“The direct-to-service strategy is happening,” Amazon Studios Head Jennifer Salke said at TCA this morning.

While Amazon Studios will continue to be a respecter of theatrical windows, it currently is making movies specifically for its Amazon Prime portal, and very well could emulate a similar qualifying theatrical-quick-to-streaming window that Netflix practiced this past awards season for its pics Roma, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and 22 July. 

You can’t say that Netflix’s awards season model didn’t work: Roma landed 10 Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Director, while the Coen Brothers’ Buster Scruggs busted in with three Oscar noms. And these pics didn’t have to suffer any headlines about poor ticket sales.

Netflix’s ‘Roma’
Carlos Somonte

Salke pointed to projects that already are in the works, i.e. the Blumhouse thematically-linked streaming pics, and Nicole Kidman’s deal that will make pics direct for Prime.

Salke mentioned that, in Amazon’s dealmaking, a flexibility has been built in so that the brass can determine what the best release strategy is for their pics, and what their consumers want, “or if an in-between exists,” the Amazon Studios boss said. Again, Amazon is not abandoning proper-window theatrical releases, it’s just that some films will go direct to service, or be a mix of theatrical/VOD.

Mark Boxer, who is Bob Berney’s lieutenant in theatrical distribution, previously served as IFC’s EVP Sales and Distribution and is one of the pioneers of the theatrical VOD model with such movies as Armando Iannucci’s Oscar-nominated feature In the Loop. 

Coming away from last month’s Sundance Film Festival, Amazon was the big buyer, shelling out around $50M for such prolific features as Late Night ($13M), The Report ($14M), Brittany Runs a Marathon ($14M) and Honey Boy ($5M).