While Netflix arguably makes a bigger splash, Amazon Prime Video is really stepping up its game. The streaming service already has the buzzy hit series ‘The Man in the High Castle’ and ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’, plus the once-praised ‘Transparent’. And some of its films, ‘The Big Sick’ (above), ‘Manchester by the Sea’, ‘The Lost City of Z’ and more have gotten widespread acclaim and some have even been theatrical successes. (‘The Big Sick’ made $65 million worldwide in theaters.) And like Netflix, Amazon has lofty goals in mind for its original motion pictures. It was recently revealed that Amazon was toying with buying the upscale, indie-centered Landmark theater chain. Now it seems that the studio is looking for some big ticket product to showcase, if not in their own theaters, at least through their streaming service.
Sources have confirmed that Amazon has met with Paramount, Sony and more, looking to line up some high-profile original films. Apparently, Amazon was impressed by how successful Paramount’s ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ performed for Netflix when it premiered in February after the Super Bowl, and they want something just as splashy for themselves. (But looking at it objectively, while a ton of people checked out that film and the earlier action movie, ‘Bright’, neither was particularly well-liked.) Amazon is looking to co-finance films with these partners in exchange for certain online rights.
As for Paramount and Sony, they are humoring these discussions because Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu are quickly advancing in influence and popularity, which threatens traditional studios and TV networks and their practices. And the fact that their competitors are consolidating into mega-corporations– Disney/Fox, AT&T/Time-Warner– is spurring Paramount and Sony to look for options that could strengthen their positions of power. As it stands, they are the two smallest of the six majors in Hollywood.
Paramount had previously launched the pay TV service Epix with Lionsgate and MGM, but it never really caught on and last year, Paramount sold its portion to MGM entirely. (Lionsgate is expected to follow suit.)
This news comes just days after it was announced that Netflix was doubling down on original movies in hopes of scoring a ‘Lord of the Rings’ or Marvel-sized blockbuster.