Amazon makes foray into movie business

Internet retailer Inc. is making its first foray into the big-screen movie business after buying an option to develop a film from Keith Donohue's fantasy novel "The Stolen Child."

Amazon said it will not co-finance the film, but it plans to meet with studios and potential partners who can put the tale, in which fairies steal a young boy and replace him with a changeling, on the silver screen. The book currently ranks No. 62 in Amazon's list of 100 top sellers.

News of the option was first reported in the movie industry trade magazine "Variety."

"With our brand and our retail experience and customers around the world we believe we can be an extremely valuable partner in the development, marketing and distribution of this film," said Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener.

The deal comes on the heels of a recent agreement between Starbucks Corp. and Lionsgate in which the coffee shop company marketed the film "Akeelah and the Bee" in its stores.

While the partnership took Starbucks further into the entertainment arena -- the company already sells music CDs in stores and has deals for exclusive content with stars like Bob Dylan and Alanis Morissette -- the film itself disappointed at the box office.

Donohue, the author of "The Stolen Child," has already been featured on the Internet retailer's talk show "Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher." Seattle-based Amazon is adding entertainment content to its shopping site, in hopes of luring customers, and is beefing up its ability to sell digital content.

According to sources, Amazon has been talking with major music companies and Hollywood studios to offer both a digital music service and a movie-download business on its site. Those efforts could help the e-tailer compete with iTunes, the Apple Computer Inc. music service, and sell downloadable versions of films that could then be copied onto DVDs.

Positive reviews of "The Stolen Child" from customers, as well as the national media, fuelled the decision to option the book's screen rights, Herdener said, adding that it was too early to speculate on how Amazon would market any film eventually made.

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