Surprisingly not content to simply craft original material for the small (computer) screen, Amazon is now jumping into the cinematic fray. As our own Chris Campbell reported yesterday, the online retailer is expanding their programming options to include original films, which will play in both theaters and via their own streaming platform. The newly launched Amazon Original Movies will both produce and acquire new features, all expected to fall in the “indie” (bahahah) budget range of $5M to $25M each.
Amazon Original Movies is expected to start production on their first batch of films this year – and with Sundance coming up in mere hours, we wouldn’t be surprised if the AOM crew showed up in Park City to do some acquiring of new films – and although we don’t yet know what sort of features to expect from the new mini-studio, we might be able to take a guess, at least based on some of the directors the company is already in bed with (hey, it’s a new world, let’s get a little scandalous).
1. Jill Soloway
We’re guessing that Amazon won’t forget that their Golden (Globes) girl, Transparent creator Soloway, is also a feature filmmaker. Soloway only has one feature under her belt – Afternoon Delight, which I’ve made no bones about not really liking – which earned her the Directing Award back at Sundance in 2013. Despite not liking her material so much, Soloway showed really chops as a director, assembling a great cast, playing around with some tricky tone, and basically putting her own stamp all over the material. I’d love to see what else she has up her sleeve and, with the backing of a studio that owes her a lot, Soloway could likely get tons of creative freedom, something she knows how to harness with ease.
2. Steven Soderbergh
Oh, hey, Steven. How is your retirement going? Spending lots of time on the golf course and taking long naps and leisurely walks? No? You’ve spent your retirement just making loads and loads of cool new work? Yeah, totally! That’s totally what retirement is for! Steven Soderbergh is not retired, and even if we all want to get tricky and say “oh, he’s retired from films,” we all know that’s a lie. Get over it. It’s a good thing Soderbergh is still working, and that includes work on – what’s that? – a new Amazon television series, Red Oaks. The comedy series will debut as part of Amazon’s third wave of pilots and will chronicle the exploits of an assistant tennis pro at a 1980’s New Jersey country club.
3. Marc Forster
Forster’s recent cinematic offerings – from World War Z to Machine Gun Preacher to Quantum of Solace — haven’t really delivered, but his latest project (guess what it is! it’s an Amazon pilot!) sounds like the sort of high-concept production that could get him back on track. As Deadline describes it, Forster’s Hand of God “centers on the powerful Judge Harris Pernell (Ron Perlman), a hard-living, law-bending married man with a high-end call girl on the side who has a religious awakening and starts having visions and hearing voices through his ventilator-bound son that could be God speaking to him.” That sounds kind of amazing, and if it gets Forster to refocus his often scattered vision, perhaps he could even do a little something for Amazon Original Movies. No Machine Gun Preacher 2, please.
4. David Gordon Green
Remember, way back to two points ago, when we talked about Steven Soderbergh’s new Amazon series, Red Oaks? I might have (purposely) failed to mention that the series will be directed by David Gordon Green. Yes, Green’s plate is full enough – this is a guy who is always working on something in some capacity – but wouldn’t it be great if he could bring his unique brand of humor to a full-length feature with Amazon? Green’s comedy has stalled out a bit since the double whammy that was The Sitter and Your Highness, but he’s probably still got some Pineapple Express brilliance lurking in him, and Amazon could be a hell of a home for that.
5. Whit Stillman
You can watch the pilot for Stillman’s new Amazon series, The Cosmopolitans, right now, which should be enough to get you excited about the series, which finally got a series order last October. If you’re a Stillman fan, any Stillman is good Stillman (I still adore Damsels in Distress to an almost unhealthy degree), but the indie auteur simply doesn’t make as many movies as we’d like to see from him. Hey, we hear Amazon has money.
6. Roman Coppola
Coppola’s Mozart in the Jungle is already earning big raves for Amazon, so why not toss the guy a bone and let him restart his feature directing career? And, yes, we say that in hopes that we can all forget A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III.
(And probably not Woody Allen.)