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Amazon to Open Two Bookstores in Denver, Could Buy a Movie Theater Chain

Brick and mortar retail is dead, they say – so dead that Amazon continues to open bookstores, and is now rumored to be bidding on a small chain of movie theaters.

Business Den reports that Amazon has chosen a second location for an Amazon Books in the Denver region.

Amazon has settled on a spot in Cherry Creek for its bookstore.

The online retail giant plans to open Amazon Books on the ground floor of Financial House, the eight-story office building under construction at the northwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Detroit Street, according to tenant finish permit applications submitted to the city.

The company will occupy the building’s sole retail unit, which is approximately 5,000 square feet.

When rumors first broke about Amazon opening a bookstore in Denver, the location was said to be in Cherry Creek. A few months later Amazon announced they would open an Amazon Books in a different part of Denver, but now it seems the earliest rumors were true all along.

When it opens, the second Denver Amazon Books location will be either the 19th or 20th Amazon Books store.

That will hardly be a newsworthy event; however, the same cannot be said for today’s other rumors.

Bloomberg says Amazon is looking to acquire Landmark Theaters.

Amazon is in the running to acquire Landmark Theaters, a move that would vault the e-commerce giant into the brick-and-mortar cinema industry, according to people familiar with the situation.

The company is vying with other suitors to acquire the business from Wagner/Cuban Cos., which is backed by billionaire Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The chain’s owners have been working with investment banker Stephens Inc. on a possible sale, the people said. No final decisions have been made, and talks could still fall apart.

Pushing into movie theaters would follow Amazon’s expansion into myriad other forms of media, including a film and TV studio and music service. With Landmark, it gets a chain focused on independent and foreign films with more than 50 theaters in 27 markets, including high-profile locations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Landmark’s theaters are known for art-house fare, and some high-end locations include coffee bars or lounges, setting them apart from the typical movie experience.

Landmark is a relatively small chain whose purchase matters less for the market share than for how Amazon might use it.

If Amazon owned Landmark it could bid on movie projects and make the promise that the film would be shown in theaters. Amazon might also offer free movie tickets as a benefit of Amazon Prime, thus encouraging more consumers to sign up.

In financial terms, this deal is chump change, but the indirect effect could be huge.

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Bill Peschel August 16, 2018 um 4:51 pm

"If Amazon owned Landmark it could bid on movie projects and make the promise that the film would be shown in theaters. "

Wouldn’t that violate anti-trust law? I seem to remember a high court ruling that separated the major studios from the chains they owned.

Disgusting Dude August 16, 2018 um 5:51 pm

The Bloomberg article addresses this.

It seems the Paramount Decree is going away:

"The U.S. has previously barred film studios from the theater industry. But the government said earlier this month that it was considering terminating a 70-year-old Hollywood settlement that halted the vertical integration of studios and theaters. The so-called Paramount decree may have prevented smaller films from getting wider distribution.

“It’s very possible that the Paramount decree gets overturned,” said David Miller, an analyst with Imperial Capital LLC. “It will be interesting to see if Amazon could be the first to test the new rules.”

The way the movie business is going, with blockbusters taking over the bulk of the exhibition dates and streaming services moving into the production side, there isn’t much point to monopolizing B&M movie distribution when 4K streaming can deliver a better viewing experience in many if not most cases.

Nate Hoffelder August 16, 2018 um 5:54 pm

Given the small size of the chain and the small output of Amazon’s movie unit, I don’t think antitrust will come into it.

Disgusting Dude August 16, 2018 um 5:38 pm

Oscar nominations only apply to movies that are first shown in theaters. This has stymied Netflix because the Hollywood establishment isn’t terribly fond of Netflix these days. (How dare they get into the production side of the business!)

And they’re starting to look askance at Amazon Studios as Prime keeps on growing.

Buying a theater chain assures them of a B&M outlet for the Indie/arthouse films they favor regardless of what other theater chains might think of Amazon Studios.
(Think of it as yet another side-effect of the ongoing boycott of AmazonPublishing by B&M stores.)

As for antitrust, it doesn’t seem to apply to that market; Cuban bought Landmark to feed his MAGNOLIA movies day-and-date to theaters and HDNET MOVIES. Technically, the various parts of the business have been up for sale since 2011 but only in the "right deal".

Allen F August 16, 2018 um 5:51 pm

"Wouldn’t that violate anti-trust law? I seem to remember a high court ruling that separated the major studios from the chains they owned."

Got any links to go with that? If so then you’d think Netflix shouldn’t be able to make shows 'just' for their 'chain'. Heck, how many stations/sites making content you can only see if you pay for those sites? (Or maybe they’ll sub-company it out like those same 'major studios' and their 'chains' …)

Another thing to remember is that 'one' of the reasons Amazon opened bookstores was B&N and others refused to stock Amazon published books. I would have thought that would have tripped any 'anti-trust laws' if they covered such things.

Nate Hoffelder August 16, 2018 um 6:11 pm


Allen F August 16, 2018 um 6:19 pm

Thanks Nate. 😉

Mike Cane August 16, 2018 um 6:34 pm

It’s difficult for me to understand why Amazon would want a theater chain. Entertainment is headed to cellphones (see Kathezenberg’s NewTV) and short-form. Bezos has a motive I can’t grasp. But then, that was the case with buying a grocery chain too…

Disgusting Dude August 16, 2018 um 8:23 pm

Forget the "theater chain" part. Focus on the "art house" part.

Now, ponder: what kind of people got to arthouse movies, buy groceries at Whole Paycheck, and buy, buy, buy everything they can online?

Afluent urban folks.

As Woodward and/or Bernstein said: follow the money.

Mike Cne August 17, 2018 um 5:40 am

They don’t go to *that* many movies. And they have 85-100″ TVs to stay at home.

"Whole Paycheck" is a good one. Ha!

Disgusting Dude August 17, 2018 um 7:14 am

Still not getting it:
It’s not about monetizing the theaters; It’s about monetizing the theater goers by drawing them into Prime. Probably with a MoviePass or KU kind of deal.

Mike Cane August 17, 2018 um 9:51 am

Yes, that makes some sense now! Amazon MoviePass! Thanks.

Nate Hoffelder August 17, 2018 um 12:06 pm

that is what I was getting at in my post, yes

Will Entrekin August 17, 2018 um 10:43 pm

"It’s difficult for me to understand why Amazon would want a theater chain."

If nothing else, Landmark has a theater in LA. Qualifies for AMPAS/Oscars eligibility. Amazon Studios would no longer require co-distributors for, for example, movies like "Manchester by the Sea." Just like there are literary awards who close to "self-published authors," there are movie awards closed to "streaming services." Sometimes with enough capital or entrepreneurial spirit, a smart company can make an end run around obsolete eligibility requirements.

Nate Hoffelder August 18, 2018 um 6:48 am

For example, Cannes film festival bans movies without French theatrical distribution from competing.!

This doesn’t help with the Cannes rule but it’s a step in that direction.

Disgusting Dude August 18, 2018 um 11:10 am

There’s also the economics of theater attendance, which dominates blockbusters but also impacts arthouse theaters: 70-80% of attendance comes in weekends. Some theaters in smaller communities run skeleton crews and minimal showings during the week.

A moviepass type of deal limited to mon-wed (which some of the bigger chains are now doing) could drive attendance to the fallow days and particularly so for Indie movies. This is something Amazon could do better than most by discounting it as a Prime Perk. Say, two free seats once a week for $10 a month, $5 for Prime members.

Owning the movie distribution rights and the theaters would allow them to negotiate profitable terms for all three parties (theaters, distributor, creatives) which is where Moviepass failed.

There is a case to be made that Amazon could squeeze more profit out of the chain and the movies by owning both. Even without award buzz boosting the movies.

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