Jeff Bezos has made it clear: he wants the next Game of Thrones, and he wants it on Amazon.
An exclusive report in Variety details how plans are underway to develop new high-end drama series for Amazon Studios. Bezos wants new shows that not only resonate with American audiences, but have global appeal as well. “We’ve been looking at the data for some time, and as a team we’re increasingly focused on the impact of the biggest shows,” Amazon Studios chief Roy Price said. “It’s pretty evident that it takes big shows to move the needle.”
The change in focus for an Amazon hit series comes amid reports of the cancelation of Z: The Beginning of Everything, based on the romance between Zelda Sayre and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The show received mixed reviews and was not renewed for a second season.
Bezos wants brand-new new projects that “sizzle,” and to that end the studio has greenlit several new projects that it hopes will get people talking at the watercooler on Monday mornings. In January, Amazon hired Sharon Tal Yguado formerly of Fox International Channels, to lead development of new sci-fi and fantasy series.
Price mentioned several critically acclaimed Amazon series, including Man in the High Castle, The Grand Tour, and the new comedy The Tick, as examples of successes they could build on. But he’s still after the Big One – a high-impact series that sets Twitter ablaze and becomes a household name.
“I do think Game of Thrones is to TV as Jaws and Star Wars was to the movies of the 1970s,” Price said. “Everybody wants a big hit and certainly that’s the show of the moment in terms of being a model for a hit.”
“We’re a mass-market brand,” he added. “We have a lot of video customers and we need shows that move the needle at a high level.”
One new project is Tong Wars, a period crime drama directed by filmmaker Wong Kar-wai and written by Homicide creator Paul Attanasi that explores the gang conflicts in 19th century San Francisco. Another new series in the works is a Seth Rogen-produced comic book adaptation. Amazon is also expanding into sports programming, dropping $50 million to supplant Twitter this season for live-streaming broadcasts of NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.
Amazon Prime has always had a stellar lineup of series from other networks, but the new focus reflects a concentrated effort to make their own major impact in the expanding world of high-end (and sometimes very expensive) television dramas. Variety cites several industry sources who work with Amazon who make it clear that Bezos has put a lot of pressure on Price and his team to deliver.
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