When Amazon Studios’ head of media development Roy Price sat down this week for a keynote discussion at MIPTV at Cannes, he was there to talk about Amazon’s television distribution. Yet the conversation quickly turned to a discussion of Amazon’s theatrical distribution model for films.
While discussing the landscape, Price noted, “I think customers appreciate the opportunity to see films in a cinema where you get a full theatrical experience, and we want to create that opportunity for customers. And also … a lot of people who became filmmakers they want people to have the opportunity to see their film as intended in the full experience.”
Price continued, “whatever you may predict to happen six or seven years from now, theaters play an important role in the movie ecosystem now, so why not participate in that? … Once the movie comes on the service having been in theaters, I think there is a perception that it’s a legit movie: It was reviewed, and it was in a theater — it’s like, a movie. It helps with customer perception, it helps with filmmakers, so we’re very supportive of the theatrical window.”
Price’s final point, of customer perception, is interesting as it directly addresses the stigma some viewers have about direct-to-streaming films. We have seen, for better or worse, the cultural capital of films that premiered directly on Netflix diminished because they did not go through the traditional theatrical model.
Amazon, by embracing traditional release, has tapped into the award-season conversation in a way that Netflix hasn’t been able to, with such films as “Manchester By The Sea” picking up multiple Academy Awards (many believed that limited/almost non-existent theatrical release hurt the Oscar chances for Cary Fukunaga’s “Beasts Of No Nation“). This year, as well, they have possible award contenders with Todd Haynes’s “Wonderstruck” and Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” and they will probably get more traction because they premiere first in theaters.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments section. [Deadline]