Amazon has a plan to outsmart Netflix at releasing movies people want to see

Manchester By The Sea Claire Folger
‘Manchester by the Sea.’ Claire Fogler

It looks like Amazon Studios is building a better relationship with theatres than Netflix is, and it could help distinguish its releases in a major way.

On Thursday at CinemaCon, the national theatre owners’ convention, Amazon Studios’ marketing and distribution chief Bob Berney presented the company’s distribution strategy and made clear that the titles it acquires will have their own theatrical windows before streaming on Amazon.

“All films will be released theatrically, with an aggressive marketing campaign to bring audiences to your theatres,” Berney said, according to The Wrap.

This is very different from the Netflix model. So far Netflix has released movies in theatres at the same time they go on the massive streaming service. Because of that, many of the large chains boycotted the runs of titles like “Beasts of No Nation” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.”

Amazon grabbed headlines earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival when it dished out huge amounts for multiple titles such as the Casey Affleck-starring “Manchester by the Sea” ($10 million) and “Complete Unknown ($2 million), starring Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon.

‘Chi-Raq.’ Amazon

In playing nice with theatres, Amazon can release these titles in a traditional manner that will not just build awards potential (as is the case for “Manchester by the Sea,” which is already receiving Oscar buzz) but also increase the chances for more box-office return than Netflix’s “Beasts” ($90,777 gross in theatres) and “Sword of Destiny” (released on only a handful of IMAX screens, it never reported its box-office take).

Using a more traditional model seemed to work for Amazon when it released Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq” in theatres over a month before putting it online last year. The film grossed over $2.6 million.

“Theatrical runs position a movie as a real movie in customers’ eyes,” Berney said at CinemaCon. “Our goals are aligned with exhibition.”

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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