Amazon follows suit with second batch of original pilots

Just in time to preempt Netflix’s highly anticipated unveiling of its coveted original series House of Cards this month, Amazon today made 10 new original pilots available to watch for free via its Amazon Instant Video service in the U.S. and LOVEFiLM in the U.K.

The mega-company, as it did with its first wave of original programming in November 2013, will eventually single out a few of these new shows for full-season production — a decision that will be at least partially based upon viewer feedback.

Amazon enters new territory today with its release of two pilots in the one-hour drama format, Bosch and The After — until today, Amazon has stuck to the half-hour comedy or kids’ show formats for its original series. The other three adult-aimed shows are Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, and The Rebels.

The other five pilots are oriented toward preschoolers and, another first for Amazon, children ages 6 to 11 — they include: Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (the first pilot to be discovered through Amazon Studios’ open-door submission process), Hardboiled Eggheads, The Jo B. & G. Raff Show, Maker Shack Agency, and Wishenpoof!

Customers can watch any of the pilots for free with the Amazon Instant Video app on the Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Touch, Roku and hundreds of other connected devices, in addition to simple viewing via on any computer. Once Amazon Studios decides which shows it will proceed with for full-season development, the subsequent episodes of the chosen shows will be available only to paying Amazon Prime subscribers.

Amazon’s release of these new pilots comes not long after Netflix’s recent announcement of its taking-on of $400 million in debt for a bundle of new original programs (bringing the total to $900 million). The move positions Amazon as a direct competitor in the online original content realm.

Amazon Studios was launched in November 2010 — since then the studio has received more than 20,000 movie script and 6,000 series project submissions through its open door policy. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street was the first of these submissions chosen for production. Here’s a brief synopsis on some of the new pilots: 

  • Bosch — Based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling Harry Bosch series, this one-hour drama follows a relentless LAPD homicide detective as he pursues a killer while standing trial against accusations that he murdered a suspected serial killer in cold blood.
  • The After — Written and directed by Emmy-nominee Chris Carter (The X-Files), the second of Amazon’s first two forays into one-hour drama follows eight strangers who are thrown together by mysterious forces and must help each other survive in a violent world that defies explanation.
  • Transparent — Written and directed by Emmy-nominee and 2013 Sundance Best Director winner Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under), this darkly comedic half-hour comedy about an L.A. family with serious boundary issues explores sex, memory, gender and legacy — the past and future unravel when a dramatic admission causes everyone’s secrets to spill out.
  • Mozart in the Jungle — Written by Oscar-nominated writer/director Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom) and actor/musician Jason Schwartzman, this half-hour pilot based on a memoir by Blair Tindall is all about sex, drugs and classical music, and shows that what happens behind the curtains at the symphony can be just as captivating as what happens onstage.
  • The Rebels — This half-hour sports comedy follows a woman who is left as the sole owner of a pro-football team after her husband suddenly dies.

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