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Amazon is going Hollywood, plans to produce 12 theater releases per year

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Christopher Polk/Getty Images North America
Fresh off the success of Amazon’s big night at the Golden Globes for its groundbreaking original series, Transparent, the company has unveiled plans to go much further than the boundaries of your local streaming device. Today, Amazon announced plans to produce and release feature films at movie theaters ahead of their release on Amazon Instant Video.

In the press release, Vice President of Amazon Studios Roy Price stated the company’s goal will be to “create close to twelve movies a year with production starting later this year.” Amazon is looking to continue its award winning streak started by Transparent, and dive into a much bigger pond. The original movie initiative will be managed under the newly created Amazon Original Movies department headed by independent film producer Ted Hope, who co-founded the production company Good Machine, producers of the Academy Award winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Amazon is not alienating its growing Prime subscriber base with its theatrical ambitions, but rewarding them with new perks. Usually movies released in theaters are not available on streaming services for several months after initial release. Amazon plans to make all of its original movies available to be streamed on Amazon Instant Video no later than two months after their time on the silver screen. Production on the as-yet unannounced films will commence later this year, for release starting in 2016.

The transition into feature films is a big move for Amazon, but it might have been expected considering the company’s principle competition. On August 28, 2015, Netflix will release the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel in select IMAX theaters and on the streaming platform simultaneously. In October 2014, Netflix’s CEO Ted Sarandos informed The Hollywood Reporter Netflix plans to eventually get on track to release 10-14 original movies a year.  While Amazon’s plan drastically shortens the exclusive release window for theaters, Netflix is planning to remove it completely in Auguest, inspiring AMC, Regal, and Cinemark to boycott the release of the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel.

Amazon also allows anyone to upload a movie script for review and to be potentially greenlit at Seven films are currently being developed through this platform, but Price informed Variety in a statement “we do not expect that most of the movies in the Amazon Original Movies program” will derive from the Amazon Studios program. Whatever the origin of the films, just like the company’s big red competitor, Amazon is hoping to entice viewers to trade their armchair for a theater seat at least 12 times a year.

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