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Amazon Studios tests the waters for potential movies by turning them into comic books

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Amazon Studios has released a free comic book version of a potential film pitch to gauge audience response.

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Not satisfied with being a mere purveyor of content, Amazon has spent much of the past year getting its crowdsourced filmmaking project off the ground. While Amazon Studios has yet to actually produce any of the stories it's accepted, it's testing an interesting system for gauging audience response: releasing a comic book version of a prospective film. Blackburn Burrow, a supernatural horror story set just before the Civil War, will be serialized online over the next four months. Each issue comes with a survey, allowing Amazon to collect reader feedback and decide whether it's worth turning the series into a movie.

Pitches already come with art or trailers, but Amazon's strategy turns this ephemera cheaply into serviceable fiction — even if the art and writing are somewhat bare. It's a way to attract people who aren't otherwise invested in the Studios program, and a successful comic could create a smaller version of the ready-made fan base that supported shows like The Walking Dead. Plenty of filmmakers already scour the world of comics for successful franchises, so it's not too strange to see Amazon releasing its own titles to test the waters.