And Amazon’s not exactly starting small; it plans to produce up to 12 movies each year as part of the new initiative, and those efforts will kick off in earnest later this year.
Bezos must be drunk.
It was a disaster that basically ended his career.
It also prompted Grade to move into the film industry, where he had success with Farewell My Lovely (1975). Other films of the period made with Grade’s involvement include the co-releases The Boys From Brazil (1978) with 20th Century Fox and Movie Movie (also 1978) with Warner Brothers. He was a producer on the Ingmar Bergman films Autumn Sonata (1978) and From the Life of the Marionettes (1980). One domestic British film made by the ITC subsidiary Black Lion Films, The Long Good Friday (1980) was purchased and released by HandMade Films after Grade and his company had effectively disowned it, for in Grade’s reputed opinion, seeming to be sympathetic to the IRA. Only HandMade’s second release, their first success, Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), was originally to have been made by EMI Films, but after company head Bernard Delfont, Grade’s brother, read the script the financing was abruptly withdrawn.
Grade’s backing of an expensive “all-star” flop was to prove decisive. Of Raise the Titanic (1980), an adaptation of the novel by Clive Cussler, Grade himself observed that “It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic”. The film was panned by critics and, after costing $36 million, returned only $8 million in rentals.
Wikipedia is being rather brief and generous. Grade backed bomb after bomb. The amount of money that was lost in going to movies was a huge disaster.
The budgets look minuscule compared to today. So a bit of perspective: Raise the Titanic would have been equivalent to over two-hundred million dollars in 2015 money.
Grade essentially lost his entire reputation on this gambit. I was studying the film industry at the time, buying weekly Variety regularly and reading just about all of it. They began to call him “Low” Grade because of these movies.
Yet he was a man whose touch when it came to TV was impeccable.
One realm of expertise doesn’t necessarily transfer to another.
Just because you can succeed in TV doesn’t mean success in movies — as others have found out!
And now Bezos wants to go Hollywood — with twelve movies a year! Twelve! How many more billions does he intend to lose?
Schick Sunn Classic Pictures thought they “cracked the code” of movies once. They lost their shirts too.
That Bezos thinks he can succeed where Grade and Sunn — among many others — failed is just hubris off the scale.
And a word to everyone self-publishing through Amazon: Check your contracts. Is there anything in there about Amazon Studios getting first crack at TV/movie rights? If there isn’t — wait. It’s bound to happen.