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Why Amazon Is Getting Into Feature Films

In announcing Amazon Original Movies, the company plans to release 12 productions a year
Jeffrey Tambor stars in Amazon's award-winning series, Transparent.

Jeffrey Tambor stars in Amazon's award-winning series, Transparent.

Photographer: Beth Dubber/Amazon Studios via Everett Collection

Amazon is doubling down on plans to become a company that makes media, instead of being one that just sells it. On Monday the company announced it will begin producing movies for theaters, with the goal of releasing a dozen original titles each year. Amazon's ultimate aim is to get more people to sign up for its Prime service, the $99-a-year membership program that was once just a way to get free shipping. Movies that Amazon produces will show up on Amazon Prime Instant Video four to eight weeks after their theatrical debuts, much faster than it normally takes for movies to be available outside theaters. 

The venture, known as Amazon Original Movies, will be led by Ted Hope, who founded Good Machine, the production company that made Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, said in a statement that Amazon will serve as an alternative to the studio system for frustrated filmmakers, “who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.”