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November 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Online retailer Amazon, which got its feet wet in the movie business by acquiring the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) in 1998, is taking another step in melding interactive technology with show business. On Tuesday it announced a new business called Amazon Studios that will accept scripts and even full-length “test” movies from unknowns throughout 2011 at and submit the most promising ones to a panel of industry experts to be judged for their commercial worth. The panel includes screenwriter Jack Epps Jr. (Top Gun), writing chairman of the USC School of Cinematic Arts; producer Michael Taylor (Bottle Rocket), production chairman of the USC School of Cinematic Arts; producer Mark Gill, the former president of Miramax; and screenwriter Mike Werb (Lara Croft, Tomb Raider). The scripts can also be viewed online by the public, which is encouraged to comment on them. Warner Bros. has a first-look deal to buy the winning entries, but Amazon promises to submit the winners to other studios if Warners turns them down — and receive an undisclosed piece of the action if any of the movies are actually produced. In addition, the winners will receive cash prizes. Two scriptwriters a month will receive $20,000; one test movie, $100,000. If their submission is produced, they’ll each receive $200,000; if it earns $60 million domestically, they’ll receive twice that amount. The first winners are due to be announced in February.