On Thursday, Amazon issued a press release announcing that its site will play host to the Amazon Theater/Tribeca Film Festival Short-Film Competition. The contest is a collaboration with Tribeca Film Festival founders, including actor Robert De Niro, and founding partner American Express
Amazon plans to accept short film submissions from contest contestants until April 13. Customers will get a chance to view and judge the entries on the site, and the five films with the highest customer ratings will be screened at Tribeca Cinemas in New York. What's more, the most popular flick among Amazon customers will receive a $50,000 grant in the form of a prepaid American Express Card.
The Web retailer's latest broadband initiative is a major improvement on its holiday short film series. That marketing effort featured high-profile stars, but offered viewers a mostly passive experience. This time around Amazon is leveraging the reach of the Web to tap into the creative juices of aspiring but unknown film makers. At the same time, the firm is bringing customers into the experience by letting them choose the winners. The contest's prospects for attracting a range of potential shoppers, from film buffs to the mildly curious, seem pretty promising. Best of all, the project is probably pretty low-cost for Amazon to run.
Of course, there is no guarantee that Amazon's film contest will be a hit. After all, heavily promoted online video offerings have flopped in the past. But it's clear that Amazon and companies such as Yahoo!
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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.