Report: Amazon to Spend Over $1 Billion, Release 15 Theatrical Films Annually
Amazon is continuing to forge its own path in the media landscape. According to a report from Bloomberg, the e-commerce juggernaut is planning to spend more than $1 billion per year to fund a robust slate of theatrical films in the coming years.
Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw reports that Amazon’s new theatrical undertaking will begin next year, with a smaller slate of movies and that the company will build from there until it is releasing 12 to 15 movies every year. If Amazon reaches that number of theatrical releases per year, it will bring the company in line with some of the biggest studios in Hollywood, like Paramount.
The move puts Amazon’s $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM Studios earlier this year better into focus. As it turns out, the company was not solely interested in MGM because of its expansive library of movies and TV series. Now, Amazon will have a movie-producing infrastructure already in operation, instead of having to start one from scratch.
The move will undoubtedly be music to theater owners’ ears. Movie ticket sales are still down 33% from 2019, the last full year that theaters were open before the COVID-19 pandemic. Hollywood executives are also highly invested in seeing theatrical movies rebound, as they tend to make millions more in profit than streaming-exclusive films.
The strategy will also be watched closely by other streaming services. Netflix has had a notoriously shaky relationship with movie theater chains, and just last month company co-CEO Ted Sarandos reiterated his stance on putting Netflix movies into theaters for an extended period of time.
“We are in the business of entertaining our members with Netflix movies on Netflix … There are all kinds of debates all the time, back and forth,” Sarandos said. “But there is no question internally that we make our movies for our members, and we really want them to watch them on Netflix. And, of course, with one week of release in theaters, most people will see them on Netflix. Just like they see all movies. Most people watch most movies at home.”
Amazon will find itself in a unique position to capitalize on its theatrical films if they are financially successful. The company can then make them available for rental or purchase on its own website before finally migrating them to its streaming service Prime Video. At $1 billion per year, the gamble is an expensive one for Amazon, but the company could see a massive financial return on its investment.