The last vestiges of Amazon’s vision of giving anyone in the world a chance to break into the Hollywood big time are getting mothballed next month.
As of June 30, 2019, Amazon’s free, web-based tools for scriptwriters — Storywriter and Storybuilder — will no longer be available, according to a notice it sent to users on Sunday, May 5.
That comes a year after Amazon Studios stopped accepting unsolicited project pitches. In a notice to customers, the company explained the shutdown of Storywriter and Storybuilder by saying “At Amazon, we are always reinventing ourselves and looking for ways to become even more efficient.” The ecommerce giant said users should download any Amazon Storywriter projects and/or print out their Storybuilder “virtual corkboards” before June 30, after which they’ll be deleted from Amazon’s servers.
Amazon had originally hyped the tools and its crowdsourced development system as a breakthrough way to use technology platforms to democratize the process of funding TV shows and movies. It had claimed its development process incorporated user ratings and comments about pilots and scripts, but it’s not clear how extensively Amazon Studios execs actually used the data to make greenlighting decisions.
“There are a lot of great ideas in Hollywood, but not everyone can be there or get their work into the right hands,” the company said in the description of Amazon Storywriter. “Scripts are critically important in development, but they are just not accessible to most audiences.”
Amazon’s open-submission program had been championed by Amazon Studios founder Roy Price, who was fired in fall 2017 in the wake of sexual-harassment allegations against him. Over the life of the program, Amazon Studios appears to have greenlit only one over-the-transom screenplay to a full series: children’s show “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street” from first-time writer and preschool teacher David Anaxagoras.