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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Amazon Is Coming For Netflix’s Crown With ‘Coming 2 America’, ‘Borat’

As movie theaters around the globe remain closed and new releases pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, streaming is quickly becoming the new way to watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters. And that means competition between rival services is heating up.

While Netflix
has typically been home to big releases like The Irishman and Roma, to name but two, Amazon’s
most recent acquisitions suggest that Jeff Bezos’ company is looking to make its own mark in a big way.

On Tuesday, it was reported Amazon Studios has bought Coming 2 America, the sequel to the 1988 hit comedy starring Eddie Murphy, from Paramount
for $125 million. It is expected to stream from December 18 in time for the holidays.

Amazon has also snapped up the eagerly awaited Borat sequel starring Sacha Baron Cohen, which will stream worldwide on Amazon Prime from October 23. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is being released just in time for the U.S. election on November 3.

The big, starry one-two punch of Borat and Coming 2 America is a huge victory for Amazon and could make it the go-to destination for movie-going this holiday season. Coming 2 America was originally set for theatrical release in December and some promotion was already completed by Paramount, building consumer awareness of the film.

In streaming, Netflix has previously dominated the holidays with films including Bird Box in 2018 and a combination of Marriage Story, 6 Underground and The Two Popes last year.

Netflix has some big releases on the horizon in the months to come, including Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 on October 16 and David Fincher’s Mank and Ryan Murphy musical The Prom in December. Yet, none of these releases have the same benefit of building upon beloved existing intellectual property, nor the built-in fan bases, that come with Murphy’s Coming 2 America and Baron Cohen’s Borat, thus giving Amazon an edge.

In January, Amazon CEO Bezos said Amazon Prime had 150 million users across the world as of the fourth quarter of 2019. The number of those users who watch Prime Video can’t be discerned, however. Netflix reported 192.95 million users worldwide in its July earnings report.

Both streamers have seen significant growth in 2020 due to people being at home amid local lockdown conditions. In April, Netflix said it had doubled its first quarter expectations because of the coronavirus; it added 15.77 million users instead of a projected 7 million.

Fledgling streamers Disney+ and HBO Max will have big releases of their own for subscribers this winter, too. Warner Bros.’ remake of The Witches starring Anne Hathaway premieres on HBO Max on October 22 and Pixar’s latest animation, Soul, hits Disney+ on December 25.

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