Amazon Studios unveils first four original content series for development

magic monkey billionaire

In May, Amazon opened up the floor to filmmakers who could pitch their ideas to Amazon Studio, Amazon’s foray into the business of original TV content. The studio, after a call for comedies and children’s programming, has announced the selection of its first four series – three comedies and one children’s show.

Amazon, with heated competition from the likes of Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix, is ramping up its original television programming with budgets rivaling those of terrestrial television. Amazon is planning on investing a serious amount of capital in these crowd-sourced scripts.

According to its F.A.Q., the type of content Amazon is looking for must have the potential to attract talented actors and experienced directors: “We’re looking for great stories well told. Stories that could be successful movies — artistically, commercially or both. They should have roles that could attract talented actors, and enough story appeal and visual possibilities to entice an experienced director.” With big-name A-listers including Julia Stiles, Ben Stiller and Kristen Bell finding a second home in various to-be-released Web series, Amazon has already been able to reel in some stars.

Those ideas that capture the interest of Amazon get pooled into its “Development Slate,” where the project’s creators are awarded $10,000 for further development. Amazon’s own story department may help in developing the script and refining the concept, and will garner feedback from audience, but projects in the Development Slate are not guaranteed to be developed into pilot shows.

If a series is selected for production, Amazon will then offer to purchase the rights. Series creators get $55,000 and movie creators get $200,000, with up to a 5 percent cut from the merchandise sales. The series will be distributed on Amazon Instant.

Amazon Studios TV series pitch process

Projects that have potential but require further conceptualization and a rewrite are added to the “Consider List.” The lists will be updated on a regular basis as Amazon takes up to 45 days to review a script.

The following are the first four shows that have been selected for the “Development Slate.” Let us know what you think about these shows. Would you watch them?

Comedy shows:

The 100 Deaths of Mort Grimley 

Creator: Angel Castillo

Premise: In this animated comedy, Hell desperately needs new customers. Mort Grimley, new to the Underworld after accidentally taking his own life, is offered a deal: Get Hell’s numbers up and maybe get a transfer out (and up), or face eternity in fire and brimstone alongside the cruel mother he tried to escape.

Why we like it: Angel has created a world and characters that are imaginative, visual, hilarious and different than anything that’s out there. It’s dark subject material, but handled with a deft and smart comedic hand.

Doomsday

Creator: Nathan Thomas

Premise: This mockumentary follows an ensemble of diverse characters as they ready themselves for the supposed end of the world — including the guru who made the doomsday prediction.

Why we like it: Nathan’s script is a smart, laugh-out-loud comedy with interesting and compelling characters that you want to follow anywhere, especially as they prepare for what may be their final days.

Magic Monkey Billionaire

Creator: Diana Wright

Premise: When their wealthy magician owner suddenly dies, his two animal assistants — Rabbit and Monkey — are shocked to learn that Monkey alone has been left his billions, soon unleashing the ultimate forces of good and evil as former friends turn to arch enemies.

Why we like it: The premise of this script and the origin story of Rabbit and Monkey is great and, in the vein of Spy vs. Spy and Itchy & Scratchy, paves the way for an animated comedic series with an epic showdown between two iconic characters.

Children’s show:

Buck Plaidsheep

Creators: Frank Suarez (artist) and Clark Stubbs (writer)

Premise: Buck Plaidsheep chronicles the adventures of a courageous little critter named Buck. Whenever there’s a problem on Fleecy Farm, Buck races full-speed into action in one of his souped-up vehicles. And although things may not always go as planned, it’s Buck’s “never give up” attitude that makes him the sheep that always saves the day!

Why we like it: This show features memorable characters (like a plaid sheep and a paisley sheep), strong narrative threads and adventures, and good qualities for young children to emulate, such as perseverance and helping others.

Product Review

Simple and reliable, Apple's AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds

Apple’s AirPods wireless headphones have dominated the market essentially since they hit stores in December 2016. Though not without some faults, they cracked the connectivity code to rank among the best fully wireless earbuds you can…
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.
Home Theater

There isn’t a single good reason to buy Apple’s new AirPods

After nearly a three-year wait, Apple has finally announced a new version of its popular true wireless headphones, the AirPods. We had high hopes for vast improvements, but that's not what we got.
Home Theater

ESPN Plus scores the exclusive rights to UFC Pay-Per-View events

If MMA is your game, then ESPN Plus is now a very important player. The Disney-owned service locked up the exclusive rights to UFC Pay-Per-View events, a deal that will last through 2025 in the United States.
Home Theater

Dish TV customers can access up to 13 NCAA March Madness games in 4K

If you're a basketball fan looking to get your fix of NCAA Championship action in 4K, Dish TV will be airing up to 13 of the tournament games in the ultra high-def format, starting on Tuesday.
Home Theater

Cheer for your favorite NCAA team and Xfinity will respond with matching lights

Screaming at your favorite team just became a lot more rewarding thanks to Comcast's Xfinity voice remote and some special NCAA commands that set your smart lightbulbs to your favorite team's colors.
Deals

Amazon slashes prices on UE Boom and MegaBoom 3 Bluetooth speakers

With just the right combination of great sound, a rugged design, and an overall sleek aesthetic, the UE MegaBoom 3 is our favorite Bluetooth speaker. And Amazon is offering a rare discount on it right now.
Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 is coming! Here’s everything we know so far

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season, premiering in July 2019.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on HBO and what’s leaving in April 2019

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. April 2019 brings Game of Thrones season 8, BlacKkKlansman, and Crazy Rich Asians to HBO.
Home Theater

Tipping point? Streaming subscribers outnumbered cable in 2018 for first time

2018 was a very good year for the entertainment business as a whole, but it was especially good for streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon, says a new report by the Motion Picture Association of America.