SEATTLE -- Amazon (AMZN) Studios is branching out from television series to movies, with plans to begin producing and acquiring original movies for theatrical release and -- within weeks -- video streaming.
Just five years after its launch, Amazon Studios says it will begin producing motion pictures this year and aims to release a dozen original "prestige movies" annually.
Independent filmmaker Ted Hope will oversee creative development for the new unit, Amazon Original Movies. Hope co-founded and ran Good Machine, a production company behind some Academy Award-nominated films, including "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Eat Drink Man Woman."
Amazon Original Movies will focus on unique stories, characters and voices from "top and up-and-coming creators," according to the company. Once movies have hit theaters, they'll debut on Amazon Prime Instant Video within four to eight weeks -- far less than the usual 39 to 52 weeks movies now take to stream.
Amazon's plan follows similar moves by streaming rival Netflix (NFLX) for four original Adam Sandler movies and the sequel to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."