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Feature Film

Amazon Studios is Developing Its First Animated Feature, ‘Emily the Strange’

Amazon Studios is looking to enter the feature animation business, and they are eyeing the goth merchandising figure Emily the Strange as their first project.

A nonconformist teenage girl who loves cats, Emily was created by skateboarder Rob Reger. The character, which peaked in popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s, at one point had several retail stores devoted to her merchandise and clothing, as well as series of books and comics. In more recent times, Hollywood has attempted to inject a second life into the retail brand by bringing her to the bigscreen, but a live-action adaptation at Universal failed to move past development.

Now that the feature rights have reverted back to Dark Horse Entertainment, the comics publisher has set it up at Amazon Studios as an animated feature project. This new version “would keep the authenticity and edge of the property,” according to the Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the story. The project doesn’t yet have a writer, director, or star attached.

Regardless of what you think of Emily the Strange as a feature concept, the larger and more impactful piece of news is that Amazon, one of the ten largest companies in the United States by market cap, is looking to enter the feature animation market. This would follow Netflix’s entry into the field earlier this year when it acquired U.S. distribution rights to The Little Prince. There have since been persistent rumors that Netflix will produce its own original animated feature, too.

The cost of entry into feature animation for companies like Amazon and Netflix is remarkably lower today than a couple decades ago when corporations needed a vast financial outlay to acquire talent and build infrastructure. In the contemporary market, there are numerous studios already set up around the globe to produce high-end feature animation—and more coming into existence every year. It’s an ideal situation for deep-pocketed new media companies who want to try producing features at a manageable $30-40 million price point.

Here is one of the few examples of official Emily the Strange animation, a music video from 2013: