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Amazon Studios: The Next Major Hollywood Player


AS Next Big PayerAn excerpt from our Weekly Beat article on Amazon Studios which will be available 1/23/15:

…Roy Price is the executive in charge of Amazon Studios and will be overseeing Ted Hope’s development team. Price is a former Disney Co. executive. Price’s father, Frank, was president of Universal Pictures in the 1980s and Roy Huggins, his grandfather, co-created The Rockford Files. Price was instrumental on helping to create Amazon’s streaming VOD project. He now will be stationed back in Los Angeles with Amazon Studios.

Price: “You can’t run a full-time TV and movie studio from Seattle.”

The Amazon Studios Offices are located at the 17-acre Winter Garden campus alongside CBS Television Distribution, Sony and Beats Electronics in Santa Monica, California. Their space at Colorado Avenue and 26th Street contains within around 100,000 square feet.

Andrew Jennison, partner at Santa Monica real estate brokerage Industry Partners, comments on the serious approach to the development phase that Amazon is going through to develop their studio into a powerhouse:

“They are growing that piece of the business fairly rapidly…to accommodate that growth and they want to be on this side of town because of the talent and resources.”

Many other tech companies have all opened Westside offices near them, including Microsoft, Netflix, YouTube. Amazon knows that in order to increase subscriber base and revenue they will need to focus on compelling stories and material that can compete with the likes of Netflix who’s quarterly revenue was over $1 billion supported by its original Kevin Spacey-lead drama, House of Cards.

Amazon had announced in July 2014 that they would be spending $100 million on original content in the third quarter to bolster Amazon Prime and transform it into a platform for premium media streaming service. They currently have 14 original comedy and children’s pilots through its website after starting two years ago. Five of these programs will be made into series starring named actors such as John Goodman and Ed Begley Jr. Amazon’s shows, including comedy Betas will be filmed locally depending on where the story takes place. This is anti-Hollywood for projects that are mostly filmed in Canada or other parts of the country for tax incentives. Just two pilots made it to series: the mentioned Betas and Alpha House.

Amazon’s recent slate of pilots has garnered award and critical acclaim such as with the transgender half-hour dark comedy Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and Bosch.

Because of Transparent’s double-Golden Globe win Amazon is offering a FREE streaming of its original program this Saturday to everyone and in addition Amazon is offering a limited time only discount on its Amazon Prime membership at $72. Transparent won both the Golden Globe for Best TV series, musical or comedy and Tambor won Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series. Tambor plays a father who comes out to his adult children as transgender. In his acceptance speech Tambor called Amazon “my new best friend.” Transparent bested Netflix’s House of Cards that only took home one award from six nominations.

Amazon has also acquired the rights to Under the Dome and Extant, and has a deal to stream HBO’s library of shows, such as The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and True Blood.

The new batch of pilots is due out in August: such as Whit Stillman’s drama The Cosmopolitans set in Paris, the Steven Soderbergh-produced comedy (in association with David Gordon Green, Greg Jacobs and Joe Gangemi) Red Oaks, Hand of God from Marc Forster and Ben Watkins. Also viewers can enjoy another second season of Transparent. Of note is the new series by writer/producer Chris Carter, The X-Files, with his apocalyptic thriller titled The After, that focuses on eight strangers trying to survive in a violent world.

Amazon Studios has also announced a partnership with controversial director Woody Allen to create his first-ever TV series. The Untitled Woody Allen Project will be a half-hour comedy focused on self-effacement and irony. As Allen states about the project:

“I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that Roy Price will regret this.” (Source)

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