Amazon film plans

Amazon’s Jennifer Salke spent over $40 million on Sundance acquisitions at last month’s festival, and now she’s giving us a peek at her film plans – including hints at when we’ll be able to see buzzy movies like the Mindy Kaling comedy Late Night, the Adam Driver-led CIA drama The Report, and more.

The chief of Amazon Studios has opened up in a pair of new interviews which paint a larger picture of the company’s approach to its film slate since Salke took over that position last year. Read on to learn what to expect, including the type of movies Nicole Kidman wants to make under her production deal there and Salke’s proclamation that Amazon can handle “at least” twenty direct-to-Prime films per year in addition to their theatrical releases.

Late Night - Emma Thompson

A Shifting Theatrical Release Model, and the Future of Amazon’s Sundance Acquisitions

Variety reports that Amazon “is keen to acquire finished films, but says it will also keep producing its own movies. In addition, Amazon will start making films that will debut exclusively on its Prime subscription service and will forgo theatrical release.” Salke and her team dropped $47 million at Sundance for Late Night, The Report, Brittany Runs a Marathon, Honey Boy, and One Child Nation, and all of those movies will be getting theatrical releases – but whereas the company previously stuck with a 90-day theatrical window before allowing subscribers to stream their films on Amazon Prime Video, they’re now exploring “a variety of windows” for their theatrical model.

Salke elaborated in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

“You’ll see less of the three month window, and you’ll see different variations…In some cases, it’ll be important for us to get the movie quickly to the service, while still following through with a theatrical release that feels much shorter, two weeks even, two to eight weeks. And then in other cases, we’ll allow, where it makes sense, a wider release strategy.”

Translation: by releasing certain titles on their streaming platform quickly, Amazon Studios could attract new subscribers – the larger company’s ultimate goal.

But don’t expect them to abandon theaters altogether. “We still want to be able to really support a theatrical release,” Salke told THR. “I mean, look at Cold War. We are fully behind that. We would do that again tomorrow.” Variety says Late Night will follow the strategy of The Big Sick and hit theaters in June or July, while Honey Boy and The Report will arrive during this year’s award’s season in the fall.

Nicole Kidman Amazon

Prepare for an Influx of Direct-to-Amazon Movies

Amazon is also looking to make movies that debut directly on Amazon Prime without going to theaters at all. Horror producer Jason Blum is making eight films for the streaming service with a diverse slate of filmmakers, and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman also has a deal in place to make movies and TV shows for Amazon. Salke told THR what type of content Kidman is interested in:

“I’m working with Nicole Kidman on this slate of sexy, date night movies that no one’s making any more, like No Way Out or Cruel Intentions. Those kind of, ‘I need to stay home and just drink wine with my girlfriend, or my boyfriend, husband, and watch this.’ This is really Nicole’s thing. When I met with her my second week in the job, we made the first-look deal out of this lunch. She was like, ‘Where are the hot, sexy movies?’ We had a meeting of the minds on it, and I’m like, ‘Let’s just get those movies directly, where we could release over the summer.’ Every Saturday night, one of those comes out, and then you create some binge-ability and a marketing story behind it.”

With Netflix having a summer of romantic comedies last year with Set It Up and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and now Amazon’s promise to bring back “provocative” sexy date movies for adults (Salke name-checked Basic Instinct to Variety), it looks like the streaming services are coming in to provide a home for entertainment that can’t seem to find another place in Hollywood among the small-budget horror films and mega-budget superhero movies.

And Salke, who previously served as the president of NBC Entertainment and oversaw shows like Glee, won’t forget about the young adult market. She’s already putting that into practice in television, but that will extend to movies as well. All in all, she explained, “there could be 20 direct to service movies managed within a given year also at least.”

Elsewhere in the articles, the Amazon chief alluded to the idea that the company is open to making big-budget comic book movies and effects-heavy tentpole productions – though there aren’t any plans for those yet. She also revealed that they’d be open to having the Oscars on Amazon Prime Video, so if ABC gets fed up with falling ratings and lets its contract expire, we may be seeing the trophies handed out on a streaming service one day.

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