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Amazon announces plans to make movies for theaters, Prime streaming

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12 movies a year will come to theaters first, then Prime later

Amazon Studios is going to start making movies, and you'll be seeing them in theaters before they become available for streaming on Prime. Fresh off Golden Globe wins for its original series Transparent, the company today announced it will produce and acquire full-length feature films for theatrical release. Amazon Original Movies, which "focus on unique stories, voices, and characters from top and up-and-coming creators," will become available to US Prime subscribers just 4 to 8 weeks after they premiere in theaters — a shorter transition to streaming than you'd see from the major movie studios.

12 movies a year sounds ambitious

And Amazon's not exactly starting small; it plans to produce up to 12 movies each year as part of the new initiative, and those efforts will kick off in earnest later this year. "Not only will we bring Prime Instant Video customers exciting, unique, and exclusive films soon after a movie’s theatrical run, but we hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience," said Roy Price, VP of Amazon Studios.

Steering the creative development of Amazon Original Movies is Ted Hope, who co-founded the Good Machine production company, responsible for films like Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Interestingly, the latter title ties in with Netflix's original feature film plans. Amazon's chief competitor will make the upcoming sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon available on its service at the same time it premieres in IMAX theaters. Jeff Bezos' plan is quite different; he seems happy to give Amazon's movies some exclusive screening time in theaters so long as they get over to Prime within a month or two. And while Prime Instant Video customers may bemoan the wait, the benefit is that moviegoers will have a better shot of actually finding Amazon's movies someplace nearby.