Amazon is reworking its film strategy, looking to get back on track after a couple of box office misses and a reportedly rough transition into self-distribution.
In an interview with the New York Times, Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke said the company focused too narrowly on prestige films and didn’t have enough variety. Going forward, Amazon will emphasize several “lanes” of movies for both the big screen and its streaming service Prime Video, including award-worthy films, classic “sexual thrillers” like “Basic Instinct,” young adult movies and horror films from Blumhouse, the company responsible for “The Purge” series.
Going forward, Amazon aims to roll out about 30 original movies a year, Salke told the Times. Some will hit theaters, while others will go straight to Prime Video. Budgets could range from a few million dollars up to $50 million or more.
Amazon got off to a hot start in the movie business, cashing in with a pair of Oscars in 2017 for “Manchester by the Sea.” But the Times reports that Amazon’s trouble began later that year with the decision to distribute movies itself, rather than relying on established Hollywood partners to get its films in theaters.
Though Amazon’s had a few misses on the big-screen recently, it’s found success with some of its original series. Most notable is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which took home five Emmy awards, including the honor for best comedy series.
In the Times interview, Salke reiterated that the famed director Woody Allen will not be part of Amazon’s future film strategy. Amazon scuttled a deal with Allen to finance and distribute his films, amid renewed focus on the allegeations from his daughter Dylan Farrow, who has long alleged Allen sexually abused her when she was a child.
Earlier this month, Allen sued Amazon for $68 million, alleging that the tech giant backed out of a deal to finance and distribute his films over what the lawsuit calls a “25-year-old baseless accusation.”
Salke took over the top job at Amazon Studios a year ago, several months after Roy Price was forced to resign as the head of the studio amid allegations of sexual harassment. Salke had been the president of NBC Entertainment since July 2011, where she was responsible for comedy development, drama development, current programming, casting, and diversity programming initiatives, among other things.