Back in 2010, when Amazon first launched its film studio, their focus was on building a name for themselves by purchasing low-budget films that could win awards.
In spite of accomplishing that dream when they won their first Oscars in 2017 for ‘Manchester by the Sea’ and ‘The Salesman,’ they have decided to scale back on Indie films in a programming shift.
Amazon’s new strategy
Amazon.com Inc has created news in the recent years by purchasing art-house movies at the Sundance Film Festival. This week it is moving to the prestigious event with a long-term change in the works.
It has plans to reallocate the resources to more commercial projects from independent films.
The move mirrors a novel phase in the online trader’s entertainment strategy. Earlier, Amazon focused on intellectual movies that would bring awards, get recognition in Hollywood, and help it draw the best talent.
Amazon, at present, aims at programming targeted at a far wider audience.
What is Amazon’s Central Business Goal?
Its central business goal is to persuade more of the population to join its video streaming service and shopping club Prime.
The shift in the movie strategy of Amazon parallels a similar change in their Studios’ TV operation that is also heading to a bigger financial plan.
Amazon plans to take films with budgets in the $50 million range. Indie projects, that costs around $5 million will not be included. The overall strategy has been confirmed through sources, though Amazon declined to comment.
Who is Responsible For This Move?
The shift in the programming strategy comes after Roy Price resigned in October. He led Amazon Studios from its birth in 2010 and was a champ of projects that had potential to win awards.
The studio’s chief operating officer, Albert Cheng has stepped in as temporary head and is in charge of television projects. Jason Ropell, the Vice President is in charge of the film division. Both of them have to report to a Seattle-based senior vice president, Jeff Blackburn, who exercises broad authority at the company.
It is still uncertain who will replace Price permanently.
The Outcome of the Shift
Amazon is not heading toward the blockbuster territory on the film side. Sources confirmed that simply for the rights to a fantasy prequel series of “The Lord of the Rings,” the TV group had offered $250 million. A source said it is a far pricier project that spells out a bigger change in direction than what the movie division had in mind.
Amazon is not ditching the indie films entirely, though the industry sources cannot be certain how active the company will be this year at Sundance. One can’t anticipate the lineup of the festival to have standouts like “Manchester by the Sea,” that Amazon purchased at Sundance for $10 million. It had gone on to win two Oscars. Amazon and its competitor Netflix Inc have inflated prices for such reputed fare.
Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, told an industry executive recently that it is business as usual at the movie studio. It could indicate multi-million-dollar deals for films destined for theaters at Sundance. It can also imply little deals by Amazon Video Direct; a separate team that gives out more modest payments for a project’s online streaming rights.
Nevertheless, many filmmakers were surprised when recently the studio turned down some projects with budgets up to $6 million. They believed it fitted the mold of “The Big Sick,” Amazon’s hit of 2017.
It is not certain at this point in time whether their rejection was due to Amazon’s new priorities.
The company had seen big success with its former content strategy. Only time will tell what Amazon’s radical move will bring.