The mini-major is the brain child of “Fifth Element” and “Lucy” director Luc Besson. Its pictures will appear on the streaming platform during what is called the “pay-TV window.” That’s an industry term for the period of time in which a film can debut on premium pay television or streaming platforms and usually takes place roughly seven to nine months after its theatrical release.
Amazon has signed distribution deals with A24, Bleecker Street, Open Road and Music Box Films in the past, but this pact is different. Those studios tend to release films that have an indie edge, whereas EuropaCorp’s films are more mainstream and action-oriented in tone. The company’s catalogue of 500 films includes the “Taken” and “Transporter” franchises.
EuropaCorp also weighed going with a more traditional premium cable network like an HBO or Showtime before deciding to partner with a streaming service.
“We were looking at every kind of opportunity,” said David Spiegelman, president of domestic television and digital distribution at EuropaCorp. “We always like being one of the first ones in on a new type of deal. We get to be pioneers.”
Spiegelman said he looks at the distribution deal as being the start of a relationship with Amazon that could deepen as the web giant expands on its drive into film and television production.
“There are so many opportunities with the world of television expanding so quickly,” said Spiegelman.
He also said he liked the fact that unlike other platforms, Amazon doesn’t just stream films, it sells them as well.
“It’s a complete service,” said Spiegelman. “It’s a one-stop shop at a time when we have to do everything we can to get consumers to buy films and make them as accessible as we can.”
The first Europa film to be added to Prime through this deal will be “The Transporter Refueled.” Other 2016 releases eventually making their way to Amazon include “Shut In,” a thriller with Naomi Watts; “Nine Lives,” a family comedy with Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Garner; “The Lake,” an action-thriller with J.K. Simmons; action-fantasy “Warriors Gate” and gun control thriller “Miss Sloane” with Jessica Chastain.
EuropaCorp recently began distributing its own films in the United States through a joint venture with Relativity Media, but that pact only extends to theatrical releases, a spokeswoman for the company said. Relativity Media has its own pay-TV deal with Netflix.
Like Netflix, Prime is a subscription service that Amazon offers for $99 per year along with unlimited two-day shipping.