We’re entering a new era in movie production—one in which traditional film studios like MGM and Paramount are starting to decline, and big 21st-century tech companies like Netflix and Hulu are rising to prominence. It’s a fascinating time for an industry that hasn’t undergone much large-scale change until now. One major question remains, though: will the biggest 21st-century tech company of all be a major player? According to The New York Times, Amazon has been going through a rough patch when it comes to producing successful movies. The company’s challenge in 2019 is to find a way out.
The Times noted that Amazon Studios has put out a series of flops over the last year and a half. “Wonder Wheel,” the newest release from Woody Allen, cost the company $25 million to make and only brought in $1.4 million in revenue. Similarly, Felix Van Groeningen’s “Beautiful Boy” cost $23 million and collected $7.6 million. Amazon is used to upending markets and making huge profits; in Hollywood, it’s purging money.
One person out to fix that problem is Jennifer Salke, who recently took over as head of Amazon Studios.
“What we struggled with, I think, was putting too much focus on a narrow prestige lane,” Salke said. “I don’t think we had diverse enough points of view in the storytelling.”
Salke has a new plan for Amazon Studios, and it involves finding a variety of potentially profitable movies in a few different “lanes.” Some are potential Oscar winners, including five films that Salke just bought at Sundance. Others are “sexual thrillers” in the same vein as “Basic Instinct,” while still others are horror movies that could draw in big audiences. Also, notably, the company is moving away from working with Woody Allen, who has seen his audience shrink massively amid allegations of sexual abuse.
Amazon is going to think big, rolling out about 30 movies at a year at a budget of $50 million-plus for each one. Some will go straight to Amazon Prime Video, while others will draw big audiences in theatres.
“It’s really about creating that right marketing campaign, right distribution plan for each movie, allowing us to break through the cultural noise and really resonating with customers,” Matt Newman, one of Salke’s co-chiefs.
Photo: A woman watches the Amazon series “Vikings.” Credit: pixinoo / Shutterstock.com