November 13, 2004
Go to Amazon's home page and you'll see the introduction of "Amazon Theater." Click on the link and you'll watch Portrait, the first of five shorts to run for a week each leading up to Christmas. "Portrait" was directed by Jordan Scott, daughter of Ridley (Gladiator, Blade Runner) Scott.
This unfunny and mean-spirited but slickly executed comic fable, starring Minnie Driver, isn't of much interest for its merits. So why is Amazon wasting its bandwidth on short movies? The obvious reason is to drive traffic to the site at the all-important Christmas season. More interesting to me is the rampant product placement. Amazon Theater is sponsored by Chase. There are plenty of ways to buy the featured products featured in the movie on Amazon. My favorite? All the products appear on the closing credits, as if they were actors or key grips -- including more than ten Sephora products, a $300 Nokia camera phone, etc.
My friend, Mark Kohut, who also stumbled upon Portrait, notes there is a link at the bottom asking if you are a filmmaker and indicates that Amazon is working on a "major short-films iniative." Is Amazon going after iFilm?