Industry News

Amazon ‘Cancels’ Clarence Thomas Doc, Sparks DVD Sales (UPDATED)

The mega platform stopped streaming 'Created Equal' without warning, reason

“Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” disappeared from Amazon’s streaming shelves mere days into Black History Month.

The 2020 documentary let the reserved legal mind narrate his own life story, a tale taking him from an impoverished childhood in the segregated South to decades on the Supreme Court.

The Manifold Productions‘ film appeared on PBS stations last year before becoming available on Amazon for rental last October.

Trailer 1 -- Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words

Producer Gina Cappo Pack says “Created Equal” left the Amazon streaming platform on Feb. 8, but she learned about its disappearance by accident while surfing the company’s web site.

“Created Equal” writer/director Michael Pack says his company reached out to the film’s distributor for answers, but so far the distributor has heard nothing back from Amazon about the title’s removal. 

The film clearly met Amazon’s content approval in October, he says. What changed since then?

“Amazon is a mystery to me,” says Michael Pack, who calls the conservative Thomas “the most important black man in America.”

A Conversation with the Justice Clarence Thomas

The duo behind the film is unaware of any time limitation on Amazon’s deal with their distributor. Even if one existed, though, it’s highly unlikely it would be a four-month window.

“The distributor was surprised, shocked” at the film’s removal, Gina Cappo Pack adds.

The DVD version of the film is still technically for sale on Amazon but is currently “unavailable.” That could be because the title’s sales shot up dramatically since Breitbart News revealed the film suddenly left Amazon’s VOD platform. DVD sales for “Created Equal” skyrocketed 24,962 percent in the past 24 hours (as of 6 p.m. EST), moving from 6,015 place to 24th on the site.

Michael Pack notes similar documentaries are readily available for streaming on Amazon, like “RBG,” the celebrated film recalling Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Our documentary premiered on PBS. It’s not fringe or whatever you might want to say about it,” Michael Pack says. “It’s not our contention that these films shouldn’t be available. The whole idea of Amazon is to make everything available and give people a choice.”

It’s not the first time Amazon blocked a right-leaning documentary featuring black conservatives. Last year the makers of “What Killed Michael Brown?” approached Amazon about carrying the movie on its VOD platform.

The company ruled against including the film on its service, citing its poor quality for the decision. That decision, Amazon said, was final.

WHAT KILLED MICHAEL BROWN | Official HD Trailer (2020) | DOCUMENTARY | Film Threat Trailers

“What Killed Michael Brown?” is a polished, professional documentary featuring celebrated author Shelby Steele. The move sparked a series of media stories on the decision, and Amazon eventually included the film on its content roster.

More recently, Amazon yanked the book “When Harry Became Sally” off its cyber shelves, dubbing the tome’s material “hate speech.” The nonfiction title takes a critical look at the current trans movement.

Michael Pack hopes Amazon changes its decision on “Created Equal.”

“It shouldn’t take this kind of pressure every single time to make Amazon reverse a decision,” he says. “It has a chilling effect on documentaries and public discourse.”

Need more? When you type the following phrase into Amazon’s search engine:

created equal clarence thomas in his own words dvd

The “Created Equal” DVD isn’t featured right away. You have to scroll down the page to find it.

What IS featured at the very top of the site? Multiple items tied to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

UPDATE: Pack told HiT on March 9 that Amazon has yet to explain its decision to remove “Created Equal,” and the title cannot be streamed at the site. The DVD version remains unavailable / out of stock.

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