To date, Amazon has relied on distribution partners such as Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions, Bleecker Street and Annapurna to handle its movies. Roadside Attractions handled Amazon’s Manchester by the Sea and floated it to $47.7M while Lionsgate took The Big Sick this past summer to $42.7M. Last year, Amazon won its first three Oscars, two for Manchester by the Sea and one for Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman.
Boxer will report to Berney and word is that the Gotham executive will be bi-coastal. Boxer was promoted at IFC back in June. Boxer will oversee the booking of a 12-14 title slate of films with budgets ranging from $5M-$35M. The first title that Amazon will self-release will be Woody Allen’s $20M Wonder Wheel on Dec. 1 which will make its world premiere as the closing night title at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 14. Other titles to be self-distributed by Amazon include Lynne Ramsay’s Cannes Film Festival thriller You Were Never Really Here, Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot from Gus Van Sant, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote from Terry Gilliam, Peterloo from Mike Leigh, and Beautiful Boy from Felix van Groeningen.
Essentially, by self-distributing movies, Amazon gets to control its destiny, and if there’s a big hit, they can reap the awards and forego shelling out distribution fees to a partner.
Many assume that Amazon Studios is strictly about streaming given its access to the Amazon Prime portal. But that’s not the case. Amazon Studios is largely a practioner and protector of theatrical windows, and a champion of exhibiting mid-budget and specialty fare on the big screen. In an era where Netflix can feasibly snap up an independent title for $10M-$20M and provide an immediate in-home play in exchange for a theatrical window (their argument: That they’re giving the filmmaker access to a much bigger audience versus a theatrical release), Amazon Studios does distribution the old fashioned way. However, the parent company’s model is different in that they use film as carrot to hook consumers into their shopping site. Amazon Prime customers number 80M in the U.S. to Netflix’s roughly 51M count. Amazon Prime costs $99/year but customers get much more than streaming video with that; specifically delivery and sales perks. The average Prime customer per reports spends $1,300/ year to non Prime customers who spend $700 annually.
Boxer is a longtime New York distribution vet who originally cut his teeth in the trade at Victor Kaufman and Lewis Korman’s Savoy Pictures as a regional booker handling such releases as Minnie Driver’s breakout title Circle of Friends and Robert De Niro’s iconic directorial debut Bronx Tale. Among Boxer’s mentors were the late Jimmy Spitz, who was Savoy’s distribution chief, as well as Steve Rothenberg, and John Gruenberg. Post Savoy, Boxer’s career flourished at Sony where he distributed several wide releases during the late ’90s, and then Artisan Entertainment where he covered Central and East Coast film distribution and sales for 50-plus markets. A key title he handled for Artisan, was their breakout hit The Blair Witch Project ($140.5M). During Boxer’s run at IFC he has collaborated closely Sehring and Lisa Schwartz, helping to revolutionize indie film distribution by pioneering the day and date model with theatrical exhibition. Boxer was always a fixture on the festival circuit surveying product. At IFC he oversaw theatrical, non-theatrical and Canadian distribution for all IFC labels, including Sundance Selects and IFC Midnight labels. Boxer was the key architect behind the distribution strategy and release of the company’s biggest films, including Wakefield starring Bryan Cranston, Chuck starring Liev Schreiber and Elisabeth Moss; the critical Cannes premiere hit Personal Shopper with Kristen Stewart; the Oscar winning Boyhood, Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip series; and Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s award-winning documentary, Weiner.