Amazon is moving into self-distributing its own movies, putting it on the path to becoming a full-fledged film studio. This winter, Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel is scheduled to open in theatres. It will be the first film by Amazon Studios released without the help of a distribution partner, Variety reports.
The film opens in theatres on Dec 1, 2017, and critics expect it to be an Oscar contender. Amazon has bought and produced several films since 2015, like the Oscar-nominated Manchester by the Sea and this year’s Landline. However, it has always partnered with a studio for theatrical distribution in the past.
The move to self-distribution makes Amazon more similar to a traditional film studio than its streaming competitors like Netflix. Netflix has expressed mild interest in theatrical releases, with some movies receiving a limited theatrical run. Nonetheless, the company has been clear that its movies will continue to be released online simultaneously with theatrical opens. Amazon has been more aggressive about getting its movies into theatres.
Amazon believes in premiering movies in theatres before offering them on its Prime digital service. With the move into self-distribution, Amazon now offers all of the services that a traditional film studio boasts — from financing to production to rolling out a picture in cinemas.
Variety also confirmed that “Wonder Wheel” will be the closing night film of this year’s New York Film Festival, which is presented by Film Society of Lincoln Center. Woody Allen has partnered with Amazon before, for his 2016 TV series Crisis in Six Scenes starring Miley Cyrus, which was widely panned by critics.
Amazon acquired the North American rights to Wonder Wheel last winter and plans to release it on Prime Video after a theatrical run. The movie is a carousel operator (Jim Belushi) and his wife (Kate Winslet) in 1950s Coney Island. The movie also stars Juno Temple as the couple’s daughter and Justin Timberlake as a lifeguard.
Amazon has scheduled the film’s release for December 2017.