CEO Jeff Bezos wants Amazon to get its own 'Game of Thrones,' and has ordered a big TV strategy shift
This week, Amazon unexpectedly killed the second season of "Z: The Beginning of Everything," which had been previously greenlit, and which writers had been working to get ready for production.
The cancellation comes as part of a mandate from the leadership in Seattle.
"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 head Roy Price told Variety. "It's pretty evident that it takes big shows to move the needle."
Price pointed to Amazon Prime Video hits like "Man in the High Castle," and car series "The Grand Tour" (from the "Top Gear" team), as examples of what Amazon is looking for. He also mentioned "Game of Thrones."
"I do think 'Game of Thrones' is to TV as 'Jaws' and 'Star Wars' was to the movies of the 1970s," Price said. "It'll inspire a lot of people. Everybody wants a big hit and certainly that's the show of the moment in terms of being a model for a hit."
This isn't the first time Amazon Studios execs have talked about focusing on big shows. In April, Price said Amazon's "real focus is the crème de la crème … [the] actual shows people are talking about." And late last year, he said that "the real competition [in streaming TV] is not to be broadly accepted, but to be truly exceptional."
But it seems Price is getting pressure to move faster in that direction.
Sources told Variety that there is some internal frustration with Amazon's original TV output. Amazon has had critical darlings come out of its TV division, like Golden Globe winners "Transparent" and "Mozart in the Jungle." But for all the money it's spending on video, which JPMorgan estimated to be $4.5 billion in 2017, Amazon doesn't yet have a culture-dominating drama like "Game of Thrones."
It sounds like Jeff Bezos has noticed.
"We're very interested in getting those top shows - something that is broadly popular and admired," Price told Variety. "We want to allocate a lot of our attention and resources going forward to that kind of thing."