Morning Media Newsfeed: Amazon to Produce Original Films | DWA Plans Layoffs

Amazon to produce original films for theatrical release. DreamWorks Animation planning layoffs. These stories and more in today's Morning Media Newsfeed

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Amazon to Produce Original Movies for Theatrical Release (FishbowlNY)
Coming soon to a theater near you: Original movies by Amazon.com. The company has announced that it will produce films for theatrical and digital release starting this year. LostRemote The initiative will be led by producer Ted Hope, co-founder of Good Hope productions, which released Hulk, Adaptation and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. THR Amazon’s films won’t be released day-and-date in theaters and online, instead planning to make its original movies available on its subscription-based Prime Instant Video streaming service in the U.S. four to eight weeks after their theatrical debuts. Mashable Amazon has been quietly trying to get original movies off the ground since late 2010, when it launched studios.amazon.com, a place where anyone could submit scripts for films and television. While some user-generated ideas were turned into TV pilots along the way, nothing on the film side was deemed worthy of its production dollars. WSJ Surely Amazon wants to be a player in Hollywood, but its move into theaters is also a way to goose membership rolls for its $99-per-year Prime program, which offers unlimited two-day shipping and free streaming content such as television, movies and music. Still, the Seattle company may face some resistance from theater operators who desire a longer window in which to screen films without online competition. Indeed, several large theater chains balked at Amazon rival Netflix Inc.’s plan to release a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon simultaneously in cinemas and on its streaming service this summer.

DreamWorks Animation Plans Substantial Layoffs (LA Times / Company Town)
Stung by a series of box office misfires and failed sale attempts, DreamWorks Animation has planned a substantial number of layoffs, two people familiar with the matter said. In a move to cut operating costs, the Glendale studio intends to significantly reduce the size of its workforce, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the plans. THR The number of workers who will be let go this time has not been finalized, but it is expected to be more than the 350 jobs that were cut in 2014 after the studio shelved the film Me And My Shadow. Variety Bill Damaschke, DWA’s chief creative officer, had already stepped down. Those most likely impacted will be animators, storyboard artists and other production personnel, according to sources. TheWrap The company currently employs around 2,200 people. This year, Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s company has seen How to Train Your Dragon 2 hit $618 million at the worldwide box office, while Penguins of Madagascar and Mr. Peabody And Sherman failed to meet expectations. The latter forced a $57 million write down in April, and last year’s Turbo and 2013’s Rise of The Guardians also sank deeply into the red.

GCHQ Captured Emails of Journalists From Top International Media (The Guardian)
GCHQ’s bulk surveillance of electronic communications has scooped up emails to and from journalists working for some of the U.S. and U.K.’s largest media organizations, analysis of documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals. Mashable Emails from the BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, Le Monde, The Sun, The New York Times and The Washington Post were saved onto the intelligence agency’s servers as part of bulk surveillance of electronic communications. While some of the emails were mass-produced PR messages, many included conversations between reporters and editors discussing stories. The Washington Post / The Switch The communications were among 70,000 emails siphoned up in less than 10 minutes. There is nothing to indicate that the journalists were intentionally targeted. GCHQ apparently obtained the data from one of its many taps on the fiber-optic cables that comprise the backbone of the Internet.