Canadian film and television producers face unfair competition from U.S. streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon – and it will only get worse, award-winning  film-maker Robert Lantos told BNN in an interview on Friday.

“Netflix right now… takes out somewhere between $500-$600-million a year from Canada,” says Lantos.  “Amazon is coming in any day. Between the two of them it will be a much larger number soon.”

Online retailer has launched a popular streaming media service in the U.S. For about $8 per month customers receive free expedited shipping on many items as well as access to thousands of hours of free movies and television.

The service is currently unavailable in Canada, but Amazon is expanding the streaming service internationally. On Friday, Amazon unofficially launched the service in Australia. Canada is not far behind, Lantos predicts.

The proliferation of those streaming services puts existing Canadian film and television producers and distributors at a disadvantage, Lantos said.  

The U.S. streaming services don’t have employees in Canada and “don’t have a footprint in Canada,” Lantos said.

“They don’t have any money invested in our economy and they have a huge advantage over their Canadian competitors,” he said. “Either everyone plays on the same basis or we might as well throw all the rules out the window.”

Lantos has produced more than 40 feature films including the Academy Award-nominated thriller Eastern Promises and The Sweet Hereafter. He was also co-founder of Alliance Communications Corp. which eventually became Alliance Atlantis – a Canadian film and television producer that launched Canadian television stations such as Showcase, History Television and HGTV.

The new digital media economy has benefited consumers who have instant access to a wide variety of content, but it’s made it more difficult for independent film producers to get noticed and made their work more susceptible to piracy, said Lantos.

“Any movie I make or anyone else makes within a day or two of its theatrical release is on the Internet for free,” he says. “And that has wreaked havoc with the economics – particularly of the independent film industry.”