Hollywood's indie film pool prepares for the Amazon plunge

Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:53pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When Amazon Inc announced on Monday its move into the movie business, the Internet retailer sent a ripple through Hollywood's pool of independent film.

It's a pool where the major studios don't swim much any more and where projects get stuck for years for lack of financing. But from its waters also spring many acclaimed films, best picture Oscar nominees like "Selma" and "Whiplash" and quite a few commercial successes.

With plans to produce 12 films per year with budgets ranging from $5 million to $25 million, for theatrical release and streaming on Amazon Prime video 4-8 weeks later, a digital company is creating a new art-house studio and getting films into consumers' hands and living rooms faster.

"It's a great business," said Mark Gordon, the veteran Hollywood television and film producer behind movies like "Saving Private Ryan" and the new Steve Jobs biopic.

"By financing a movie they feel good about and knowing where their second window is going to be, there is a huge opportunity for them and the rest of the creative community."

Amazon's announcement came as a surprise, but the Seattle-based company had already built up its credibility among Hollywood's creative types, most notably with its television

series "Transparent," which won two Golden Globes last week, its first major awards since starting Amazon Studios in 2010.

"They have clearly been able to do it on the episodic side, I see no reason why they can't do it on the feature film side," said Franklin Leonard, founder of the Black List, a site where unproduced screenplays are shared with filmmakers and producers.   Continued...

The Amazon.com, Inc. logo is seen on the side of a delivery truck in Brooklyn, New York October 23, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid