Launching itself into the movie business in a big way, Amazon.com announced Amazon Studios today, a new online venture offering $2.7 million in award money for feature film and screenplay submissions to the site. According to an introductory video on the site’s home page, the awards will go to the films “that tell the best story, not to the films with the most visual polish.” Starting in January, each month, $100,000 will be awarded to the top film, and $20,000 to the top two scripts; at the end of the year, $1 million will go to the best film, and $100,000 to the best script, submitted in the 2011 calendar year.
While anyone is invited to comment and critique the submissions, the films and scripts will be judged by industry insiders — in January, Mark Gill (a former Miramax exec who produced Law Abiding Citizen and currently heads up his own production company, The Film Department), and Michael Taylor (chair of University of Southern California’s film and TV production program), will judge the “test” film submissions.
Through a first-look deal with Warner Bros., Amazon hopes at least some of the winning “test” films will be produced as commercial feature films, with another $200,000 going to any filmmakers who get their films a greenlight. If the film grosses over $60 million, the filmmakers will win a $400,000 bonus.
The site is accepting submissions today.