×

Amazon Moves Into Self-Distribution With Woody Allen’s ‘Wonder Wheel’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Amazon is moving into self-distributing its own movies, putting it on the path to becoming a full-fledged film studio.

The company will release Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel” without bringing in a distribution partner. The film opens in theaters on Dec. 1, 2017, and is expected to be an Oscar contender.

Amazon began buying and producing films in 2015, working with filmmakers such as Whit Stillman and Spike Lee, and earning Academy Awards for last year’s “Manchester By the Sea” and “The Salesman.” However, it has relied on independent studios such as Bleecker Street, Roadside Attractions, and Lionsgate to bring its film to theaters.

With their deep pockets and big ambitions, Amazon and Netflix have upended the film distribution landscape, although they have taken different approaches. Netflix is solely focused on servicing its streaming service subscribers. Amazon believes in premiering movies in theaters before offering them on its Prime digital service. With the move into self-distribution, Amazon now offers all of the services that a traditional film studio boasts — from financing to production to rolling out a picture in cinemas.

Variety also has confirmed that “Wonder Wheel” will be the closing night film of this year’s New York Film Festival, which is presented by Film Society of Lincoln Center. The movie is set in Coney Island in the 1950s. It follows a lifeguard (Justin Timberlake) who tells the story of a middle-aged carousel operator (Jim Belushi) and his beleaguered wife (Kate Winslet). The couple are visited by their estranged daughter (Juno Temple), which sets the plot in motion. The film reunites Allen cinematographer Vittorio Storaro — the two previously collaborated on last year’s “Cafe Society.”

Bob Berney, Amazon’s head of marketing and distribution, will oversee the company’s theatrical rollouts. The company is also adding staff. Amazon’s move into self-distribution has been rumored for some time. There was speculation that Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying,” would also be self-distributed, but insiders tell Variety, that the film will be released in conjunction with a studio partner. Other upcoming Amazon releases include Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck,” Mike White’s “Brad’s Status,” and Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria.”

More Film

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: 'Us' on Track for Second-Highest Debut of 2019 With $67 Million

    Jordan Peele’s “Us” is on its way to scaring up one of the biggest debuts of 2019, with an estimated $67 million from 3,741 North American locations. Should estimates hold, “Us” will be able to claim several milestones: the highest debut for an original horror movie (the biggest launch for any horror pic goes to [...]

  • 'The Dirt' Review: A Mötley Crüe

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

  • Zac Efron Amanda Seyfried

    Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried Join Animated Scooby-Doo Film as Fred and Daphne

    Zac Efron has signed on to voice Fred Jones while Amanda Seyfried will voice Daphne Blake in Warner Bros.’ animated Scooby-Doo feature film “Scoob.” It was revealed earlier this month that Will Forte had been set to voice Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, while Gina Rodriguez would be voicing Velma Dinkley. The mystery-solving teens and their talking [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content