Amazon Studios Now ScreenTesting Movie Ideas with Digital Comics – How is This New, Exactly?

Amazon Studios Now ScreenTesting Movie Ideas with Digital Comics - How is This New, Exactly? Amazon Crowd-Sourcing eBookstore Amazon appears to be out of ideas on what to make next, so they want your help. Amazon Studios is looking to crowd-source the selection process for the movies they produce.

They've uploaded a new digital comic for one of the movie projects, and they want you to read it and fill out a survey. The movie in question is titled Blackburn Burrows, and it looks to be a zombie movie set in the South before the War of Northern Aggression Civil War.

The comic will be serialized online over the next 4 months and each issue will include a survey which Amazon plans to use to collect reader feedback and decide whether it's worth turning the series into a movie. The Blackburn Burrows comic is hosted on, and if you're familiar with their rendering engine then you should have no issue reading these comics.

This comic is getting a lot of attention today, but I'm not exactly sure what is new about the idea - aside from the marketing.

Books and comic books have been used as a source for movies for decades now, since the very beginning of the industry.  So that's not new. And movie producers have often optioned books based on the media buzz and how popular a book is, with some titles being optioned before the book is even on the market (The Hunt for Red October or The Firm). So that's not new.

So all that I can see which is new is that the producers are using a direct approach to gauge interest in a movie project rather than the haphazard indirect approach used in the past. There's a structure to the market survey which was lacking before, and while that is useful I don't exactly see how this is new and amazing. Can someone clue me in?

Addendum: A friend on Twitter pointed out a flaw with this idea. It's structured nature, having the surveys right after the comics, sets up the possibility that the survey results could be gamed. All it would take is a few bored geeks to pad the survey with lots of bad results and then they're worthless. This wouldn't be the first time.


About Nate Hoffelder (11378 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

3 Comments on Amazon Studios Now ScreenTesting Movie Ideas with Digital Comics – How is This New, Exactly?

  1. I didn’t understand how this was innovative, either. But then I saw it, it’s right in the press release:

    “Amazon Studios is Amazon’s content development division that uses audience feedback to develop great, original entertainment customers will love.”

    Silly me, I didn’t realize it was so amazing. It is highly original and will be very popular. Otherwise, why would Amazon tell us that?

    Also, Amazon “reinvents normal”. It’s what the commercial says they do, right? Therefore, if they come out with this thing than it must be both innovative and earthshaking. How could it not be?

    Clearly, there must be something wrong with my life because I’m not spending all my free time reading and commenting on this comic book yet. I can’t wait for the next Amazon press release so I can learn about all the new exciting things that I should care about!

  2. I don’t think it’s innovative, but it is a nice change of pace to see a video-content creator taking the time to ask the audience what they want… The one major flaw is that they’re using a medium that still focuses the prospective market on the same crowd that Hollywood usually does, as most people over 30-35 years old still view comic books in a negative light.

    Also, is Amazon really using a (comic) book that depicts the pre-Civil War South as innocent victims of the big bad Northerners, as suggested by the use of “War of Northern Aggression” instead of “Civil War”? The resulting controversy could net them plenty of negative media attention, but it won’t/wouldn’t go over well with the vast majority of their customers.

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