Amazon To Start Making Films That Will Skip Theatrical Release | Film News
Amazon Studios once again scooped up the distribution rights to plenty of films at last month’s Sundance Film Festival, but the way they release them may be changing. Up until now, the studio has rolled out its original films the traditional way; via a theatrical release.
However, Amazon Studios Chief Jennifer Salke has revealed that they will now make films that debut exclusively on their Prime subscription service.
While this may be disappointing news for traditional cinephiles, Amazon’s hand was practically forced by the upcoming onslaught of streaming competition. Netflix are already a major competitor, and with Disney, Apple and WarnerMedia about to enter the streaming game, this move is designed to drive up Amazon’s subscription numbers.
Thus, Amazon are putting an increased focus on Amazon Prime membership by enticing viewers with exclusive content. Amazon Studios films already arrived on the service 90 days after their cinematic release, but now they will go the direct Netflix route. Not, however, with the titles they purchased at Sundance this year, although Salke did mention that they are “looking at a variety of windows”.
It’s bad news for those that love their theatrical releases, but the silver lining is that it could lead to a shift change in theatre owners’ strict rules regarding theatrical releases. Most cinemas refuse to show films unless they have a guarantee that those films won’t turn up on a streaming service, or on home video, for 90 days.
But the way we consume media is rapidly changing, so these rules could be altered quickly if cinema owners feel they’re about to be left out of profits. Could we see a tactic similar to Netflix’s recent release of Roma? They gave the film a limited theatrical release a few weeks before it arrived online and the response was very positive.
Steven Soderbergh has also pitched an interesting idea of having the ability to throw a film onto a streaming service a week after its theatrical release if it looks like it’s going to be a flop.
With the streaming wars about to heat up over the next 18 months, these are discussions that we will likely be having regularly. Who knows what the cinematic landscape will look like in a few years?