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Just Like Netflix, a Lot of Amazon’s New Movies Will Skip Theaters

Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke.

Order something on Amazon and you’ll usually be given multiple choices as to how quickly you want your item to arrive: one- or two-day shipping, one-hour delivery via Prime Now, even a “no rush” option to wait a week or so in exchange for a small credit. But since jumping into the movie game in 2015 with Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, the company’s feature film unit has operated under a one-size-fits-all philosophy for distributing its titles. While rival Netflix defiantly bypassed theaters and opted to premiere all but a handful of its films via streaming, Amazon Studios projects unspooled in multiplexes first and didn’t make their way to Prime Video subscribers until months — sometimes many months — later. That’s about to change.

Over the course of the past week, Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke has given a flurry of interviews in which she’s made it clear that a significant portion of the company’s film slate going forward will be given Netflix–style, streaming-first (or streaming-only) releases. “I think you’ll see more and more movies that [go direct-to-service],” Salke told IndieWire last week, following her presentation to the winter Television Critics Association press tour. She underscored that point again in an interview published this week in Variety: “Direct-to-service is really important for us. We want a really strong pathway toward that.” Amazon is looking to increase its movie output from a handful of projects to about 30 movies per year, according to this week’s reports. About one-third of its projects will resemble the kinds of wide-appeal, sometimes awards-worthy films Amazon has been making —

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