Amazon Spending A Ridiculous Amount To Save Movie Theaters

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By Mark McKee
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Movie theaters have had it rough over the past two years since the pandemic forced people out of public viewings and into the home streaming life, and to have to wait to see films like Tenet and No Time to Die. Streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, however, have done nothing but benefit from the social distancing and the encouragement to stay home while the pandemic raged. According to Bloomberg, Amazon Prime is looking to reverse that trend and are committed to investing $1 billion a year in the pursuit of releasing 12-15 movies annually in the theaters. 

According to an unnamed source inside the online retailer, Amazon is looking to jump into the theater release business by developing its own films for theatrical runs before streaming them on its service. While they are committing a cool $1 billion to the venture every year, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Geetha Ranganathan believes it could create a return of 15%-20%, putting them on par with bigger studios like Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures. Of course, this only puts them in a more competitive race with their streaming rivals, Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max

Amazon has stiff competition in this world. Disney+ has the benefit of being the streaming branch of one of the biggest film production studios in the world, with properties like Star Wars and Marvel, along with their live-action remakes hitting the theaters.

HBO Max has their own juggernaut franchises to boost its theater dollars with the DC films like Black Adam and The Suicide Squad and the Harry Potter Fantastic Beasts prequels. Even Netflix is starting to drop movies in theaters with the Knives Out sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery running in the theaters for a week before the debut on the streaming service. 

While Amazon has a litany of properties that they own the rights to, with over a dozen movies every year as part of the commitment, they will most definitely have a variety of original projects. Of course, while original films are some of the most enjoyable, the largest online retailer isn’t dumb to the knowledge that franchises are where the money is. So, what properties does Amazon own that can fill the franchise quota on a yearly basis to get the most significant return on investment? 

The answer can be found in Amazon’s $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, which brought the entirety of the James Bond Franchise to the streaming service. Along with the super spy and the ability to continue their cinematic box office dominance, they also acquired the rights to RockyStargateRobocop, and G.I. Joe. All of which could bring with them the potential for significant franchise box office returns. 

Of course, that doesn’t even take into account their ownership of The Lord of the Rings rights that they have already begun to utilize in the form of a prequel TV series. Or the other based-on-books TV series like Jack Ryan and the spin-off movie in the same universe, Without RemorseReacherBoscheThe Terminal List, and the upcoming Alex Cross series. Amazon’s commitment of $1 billion yearly may seem like a significant number up front, but the potential return could be worth five times that much.