Amazon ups the ante with Netflix, aims to release up to 30 movies a year

Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke, who has had the job for a year now, recently shared that Amazon will be stepping up its content competition with Netflix, but with a more conservative approach. “We don’t want our customers to have an endless scroll,” Salke told The Hollywood Reporter, in a jab at Netflix’s seemingly boundless budget for original productions. “We want to be much more curated and pointed about what we’re putting up on the service, what we’re putting out theatrically.” Curated and pointed or not, the approach is still going to yield an impressive number of titles — as many as 30 per year, at a cost that definitely feels Netflix-esque.

Amazon Studios reportedly spent $47 million at the Sundance Film Festival this year, to acquire just five movies, including Late Night, Brittany Runs a Marathon and The Report. It’s an investment level that catapulted the studio to a record for a single company at the festival, and more than doubled the amount attributed to Netflix’s purchases at the event.

Salke also revealed something of the release strategy behind Amazon’s investments. Some movies will go the traditional theatrical release route, followed by a home release after 90 days, but other titles will be treated differently. “There could be 20 direct-to-service movies managed within a given year,” she said. These movies will likely follow some very specific formulas, like romantic stories, or low-budget horror flicks. Jason Blum, the mastermind behind the Paranormal Activity franchise of cheap, but reliable thrills, has an eight-movie deal with Amazon, all of which will be headed straight to Amazon Prime Video. Nicole Kidman has been tapped to star in a series of “date-night” movies. The young adult category is also going to be a big focus for the direct-to-service effort, so it wouldn’t surprise us to see Amazon get behind the whoever creates the next Maze Runner, Divergent, or Hunger Games franchise.

Could Amazon also be the future home of a major Hollywood franchise, like the James Bond movies? “Totally. I mean, look at Lord of the Rings,” Salke responded, making a point of mentioning the highly anticipated episodes that are apparently subject to enormous security measures, like fingerprint scanners. “We get behind a franchise in a major way.”

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