Amazon's Potential 'Landmark' Deal May Be All About Prime

August 17, 2018

By Conor White

Amazon is looking to grab even more brick-and-mortar real estate and disrupt yet another industry.

The e-commerce/streaming giant is reportedly interested in acquiring Landmark Theaters, a move that Cinemablend's managing director Sean O'Connell said could be a good fit.

"Landmark right now basically specializes in indie-type films, mid-level budgets," O'Connell said Friday in an interview with Cheddar. "They're not necessarily going after all the blockbusters, and so, maybe this serves the niche that Amazon is trying to corner."

In true Amazon style, buying a chain of movie theaters wouldn't solely be about showing films.

"I think this is almost about business model and real estate as much as it is about the movies," said Larry Dignan, editor-in-chief of ZDNet. "The big question here is whether doing something like Landmark makes more sense than just waiting for something like Sears to bankrupt and take some of that real estate."

Dignan also suggested other factors were at play.

"The other end game here is they could add things into Prime subscriptions, because remember ー whatever Amazon does has everything to do with Prime subscriptions," he said.

A 70-year-old Supreme Court case may dictate whether Amazon is allowed to move forward with the purchase. The 1948 decision in United States v. Paramount prohibited studios from owning theaters and screening their own films ー paving the way for the present-day movie theater system. The Justice Department recently opened a review of the case, noting it may now be irrelevant. What the Justice Department decides could determine Amazon's future in this matter, and O'Connell said Amazon will be watching closely.

"There's only X amount of screens you can get on, and when you're competing against, let's say, Disney, that might have 'Christopher Robin', the latest Marvel film, a potential 'Star Wars' film on all those different screens, and Amazon is trying to get 'Beautiful Boy' or something in front of theaters, they're competing with that ー and so, now if they have their own chain, they can get those films in there."