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Amazon makes Oscar push; plans to produce 16 films in 2016

amazon oscars jeff bezos netflix hbo
There’s a gold rush in the streams. During a recent interview with German publication Die Welt, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stated that the company’s Prime Instant Video streaming service has ambitions beyond its recent success at the Emmys and the Golden Globes: Amazon now plans to produce 16 films in 2016, with hopes for a shot at an Academy Award.

Bezos’ Oscar dreams would help Amazon complete the illustrious Hollywood trifecta. “Amazon has already won Golden Globes and Emmys,” Beszos said, speaking about the success of Amazon original series Transparent. “We want to win an Oscar.” The 16 films-a-year aspiration is an increase from the 12 films-a-year goal Vice President of Amazon Studios Roy Price proposed back in January.

Bezos says Amazon wants to “offer masters like Spike Lee or Woody Allen a new platform.” Spike Lee’s Chiraq, released on December 4, was the first motion picture the company produced. Allen is making a six-episode TV series for Amazon to debut in 2016 that he has called a “catastrophic mistake.” Maybe Bezos should get the Academy Award-winning director back into his comfort zone of filmmaking to help the streaming service’s Oscar chances.

Amazon’s feature film aspirations follow its largest rival, Netflix, which has made big waves in Hollywood this year to become a full-fledged movie studio. Netflix’s original film Beasts of No Nation was the first of its kind to get a theatrical release and hit the Internet at the same time, prompting major movie chains to boycott the film. However, the film found an ally in smaller theater chain Alamo Draft House, making it eligible to compete for an award under Academy guidelines. The film, about a child soldier in a war-torn African region, is a clear attempt at Oscar bait, receiving a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year.

With Netflix’s plans to double its original programming in 2016, Bezos knows new leaders are being established in a fracturing entertainment industry. “This big, gigantic network of cable and satellite TV providers is just about to split up,” Bezos stated.

It may be an uphill climb for Amazon to reach the heights of its rival Netflix, which has far more pull in the streaming arena at present. But, after launching a rocket into space and landing it safely with his side project Blue Origin, Bezos may be thinking that just about anything is possible.

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Keith Nelson Jr.
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