New 'Amazon Theater' launches co. into showbiz

Amazon.com is the latest consumer company to get into the film biz, launching a series of short pics on its Web site to promote an array of products that it sells and promising an upcoming “major short-film initiative.”

E-tailer is working with Ridley and Tony Scott’s RSA USA to create five shorts that it began running Tuesday and will update each week. Films are directed by RSA helmers, including Tony Scott, and feature thesps including Minnie Driver, Blair Underwood and Chris Noth.

Launch of “Amazon Theater” makes it the latest company to get into branded entertainment, although Amazon is the first retailer to promote a variety of different products. Previous players have been companies such as BMW, American Express and Jaguar looking to market a single brand.

Films were created independently by RSA’s helmers, after which Amazon worked with the different brands it sells to integrate their products into the pic.

Each film includes a detailed list of all the products from the pic for sale on Amazon in the credits and has clickable links to purchase them all on the accompanying Web page.

In addition, each participating thesp get his or her own Web page with a bio and list of credits, along with clickable links for DVDs or albums on sale at Amazon. Company created the promotional pages in lieu of paying full fee to attract talent for the pics.

Amazon has been increasingly using video on its site for a while — a recent clip involving Jon Stewart, for instance, promoted “America: The Book,” by Stewart and other “Daily Show” writers.”We thought we could go one step further with this whole genre by creating pure entertainment,” said Amazon.com spokeswoman Chris Bruzzo. “They’re not films about a certain product, but original movies for which we worked with our vendors to find products that would make sense.”

Amazon plans to continue the offering with what it’s calling a “major short-film initiative.” Company’s recruiting tyro filmmakers to sign up for the program via its Web site, although it didn’t provide any further details on the plan.

Netco worked with agency Fallon Worldwide, which helped create BMW’s series of short Web films, on the new initiative.

Shorts were further sponsored by Chase, which is integrating ads for its Amazon.com branded credit card throughout Amazon Theater.

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