Cinemas stocks got a boost Wednesday after a report that online retailer Amazon plans to spend $1 billion a year on theatrical film releases.
Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, reported Amazon plans to release 12 to 15 movies in theaters, with the push into the local multiplex getting underway in 2023. An Amazon source tells The Hollywood Reporter that planning is only beginning for the theatrical effort and the exact number of titles has yet to be finalized.
The move follows the e-commerce giant acquiring MGM Studios for $8.45 billion. MGM is home to big screen franchises, including the James Bond series, which is part of the studio’s 4,000 film title library. Amazon always intended to have MGM keep making movies.
Cinema stocks surged on news of the theatrical movie push by Amazon. Shares in Cinemark rose $1.47, or 12 percent to $13.74 in late afternoon trading on Wednesday. The world’s largest chain, AMC Theatres, saw its stock price rise by 40 cents, or just over 5 percent, to $7.72. And shares in Imax rose $1.04, or 7 percent, to $15.48, while stock in Cineplex rose 45 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $10.38.
Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob told THR on Nov. 10 that the theater chain was in talks with online players, including Amazon and Apple, about putting their movies on its screens.
Plans for a renewed Amazon theatrical movie effort recalls Amazon Studios’ push nearly a decade ago to get into the movie business under a leadership regime led at the time by vp Roy Price and creative development head Ted Hope.
But after an early backlash by exhibitors to Netflix and other online video giants making brief releases of their film titles in theaters before shifting to streaming services, major cinema chains are stepping up negotiations with streamers as they embrace theatrical windows.
Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video have used movie theaters to market their upcoming movie streaming releases, and exhibitors are looking for Netflix to increasingly follow their lead.