“Amazon Prime is now a threat to Netflix,” declared Jeffrey Cole, director of the University of Southern California’s Center for the Digital Future. So move over Netflix. Amazon — yes, the online retail giant — is creating original streaming content too, and has just won a Golden Globe for it, the first streaming service to do so. Netflix has established itself as a household name for not only carrying classic film and television favorites, but for producing original, critically acclaimed television shows like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.” Amazon, however, just earned its first Golden Globe for best television series, musical or comedy for “Transparent.” Huh? Yeah, I’ve never heard of it either. The hardware is merely ceremonious for Amazon, though. Its sights are set on the future, and ambition is in its eyes.
“Mozart in the Jungle” and “Mad Dogs,” two new series also produced by Amazon, have also been critically lauded of late. The company is expanding its digital streaming content by debuting pilots and picking up the series that viewers like most. Amazon has apparently had so much success with this method that it is attracting big names in Hollywood. Writer-director Woody Allen recently signed on to create a new television series, with an unspecified release date, but this is only the beginning. Phase two in Amazon’s plan for American entertainment domination is feature film production — a dozen per year to be precise. Amazon already dominates the online retail market, and it appears as though the entertainment market is next. Call it Operation “Amazon Takeover,” or the “Amazon Original Movies Initiative” — at least that’s the official name. It’s a little too benevolent if you ask me.
“The movies in this program will be ‘indie’ movies,” Roy Price, Amazon Studios vice president, said. “We will be looking for visionary creators who want to make original, unforgettable movies. We expect budgets to be between $5 million and $25 million.” These features won’t just stream online, though. They’ll also appear in theaters across the United States, weeks before they appear on Amazon Prime. This might appear to be an accommodating gesture by the online retail store, to share the profits with the suffering theater chain industry that has recently been mired by dated business practices and decreasing attendance. The truth is actually worse for Netflix, anyway. You see, Netflix is also in the process of producing its own feature films, the first of which is a sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” that’s due this summer. But there’s one crucial difference between the seemingly identical entertainment arms — Netflix is releasing its features to theaters and the streaming site simultaneously. This means that theater chains are going to lose money — a lot of money — and they probably won’t want to play ball anymore sooner rather than later. A year or two ago theater chains would have had no other choice but to cooperate with Netflix and its stubborn strategies, but now there’s a viable alternative not just for your favorite neighborhood cinema, but for you, the consumer, too.
Make no mistake — Netflix is not going anywhere anytime soon. Netflix Inc. stock is a surefire winner in today’s market, and it has its own lucrative deal with actor and comedian Adam Sandler for his next four films, so the Netflix apocalypse, if such an evil thing could ever occur, is far from sight. Now the question is, which service is better? If you want the most bang for your buck, the answer is … Amazon Prime. Wait, this can’t be right. At approximately $100 per year for both services, Amazon Prime brings way more to the table than Netflix, including two-day shipping for all items purchased through the online store, music streaming, e-books, and even on-demand rental movies if the streaming service is missing something you want. It might be time for Netflix to step up its game, because the competition has arrived and it is fierce. There’s no telling what happens next, but if history is any indicator, this cold war of entertainment demands a winner and a loser, and we might just see an upset.