, Amazon.com, started as a bookseller, growing into a department store marketplace offering everything from clothes to furniture and its own e-reader, the Kindle. Now it will add making movies it its plans.
The company has launched Amazon Studios, inviting filmmakers and screenwriters to submit films and scripts to an online contest for feedback from readers and consideration by Warner Bros. Studios, its partner in the venture. If Warner's passes on its first-look arrangement, Amazon Studios can sell the project to another studio.
Under this program, announced November 16, if the response to a project is positive, it could win up to $100,000 in monthly competitions and $1,000,000 in its annual awards. The first deadline is January 31, 2011.
Amazon currently offers films for digital download but its intention is to develop a relationship with Hollywood, like YouTube and Netflix. Inspired by online technology, which provides an opportunity to share films easily, the goal of Amazon Studios is to make major feature films.
If an original project is produced by Amazon Studios, the rights payment will be $200,000. If it earns more than $60 million at the box office, the bonus will be $400,000.
Filmmakers can post full-length "test" films of film scripts submitted to the site. There is no charge to participate.
The panelists considering the film projects include screenwriters, producers and university faculty with the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, and screenwriters of films such as Top Gun, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Mask.