Internet retailer Amazon.com Inc. is making its first foray into the big-screen movie business after buying an option to develop a film from Keith Donohue's fantasy novel "The Stolen Child."
Amazon said it would not co-finance the film, but it plans to meet with studios and potential partners who can put the tale, in which fairies steal a young boy and replace him with a changeling, on the silver screen. The book currently ranks No. 58 on Amazon's list of 100 bestsellers.
News of the option was first reported in the movie industry trade magazine Variety on Thursday.
"With our brand and our retail experience and customers around the world, we believe we can be an extremely valuable partner in the development, marketing and distribution of this film," Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said.
The deal comes on the heels of a recent agreement between Starbucks Corp. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. in which the coffee shop company marketed the film "Akeelah and the Bee" in its stores.
Although the partnership took Starbucks further into the entertainment arena -- the company already sells music CDs in stores and has deals for exclusive content with stars such as Bob Dylan and Alanis Morissette -- the film disappointed at the box office.
Donohue has already been featured on the Internet retailer's talk show "Amazon Fishbowl With Bill Maher." Seattle-based Amazon is adding entertainment content to its shopping site in hopes of luring customers and is beefing up its ability to sell digital content.
According to sources, Amazon has been talking with major music companies and Hollywood studios to offer a digital music service and a movie-download business on its site. Those efforts could help the e-tailer compete with iTunes, the Apple Computer Inc. music service, and sell downloadable versions of films that could be copied onto DVDs.
Positive reviews of "The Stolen Child" from customers, as well as the national media, fueled the decision to option the book's screen rights, Herdener said, adding that it was too early to speculate on how Amazon would market any film eventually made.