You may know Amazon's Prime Video streaming service as the home of The Boys or The Rings of Power. Or you may see it as the place you buy and rent digital movies. But you might start to see it as another streaming service that gets movies shortly after a theatrical run.
Per a Bloomberg report, sources say Amazon is planning to out-spend Netflix and all other "internet companies" when it comes to the theater. The company looks to spend more than $1 billion USD per year on movies that will get theatrical releases, with a total of 12 to 15 films per year.
This super-sized slate won't be hitting next year, though, but the goal total would make it on par with Paramount Pictures. While the report doesn't mention Prime Video once, it would only make sense that these Amazon-produced films would become exclusives to its streaming service thereafter. So, expect theaters to be the place to see the best Prime Video movies first.
This all comes after Amazon's $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, which probably comes with a whole load of data that shows how profitable theatrical films are.
Amazon would then be following in the footprints of Disney Plus getting Marvel movies after theaters, HBO Max getting films such as The Batman and Elvis and Paramount Plus finally getting Top Gun: Maverick later this year.
Analysis: Streaming vs the Theater
During the first years of the pandemic, HBO Max led the charge to bring movies home, as theaters were unavailable. This, famously, created a major debate. Even at Tom's Guide, we've written on the subject, opining about how Nope is best in theaters and on the decline of the movie theater experience. Now that theaters are back open, studios are focused more on those releases than ever, with Warner Bros. Discovery killing off the straight-to-HBO Max Batgirl movie.
Companies, it seems, believe movies serve them best in theaters. For evidence, just look at how the biggest movie of the year, Top Gun: Maverick, took off in theaters on May 27, and took nearly 3 months to hit video-on-demand (August 23) before its DVD date (October 31) and its impending streaming date (Dec. 22). All while continuing to make money at the box office.
At one point, there was a rush to deliver all of the movies possible to the streaming services, as a way to keep them propped up. Now, the priorities have swung the other way. Netflix gave Knives Out sequel Glass Onion a week in theaters, which serves a few purposes. Not only does it pull in cash and open the movie for award eligibility, but it also promotes the upcoming streaming release.
That said, we doubt Amazon would follow Netflix's direction. If Bloomberg's sources are correct, such an investment would require lengthy theatrical runs to help recoup expenses. This is especially obvious given the above comparison to Paramount Pictures (which released Top Gun: Maverick).