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When Netflix started to break into the film distribution market last year, it looked like the relationship between streaming services and theatrical exhibitors was only getting rockier. While relations have no signs of improving just yet, competitor Amazon seems to have made some in-roads for any company that wants to work in both worlds of streaming and theatrical distribution. They've done so with the help of their latest acquisition, Elvis & Nixon, and at the cost of a couple million dollars.
Actually, that price is $4 million according to Deadline's scoop. The Kevin Spacey/Michael Shannon picture is now in the hands of Amazon Studios for its domestic distribution, with production house Bleeker Street sharing responsibilities. Hypothetically, Amazon would handle the digital distribution end, while Bleecker Street would push for more of the stereotypical theatrical distribution model – but it’s still impressive that a streaming service is getting behind a theatrically released movie. This is Amazon's first foray into original filmmaking, which puts them just behind Netflix's more aggressive efforts as of late.
With Netflix in line to distribute films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, War Machine, and The Ridiculous Six, it's been shelling out money left and right to be its own distribution platform. Amazon Studios looks to be merely purchasing domestic rights to streaming at this time. While Netflix and Amazon have different ways of going about their entrance into the feautre film market, their efforts could result in a similar payoff.
Deals such as the one Amazon Studios has just made for Elvis & Nixon could be the land bridge between the continents known as streaming/VOD and theatrical distribution. By partnering with traditional theatrical distributors like Bleecker Street, Amazon can not only dip its toes in directly securing the rights of films they want to distribute for streaming purposes, they can also make a push for the eventual acceptance of simultaneous distribution windows. With a couple of successes under their belt, Amazon Studios could even go straight into film production, much like Netflix.
Honestly, Amazon Studios couldn't have picked a better property than Elvis & Nixon to begin their possibly game-changing business venture. With big time stars like Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon involved, and the premise of going behind the curtain on one of history's more quizzical moments, the film has enough draw to bring audiences to the theaters, as well as attract casual viewers who roam about the Amazon Prime queues looking for any sort of new material to enjoy. It's a small step, with an equally small amount of risk compared to Netflix's current campaign, but in the long run Amazon Studios could be making a prudent move to strike a blow for digital content providers.
Elvis & Nixon has no release date as of yet, but it's only a matter of time before Amazon and Bleecker Street start to talk about when they want to go to market.