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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Amazon Studios Will Produce Best Movies Of 2014

Rebecca Doyle |
February 5, 2014 | 1:50 p.m. PST


"When a computer nerd's Facebook crush goes AWOL, his misfit friends help him put aside his fear of the outside world and journey across the country to save her." (Jaclyn Wu, Neon Tommy)
"When a computer nerd's Facebook crush goes AWOL, his misfit friends help him put aside his fear of the outside world and journey across the country to save her." (Jaclyn Wu, Neon Tommy)
After over 25 sequel releases in 2013 and a recent announcement of a follow-up film to the still-unreleased "The Lego Movie," it seems that the plight of aspiring auteurs in the film industry grows heavier with each ascending titular numeral: “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” “Ironman 3,” “Scary Movie 5,” “Fast & Furious 6.”

This year, moviegoers can expect to encounter another plethora of upshots, including “The Raid 2: Berandal,” “The Expendables 3,” and “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction”; meanwhile, the next three Avatar films are in fierce stages of production and set to be released between 2016 and 2018. 

It is in this world that Amazon Studios provides a plot twist in an otherwise predictable story.

With 30 films on its development slate, the branch of Amazon.com focuses on completely original content. The loglines seem decidedly more intriguing than Hollywood’s “in part two of X-franchise.”

Soldier Boys” explores the action/adventure genre: “An FBI agent joins the Army, and the war in Iraq, to stop a dangerous L.A. street gang hidden inside its ranks from secretly training for a new war back home.”

I Think My Facebook Friend is Dead” tackles comedy: “When a computer nerd’s Facebook crush goes AWOL, his misfit friends help him put aside his fear of the outside world and journey across the country to save her.”

For Sale by Superhero” targets kids and family: “An unemployed father discovers that his new house is really the former secret headquarters of a deceased superhero and decides to assume the hero’s identity in order to win back the respect of his family.”

And “GIDEON'S LAW” fills the thriller niche: “A disgraced young cop is kidnapped by his civilian ride-along, who turns out to be a ruthless killer with a diabolical plan.”

SEE ALSO: 8 Movies To Get Excited For In 2014

The content is only the beginning of Amazon Studio’s original approach. The studio welcomes unsolicited submissions from writers and filmmakers, offering monetary compensation when a project is chosen for consideration, when it's put into production and after certain profit margins are reached. Additionally, the current pioneering projects are constantly revised and put online for community feedback – already, several drafts of scripts are available for in-development ideas. The films are then moved to “test movie” phase, where full-length rough drafts of the films – usually told in rough animations – are put online for viewing and further feedback. 

The difference between the output of Amazon Studios and of mainstream content creators is that the focus is on content, plot and story first and foremost. The primary interest seems to be determining, through original ideas and audience feedback, the story that will engage audiences the most, rather than drawing box office dollars through audience recognition of characters or actors.

To provide a comparative example, acclaimed screenwriter Linda Woolverton was told of the basic idea or character of her recent scripts “Alice in Wonderland 2” and “Maleficent,” and was given a time frame in which to devise a story and provide a first draft. Innovative content has already proved successful with primary competitor Netflix, with its original series “House of Cards,” renewing for a third season this week. 

Regardless of its success, however, Amazon Studios does not by any means replace part of Hollywood, nor does it intend to. While Amazon Studios may provide an initiative for a project, the company has already began looking to Warner Bros. and other studios for distribution. The notoriety of Amazon Studios lies in its innovative content, community-enabling input, and pathway for new or industry-inexperienced writers and filmmakers to enter the industry. Amazon Studios will provide a positive impact on the filmmaking community by providing new opportunities for viewers as well as creators. As the company progresses in developing content for film as well as television, the new initiatives put forth by this growing studioin 2014 will be those truly deserving of second installments.


"Smash Cut" is a new biweekly column examining the latest developments in the film industry. Reach Columnist Rebecca Doyle here; follow her on Twitter here.



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