Amazon is launching Amazon Studios, a website that they are hoping will turn into a viable production label for producing feature films. Whose movies are they going to make? Yours! Well, maybe.
The Amazon Studios website lets anyone upload scripts or completed films to be rated, commented on, and even edited by other users. A team of industry veteran judges will also take a look at the content, including Jack Epps Jr., producer of Top Gun, Mark Gill, former head of Miramax; and Michael Taylor, producer of Bottle Rocket.
Amazon has set aside $2.7 million in prize money to dole out to highly rated users next year alone. But in exchange for a shot at a prize, users must give Amazon exclusive rights to their material for 18 months — even if they don't end up winning anything. Apparently, this is because Amazon wants to discourage paid screenwriters and filmmakers from submitting entries.
Amazon can then take these projects to Warner Bros., with which it has a first look deal. If Warner Bros. decides to turn the submission into a feature movie, the user gets $200,000. Then, in the (insanely unlikely) event that the movie goes on to make more than $60 million at the box office, the user gets paid an extra $400,000.
"The goal is to get commercial feature films made and distributed through the studio system," said Amazon Studios director Roy Price. "That's the only way this project can make any money."
The whole endeavor seems like a waste of time to us. At best, it's an almost-clever marketing stunt.