Amazon Studios Faces a ‘Late Night’ Disaster, Bob Berney’s Exit, and Bidding-War Realities

IndieWire | 6/27/2019 | Staff
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This week, Amazon Studios became a standard-bearer for the issue impacting every specialized distributor: Exactly how is it supposed to get people to watch their movies?

Exhibit A is the failure of “Late Night,” for which Amazon paid $13 million in North American rights. With 2,200 screens in its second week, the well-reviewed “Late Night” saw a per-screen average of $2,367, and will likely end its run at or near $20 million.

Exhibit - B - Exit - Bob - Berney

Exhibit B is the exit of Bob Berney, head of Amazon Studios’ marketing and distribution. He decided that when his four-year contract expired on June 15, it was the right time to leave. “I fulfilled my deal and we did some great stuff,” he told IndieWire. “I am proud of the team. I want to move on. I’ve done everything I think I can do there.”

Already, Salke is making moves to right the ship. Although Amazon launched declaring its intent to honor traditional theatrical windows, she’s been public in questioning the streamer’s commitment to full-on theatrical film distribution. At this point, that hardly seems like a radical stance: A recent Variety report places the marketing spend for “Late Night” at $33 million. That would place costs at $46 million, and with Amazon collecting perhaps 50% of box-office receipts, the total loss will be massive by any measure.

Amazon - Fates - Sundance - Acquisition - Brittany

Amazon must be praying that the fates are kinder to another Sundance acquisition, “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” which goes wide August 23; it spent $14 million on worldwide rights. However, that film also faces a cruel calculus of the current marketplace: The hottest Sundance movies appear to have the best chance of high returns; hot movies mean bidding wars, which mean high prices. Turning a profit at those prices demands a wide release, which in turn demands a minimum of $20 million in P&A...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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