Amazon is going to make movies: Internal studio to produce about 12 per year

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Amazon is getting into the movie-making business.

The company announced Monday that its Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) Studios division -- the same one that is behind TV shows like "Transparent" -- will "begin to produce and acquire original movies." The first movies will enter production later this year.

ted hope
Ted Hope will lead movie development for Amazon.

Amazon didn't announce any specific projects. But it said the movies will be released first in theaters and only a little while later on the company's streaming video service.

"Whereas it typically takes 39 to 52 weeks for theatrical movies to premiere on subscription video services, Amazon Original Movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. just 4 to 8 weeks after their theatrical debut," the company said in a press release.

The announcement opens a new front in Amazon's competition against Netflix (NFLX, Tech30), which is also financing movies and trying to shorten the window of time between theatrical release and online release.

In August, Netflix is scheduled to premiere a sequel to the 2000 hit "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" at the same time IMAX moviegoers can see it in theaters.

Amazon's strategy is a bit different, by committing to releasing films in theaters first, while still shortening the window of time it takes to get them online.

Roy Price, the vice president of Amazon Studios, said the company's goal is ambitious: to "create close to twelve movies a year."

Amazon said its development efforts -- reading scripts, acquiring movies, etcetera -- will be led by Ted Hope, the co-founder of the production company Good Machine.

"Welcome to Amazon Ted," Price wrote on Twitter. "Let's make some great movies."

Hope's title will be head of production for Amazon Original Movies.

He said in a statement: "Audiences already recognize that Amazon has raised the bar with productions in the episodic realm, tackling bold material in unique ways and collaborating with top talent, both established and emerging. To help carry the torch into the feature film world for such an innovative company is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility."

Variety reported that budgets for Amazon's movies will be closer to independent film than to Hollywood blockbusters: "from $5 million to $25 million per title."

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