Amazon Studios, the offshoot of online retailer Amazon.com that aims to source scripts and test movies, has major news this morning. The company says that, in addition to its film development plans, it’s now heading into original content production, with the launch of original comedy and children’s series for Amazon Instant Video.
According to the company, series creators are being invited to upload their proposals for comedy and children’s programming to Amazon Studios here. The best ones will then be distributed through Amazon Instant Video, which is Amazon’s digital video streaming service, and a competitor to services like Netflix and Hulu.
This initiative is a bit different than the content deals Netflix and Hulu have been making, as it’s not about working to source from established Hollywood writers, directors, and producers (necessarily), then funding their didn’t-quite-make-it-to-TV projects. Instead, Amazon is crowdsourcing development on a larger scale, seemingly making it possible for anyone with a good enough idea to make it big. (Well, Kindle Fire/Web big, that is).
Amazon says that every month, it will option one promising new project and add it to the development slate where it will be tested for viability. Obviously, this gives Amazon an out if all the content is truly awful that month – it doesn’t have to fund anything, in that case. If Amazon Studios elects to distribute a full-budget series, however, the creator will then receive $55,000, up to 5% of Amazon’s net receipts from toy and t-shirt licensing, and other royalties and bonuses. Amazon Studios’ production company, the People’s Production Company is signatory to the Writers Guild of America and to The Animation Guild, Local 839.
To submit a project, creators must offer a 5-page description, as well as a 22-minute pilot script for comedies, or an 11-minute pilot script for children’s shows. 45 days after submission, Amazon Studios will either extend an option on the project for $10,000 or invite the creator to add the project to the Amazon Studios site. If a project is not optioned, creators may remove their idea from the Amazon Studios site or leave it to get community feedback.
Leading the development at Amazon is Joe Lewis, formerly of 20th Century Fox and Comedy Central and Tara Sorenson, formerly of National Geographic Kids.
Since Amazon Studios’ launch in 2010 with Warner Bros. as partner (it was offered a first-look deal), the service has seen more than 700 test movies and 7,000 scripts submitted to the site. Today, there are 15 movie projects currently under development through the deals made on the service, says Amazon.