Amazon has set its sights on the movie theater market, with reports that it is among the bidders to purchase Landmark Theaters.
Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the situation, reported that Amazon is going up against other suitors to purchase the movie theater chain from Wagner/Cuban Cos. Sources told the publication that Wagner/Cuban Cos. has hired investment bank Stephens Inc. to help with a potential sale. A final decision hasn’t been made, and the report warned that deal talks could potentially break down.
For Amazon, entering the movie theater space would mark yet another new industry it is trying to disrupt, and comes as it has been picking up its investments in original content. If it acquires Landmark, the eCommerce giant would get a movie theater chain that is focused on independent and foreign films. Cinemark has 50 theaters in 27 markets, including in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“This is probably a move to get broader distribution of film content,” said Leo Kulp, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. “Netflix had been discussed as a potential buyer of Landmark for a similar reason.” Wagner and Cuban also jointly own Magnolia Pictures, the production company 2929 Productions and networks AXS TV and HDNet Movies.
Amazon has been beefing up its offering when it comes to movies and video content, as well as its streaming music offering. In late July, it rolled out a new feature for Alexa-enabled devices dubbed Alexa Cast, which enables users to control the music playing on the device from their smartphone. The Verge, citing Amazon, reported that the feature only currently works with the Amazon Music app, but could become more robust by enabling control of music playback, movies and more internet content on any Alexa-powered device. This may result in Alexa Cast emerging as a competitor to Google Cast.
According to the report, Alexa Cast works with any Alexa-powered device, including its Echo speakers and third-party devices. Following an update on July 26, an icon for Alexa Cast will show up on the Now Playing screen within the Amazon Music App on iOS and Android. The Verge noted that Amazon hasn’t disclosed its plans for Alexa Cast, which means it’s not clear if third-party apps will be added to the new feature.