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Amazon goes to Hollywood with film deal

(by Joshua Chaffin and Jonathan Birchall)

Amazon, the largest online retailer, is going to Hollywood after striking its first deal for the film rights to a best-selling novel.

It is expected to team up with a Hollywood studio and producer after it acquired the screen rights to The Stolen Child, a fantasy tale by first-time author Keith Donohue. As part of the agreement, Amazon pledged that it would market the film and its subsequent DVD on its website.

The deal comes during speculation that Amazon is poised to broaden its film ambitions by introducing a new video download service in conjunction with major Hollywood studios.

Amazon said it did not intend to co-finance the film, but that the company's brand, retail expertise, and customers around the world could make it 'an extremely valuable partner in the marketing and distribution of this film'.

Amazon has this year increased its involvement in video programming on its site, launching a weekly interview program with artists and authors. In 2004, the company alsoproduced five short live-actionfilms on its website, featuring famous actors, which it used to promote its credit card and the range of goods available on its US site.

Another asset Amazon couldbring to the film-making process is the consumer research compiled by its website. Based on its sales data, for example, Amazon wouldbe well positioned to target the film at customers who have read the book and others like it, or bought similar DVDs from the site.

The deal also reflects the growing presence of non-traditional producers in Hollywood.


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