Coronavirus prompts Amazon to debut SXSW Film Festival virtually

Move comes as Amazon battles competitors like Netflix and Disney+

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South by Southwest has a workaround to debut films during the coronavirus shutdown.

The SXSW Film Festival, which was set to kick off in Austin, Texas, in March, was canceled due to complications surrounding the pandemic. But organizers of the annual event have teamed up with Amazon to debut the content there instead — and it will be at no cost.

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A total of 39 shorts, features and episodic programs are open to stream via Amazon Prime Monday through May 6 will for any user who wants to watch, SXSW said.

SXSW CANCELLATION OVER CORONAVIRUS WILL COST AUSTIN'S ECONOMY

“SXSW has always championed creators forging their own paths to success, often with just the right mix of passion, vision and radical experimentation to make their dreams happen,” Janet Pierson, SXSW director of film, wrote in a statement. “There is no one-size-fits-all, especially in these uncertain times, and we knew this opportunity would be of interest to those filmmakers who wanted to be in front of a large audience now.”

Some notable films that will debut include the Matt Riddlehoover-directed “My Darling Vivian,” about Johnny Cash’s first wife and the mother of his four daughters.

Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in the statement her group understands “every film has its own strategy and we know this opportunity may not make sense for every filmmaker. However, for those who want to share their stories right now and with as many people as possible, we’re excited to provide them this platform.”

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Since March, the New York Post reported, nearly all of the United States’ 40,000 screens have gone dark. Blockbusters like Marvel’s “Black Widow,” Universal Pictures’ “Fast & Furious 9” and the latest James Bond flick, “No Time to Die,” have all been postponed.

Streaming, however, has been up as people across the country are staying home. The number of minutes the average person spent streaming TV and movies jumped 36 percent, from 115 minutes to 156 minutes weekly, according to Nielsen ratings last month.

The move comes as Amazon battles competitors like Netflix and Disney+.

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