Amazon has big plans to stay busy this year. The multi-talented brand has just announced a few projects that just might attract a few new subscribers, while keeping current users content and happy.
The first announcement is a pleasant surprise for anyone who loves Bollywood and Indian produced movies. Amazon is attempting to widen their demographic with the addition of Heera, a new-curated on-demand subscription service from Amazon, featuring movies, serials, and children’s content in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi and Bengali. The service, priced at $5 per month, will be available only in the U.S. and requires membership in the $99-per-year Amazon Prime program. Herra is the second branded SVOD channel from the ecommerce giant, after it debuted the Anime Strike channel earlier this year. The new channel will offer “several hundred” classic titles and recent releases, including top Bollywood films such as “Sultan” starring Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma; “Fan” starring Shah Rukh Khan; and “Kapoor and Sons” with Sidharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt.
But that’s not all the company has in store for 2017. Their pilot season is set to kick off mid-March with 5 new shows including, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” from “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, and “Oasis,” which possesses both Richard Madden and Mark Addy from “Game of Thrones. Amazon is also dipping its toes in the adult animated space with the pilot “The New V.I.P.’s,” a series that follows a group of low-level employees who seize control of a major corporation after accidentally murdering their boss.
In addition to adult animation, the company has made huge investments in independent film. After buying up five films at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Amazon has snatched up exclusive subscription-streaming rights to a dozen more titles from the fest. The new deals fall under the company’s Amazon Video Direct (AVD) program, which offered filmmakers, who had their movies officially screened at Sundance, a cash bonus of up to $100,000 for two-year SVOD rights. The deal also included streaming royalties. The company ended up paying $400,000 total in bonuses for the 12 features acquired through the AVD program and were so pleased with the results that they have extended similar offers to this year’s SXSW, Tribeca Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.
“We saw an opportunity where we could put together a package for films that aren’t targeted by studios, for filmmakers who want to self-distribute,” said Eric Orme, head of Amazon Video Direct.
Amazon isn’t the first streaming business to target the indie film crowd. The festival feels strangely reminiscent of Vimeo’s push with the Toronto Film Festival in 2014, where Vimeo made one of its largest pitches to independent film makers: $10 million in financial and marketing support.