Amazon Studios is moving full steam ahead into film distribution.
The streaming giant behind such films as Manchester by the Sea and The Big Sick will self-distribute Woody Allen’s upcoming film, Wonder Wheel, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
It’s a significant step for Amazon, which has previously partnered with traditional distributors like Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate to put its films into theaters. Amazon’s Bob Berney has always played a key role in the marketing of its films, but until now, the company has never had the infrastructure in place to book theaters and physically distribute movies. The company has been quietly building out a team of executives who could do just that.
With Wonder Wheel, Amazon joins companies, such as Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, that are beefing up their ranks and rivaling the established studios, particularly in the area of mid-budget non-tentpoles, a section of the business that has been largely ceded by the major studios.
Amazon is planning a Dec. 1 release, right in the heart of the awards-season fray. Prior to that, the film, which stars Kate Winslet, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake and James Belushi, will close out the New York Film Festival in October.
Amazon has been in business with Allen on two other projects: the 2016 Cannes premiere Cafe Society and the TV series Crisis in Six Scenes. Given the shorthand the company has developed with the director, he offers a natural fit for delving into a new area of the film business.
Wonder Wheel is a period drama set in New York in the 1950s. In addition to directing the pic, Allen wrote the screenplay.
At this point, Amazon has no other films that will be self-distributed, but that will likely change in the coming months.