Ted Hope has been named head of production at Amazon Original Movies as the company behind Golden Globe winner Transparent plans to produce and acquire 12 original features a year.

Films will launch in theatres and arrive on Amazon Prime Instant Video 30-60 days later in the freshest attack on theatrical exhibition.

Amazon issued a statement that said: “ Whereas it typically takes 39 to 52 weeks for theatrical movies to premiere on subscription video services, Amazon Original Movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. just 4 to 8 weeks after their theatrical debut.”

“We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films,” said Amazon Studios. Vice-president Roy Price.

“Not only will we bring Prime Instant Video customers exciting, unique, and exclusive films soon after a movie’s theatrical run, but we hope this programme will also benefit film-makers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.”

Hope added: “Audiences already recognise that Amazon has raised the bar with productions in the episodic realm, tackling bold material in unique ways and collaborating with top talent, both established and emerging.

“To help carry the torch into the feature film world for such an innovative company is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility.

“Amazon Original Movies will be synonymous with films that amaze, excite, and move our fans, wherever customers watch. I am incredibly thrilled to be part of this.”

Hope co-founded Good Machine and his producer credits include American Splendor, The Ice Storm and Super.

Amazon Studios most recently debuted its dramatic comedy Mozart In The Jungle from Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Paul Weitz, John Strauss and Alex Timbers as well as Jill Soloway’s multi-Golden Globe Award-winning dark comedy Transparent tarring Jeffrey Tambor.

The next four original series to debut in 2015 are Michael Connelly’s Bosch; Hand Of God from Marc Forster and Ben Watkins; Red Oaks from Steven Soderbergh, David Gordon Green, Greg Jacobs and Joe Gangemi; and children’s series Wishenpoof! from Angela Santomero and Out of the Blue Enterprises.

Day-and-date debate

The development will add fuel to the ongoing fiery debate raging between theatrical and digital distribution.

The issue took an interesting turn recently when a senior executive at the exhibition sector’s lobby group NATO said Sony’s recent theatrical and digital day-and-date release of The Interview was not a game-changer.

“The only game changed here was just how much Sony left on the table,” National Association Of Theatre Owners vice-president Patrick Corcoran wrote in a column for Box Office magazine titled The Imitation Game: The Interview’s Simultaneous Release Doesn’t Change Anything.

“In this simultaneous-release game, Sony is $30million in the hole and almost out of cards.”

“We haven’t heard any new digital dollar figures from Sony since Jan. 4, so it’s a little hard to estimate where it will end up, but I’m feeling generous. Say $50 million,” Corcoran wrote, referring to the $31m gross Sony Pictures claims the comedy took from its first 10 days on VOD and streaming sites.

“Given the chaotic nature of the ad-hoc release plan and Sony’s desperation to play the movie on any home-release platform that would take it, I’m going to assume, less generously, that Sony pockets 60% of that sum instead of the customary 70%.”

Corcoran went on to say that the studio would recoup approximately $33.5m - $30m from VOD revenue and the balance from theatrical – plus an estimated $10m from international markets.

The film reportedly carries a $44m production budget and an estimated $30m P&A spend. The Interview has amassed $5.9m from US theatres and will open on DVD and Blu-ray on February 17.