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Woody Allen's 'Wonder Wheel' to complete Amazon's turn to full-service distribution

Woody Allen at the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award tribute to Diane Keaton on June 8, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Turner)
Woody Allen at the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award tribute to Diane Keaton on June 8, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Turner)

Thursday it was announced that Woody Allen’s latest film, “Wonder Wheel,” will have its world premiere as the closing-night film at this year’s New York Film Festival. The film stars Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple and James Belushi in a story set around Coney Island in the 1950s.

But that wasn’t the only Allen item of the day. Variety reported that “Wonder Wheel” will also be the first film fully distributed by Amazon when it opens in theaters on Dec. 1. The company has already made fast inroads to the movie business, winning Academy Awards this year for “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Salesman,” but has up to now worked with established distribution partners such as Roadside Attractions or Bleecker Street to help get those movies into theaters.

Amazon released Allen’s 2016 film, “Cafe Society,” starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Steve Carell, in partnership with Lionsgate. The online giant also released Allen’s six-part “Crisis in Six Scenes,” in which he starred alongside Elaine May and Miley Cyrus, late last year via the Amazon Prime Video streaming service.

The move by Amazon is yet another way the company is distinguishing itself in relation to streaming rival Netflix. Where Netflix has been seen as pulling back from theatrical distribution, opting for either extremely limited or no theatrical release at all of its titles to drive viewers to its own platform, this latest push by Amazon renews its commitment to traditional theatrical releases.

The New York Film Festival slot for “Wonder Wheel” gives Amazon the three marquee spots at the showcase. Previously announced, Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” will open the festival, and Todd Haynes' “Wonderstruck,” which premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival, will show in the centerpiece slot.

Other upcoming Amazon titles include Mike White’s “Brad’s Status,” starring Ben Stiller, and Luca Guadagnino’s remake of “Suspiria,” starring Dakota Johnson.

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