Amazon is planning to buy a cinema chain in the US

Is Amazon’s plan simply another bid to beat Netflix in the film industry?

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Amazon, not content with its Prime Video offering being restricted to TVs and tablets, could be making a play to buy a chain of cinemas in the US.

Amazon’s plan is to purchase Landmark Theatres – the largest cinema chain in the US dedicated to independent and foreign film. Bloomberg reported that billionaire Mark Cuban and other members of Landmark Theatres’ owners were discussing the sale to Jeff Bezos’ ecommerce giant.

According to Bloomberg’s sources who are familiar with the deal, no agreement has yet been reached and a finalised deal may not actually materialise. So, in essence, none of this may actually happen.

However, if the deal did go through and Amazon were to purchase the cinema chain, it would be a big addition to Amazon’s portfolio. The company has been moving into more brick and mortar businesses over the last few years, including its purchase of Whole Foods and the launch of its Amazon Go store in Seattle.

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A cinema chain would certainly be quite the change for Amazon from its streaming platform Prime Video too. Last year Amazon was estimated to spend $4.5 billion on content for Prime Video so if it can find another way to put that original content in front of audiences who don’t subscribe to Prime, it could be a boon for Amazon. Owning Landmark Theatres also means Amazon could form closer ties with movie studios and publishers and therefore snag some bigger and more recent releases for Prime Video – well before Netflix get hold of things.

It’s also an opportunity for Amazon to garner more respect for its films from the industry, providing more than simple “token” runs of them so they can be nominated for awards – as filmmaker Steven Spielberg had previously accused them for.

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One avenue Amazon could offer is a larger audience for the smaller films that Landmark tends to show. If Amazon rolled its cinema business in with Prime membership, smaller films could find themselves enjoying higher footfall thanks to discounted cinema tickets and then an even bigger audience as they automatically end up on Prime Video once their cinema run has finished.

It’s not known how much Amazon may have to pay for Landmark Theatres but, when you’re owned by the richest man in the world, chances are Amazon can afford it.

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