Bezos Tasks Amazon Studios to Make Hit With Global Appeal

Amazon Studios has shifted strategy. Reportedly, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has mandated Studio chief Roy Price with finding a hit as big and buzzy as “Game of Thrones.” With that focus in mind, Amazon Studios nixed a second season for “Z: The Beginning of Everything” and greenlit five new projects, including “Tong Wars,” a period drama from Paul Attanasio and Wong Kar-wai; a comedy starring Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph; two comedy pilots; and a comic book adaptation produced by Seth Rogen.

Variety reports that Price said the goal is to find shows that can help grow “Amazon Video’s reach and Amazon Prime subscribers.” The new path, he says, “has been informed by the wealth of data available to Amazon and is the consensus of senior management, including Bezos.”

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“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,” he said. “It’s pretty evident that it takes big shows to move the needle.” As examples of shows with global appeal, Price points to “Man in the High Castle,” the unscripted “Grand Tour,” and the new comedy “The Tick.”

“Game of Thrones,” says Price is “to TV as ‘Jaws’ and ‘Star Wars’ was to the movies of the 1970s,” and he also pointed to AMC’s “Preacher” and Starz’s “American Gods” as shows that are popular in “multiple markets outside the U.S.”

“The biggest shows make the biggest difference around the world,” he added. “If you have one of the top five or 10 shows in the marketplace, it means your show is more valuable because it drives conversations and it drive subscriptions.”

Amazon also hired former Fox Internernational Channels executive Sharon Tal Yguado to head up “a new event series development unit focused specifically on sci-fi, fantasy and genre series.” Price says announcements in the coming weeks will “make the company’s priorities very clear to the creative community.”

Amazon’s recalibration of its strategy is due, say sources, to “some frustration with the fruits of its foray into original TV content during the past few years.” Since its first splash with “Transparent” in 2014, Amazon “hasn’t had much traction in pop culture with many other original series,” and has “been eclipsed this season by its smaller rival Hulu,” which released “The Handmaid’s Tale.”