Amazon Finds Fresh Way to Produce Movies and TV

Amazon’s clout in the tech world (and on Wall Street) has been growing over the past few years with all of the success the company has been having. The infrastructure the company has built is impressive; many other companies and services rely on Amazon for their servers and shipping capabilities. Last year, the release of the Kindle Fire – which sold like hotcakes – pushed Amazon forward in terms of influence and profit. The company recently announced a swath of new Kindle products that impressed me, and I’m sure impressed many of you.

But Amazon’s success isn’t what this post is about. It’s about is a recent move by Amazon that the media is reporting this morning. It seems we can welcome Amazon to the world of Hollywood with a greater presence than ever before.

Amazon… in Hollywood? What?

Ok, the company hasn’t moved to Hollywood or anything drastic like that (they’re still safe and happy in Seattle), but what they have done is taken a big jump into the film and TV business. It turns out, according to a Reuters article posted on the Chicago Tribune, Amazon “has 30 movies and TV projects on the development slate of its Hollywood studio, Amazon Studios.”

I like to think I stay on top of the news about what the big tech companies are doing. This came as a total surprise to me. The extent of my knowledge was that Amazon was involved in the movie and TV streaming business, not in actually making movies and TV shows! After all, details concerning a huge streaming deal with Epix based on performance are in the news today. Quite frankly, though, I’m pretty excited about Amazon focusing more on the entertainment production industry. I’ll tell you why.

Amazon Relies on Social, Crowdsourced Movies and TV to Find its Projects

Amazon isn’t operating in Hollywood like a traditional producer. The world of Hollywood is dominated by who knows who and “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” sort of transactions. It’s almost impossible for someone without connections, whether you’re an actor, a writer, producer, or a director, to get off the ground and do what you set out to accomplish.

Amazon Studios has been in operation for almost two years now, but it has recently really started to get going. According to Alistair Barr with Reuters, Amazon has a pretty unique system set up that utilizes its vast customer base to find what TV show or movie will be a hit. Barr writes, “Instead of green-lighting a [project], Amazon first helps develop the scripts it options into trial videos. It posts these online to solicit reviews and feedback from its millions of customers.”

With the feedback in hand, writers can take their time and adjust the script. Some purists might be offended at this idea, and I was initially a little skeptical, but how many times have we seen movie makers throw away hundreds of millions of dollars on a movie that barely makes anything and that no one enjoys or cares to see? I think the latter is a worse situation for the movie industry than what Amazon is doing.

Amazon is Smart

Here we have an example of a company understanding its own platform and where it stands in the online world. The Kindle and Kindle Fire have already been hailed as great products not only for their technical ability, but because they act as an extension of the Amazon marketplace and give people more access to it. This whole Amazon Studios operation takes the resources and capabilities that Amazon already has, and pushes them into producing entertainment that, because of its information, will surely be successes for people and for Amazon’s bottom line.

Netflix has also started to do this, albeit on a smaller scale. I found its original series, Lilyhammer, surprisingly entertaining. But Netflix doesn’t have nearly the amount of users or analytics that Amazon has. In fact, Amazon delving deeper into entertainment might help improve the quality of movies in the long-run. At the very least, it gives smaller TV and movie writers and directors a chance to make it big. Isn’t that what Hollywood is about?

What do you think about Amazon Studios? Is this a good thing for movies and TV, or a bad idea overall?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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