Amazon Release Window

Ever since streaming services like Netflix and Amazon started producing their own movies, they’ve had a bit of a tiff with theaters who don’t want to show their movies on the big screen if it’s just going to be available to stream online at the same time. In order for Netflix and Amazon to get their movies in theaters to qualify for awards, they’ve had to buy out theater space themselves. But Amazon is about to change that approach by playing nice with the movie theaters.

Amazon Studios will soon allow a 90-day theatrical window between when the movie plays on the big screen and when it’s available to stream. The hope is that it will bring more attention to the movie, and give theaters some time to make money off the release before people can watch it at home. Find out more about the Amazon release window after the jump.

Mashable has the report on Amazon’s plan, which is actually just the old way of bringing movies to home video. It’s just a new approach for the relatively young film distribution arm of the company since they haven’t been following Hollywood’s studio and distribution traditions.

There’s been a longstanding grudge between movie theater chains and streaming services like Amazon and Netflix that skirt the usual 90-day theatrical window. But with this new approach to distribution, Amazon shouldn’t have a problem getting some of their upcoming movies the theatrical attention they deserve. However, not all films will adhere to the 90-day window, because some of them just don’t need much theatrical attention.

It sounds like this new approach will be applied case-by-case basis, which means that Amazon-acquired films like Manchester by the Sea, the Sundance selected drama that had tons of Oscar buzz when it played at the festival in January, will likely adhere to this new plan, if only to make sure it gets plenty of attention going into awards season. Other Sundance titles picked up by Amazon like Love & Friendship and Wiener Dog, or even Woody Allen’s forthcoming film, may also get that treatment, but specific release plans for those movies haven’t been revealed just yet.

After movies spend 90 days in theaters, they’ll go exclusively to Amazon Prime for a while before being made available for purchase or rental at other places. Apparently Prime members want movies just for themselves fresh out of theaters, so Amazon is going to give them that exclusivity.

This seems to be a smart move for Amazon, if only because a theatrical release still adds legitimacy to a film. For example, even though Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation was thought to be an awards contender this year, the buzz on the film wasn’t helped at all by its paltry $51,000 box office take. That poor showing was likely due to its day and date release on Netflix, something movie theaters hate.

So you can expect to start seeing Amazon’s movies in more theaters across the country sometime later this year. We’ll have to wait and see if adhering to the old ways of movie distribution ends up helping Amazon’s movies get more attention. If it works, maybe Netflix will start playing nice with theaters as well.

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