Amazon Studios is building upon its episodic series output by announcing today that it will begin to produce and acquire original live-action and animated movies for cinema release and early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video.

The company said Amazon Original Movies will focus on unique stories, voices, and characters from top and up-and-coming creators.

Amazon Studios launched in 2010 to develop feature films and episodic series – anyone can upload a script online and Amazon Studios will read and review all submissions. Those who choose to make their projects public can also receive feedback from the Amazon Studios community. Online development tools include Amazon Storybuilder and Amazon Storyteller

The company has already created television series such as Tumble Leaf (above)Transparent (on set image below) and Mozart in the Jungle, but this is a new, serious statement of intent regarding feature film production.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon producer Ted Hope is to lead the creative business as head of production. 

Ted co-founded and ran production company Good Machine, which also produced notable and Oscar-nominated films such as Eat Drink Man Woman. As well as BAFTA nominations, Ted has also won The Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival more often than any other producer at the festival with his films American Splendor, The Brothers McMullen, and What Happened Was...

“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," says Ted. "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.”

Whereas it typically takes 39 to 52 weeks for new releases to premiere on subscription video services, the company said Amazon Original Movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the USA just four to eight weeks after their theatrical debut. It's not known how this will translate to other territories.

“We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films” said Roy Price, Vice President, Amazon Studios. "Our goal is to create close to twelve movies a year with production starting later this year, 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 program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.”