Amazon and Netflix want to control the market for deep, edgy indie films, too

Amazon is upping the ante at the Sundance Film Festival this year.

The e-commerce company, which scored its first Golden Globe film award for Manchester by the Sea, a title it picked up at Sundance last year, plans bonuses of up to $100,000 for two-year streaming rights to this year’s official Sundance selections. That’s in addition to royalties, according to Deadline.

The incentives are an extension of Amazon Video Direct, a program that feeds entertainment content into Amazon’s streaming-video platform, Prime Video, by allowing creators to upload videos directly.

Streaming technology has made it easier than ever for independent filmmakers to reach audiences. But it’s also introduced new competition, making it harder for small films to get noticed. Getting a film on Amazon or Netflix, however, gives filmmakers a built-in audience, one that is both big and small.

“These new players came in and disrupted the market and it’s great,” said Joana Vicente, executive director of the Independent Film Project in New York, a non-profit that helps independent filmmakers to navigate production and distribution. “There’s hope for independent film.”

Vicente cautioned, however, that landing a major deal with Amazon or any other distributor at Sundance is still like winning lottery. Smaller filmmakers, she said, should be strategic about their options.

Prestigious, independent titles, meanwhile, have helped solidify Amazon and Netflix’s standings as serious players in the film industry. Movies like Manchester by the Sea and Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation have captured the type of awards buzz and critical recognition that put those same companies on the map in the TV genre. And all of that begets more talent and viewers.

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Amazon and Netflix want to control the market for deep, edgy indie films, too

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