When Amazon entered the original series arena five years ago under Roy Price, the company put its own twist on the traditional development model with pilot seasons that featured the streaming service uploading its completed pilots onto Amazon Prime Video “for all customers to stream.” Viewer feedback traditionally has factored into Amazon’s pickup decisions. That might no longer be the case as the streaming service might no longer make some or all of its pilots available for public viewing.
Over the past year or so, Amazon Studios began a shift away from pilots toward straight-to-series orders for such shows as Goliath, Carnival Row, The Romanoffs, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Homecoming, The Dangerous Book for Boys, Tong Wars, Untitled Fred Armisen/Maya Rudolph comedy, the now-defunct David O. Russell drama and a Lord of the Rings series.
‘The reality of the marketplace is it’s competitive and often you just have to go to series,” former Amazon Studios head Price said in August. “We still have customer feedback, but will probably have fewer pilots for sure.” Price resigned last month over sexual harassment allegations.
Amazon has two active pilots at the moment: Upload, a single-camera comedy pilot from The Office creator Greg Daniels, and Making Friends, a multi-camera one from How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas along with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, marking the streamer’s first multi-cam pilot.
I hear there is discussion about not putting the pilots up on Prime Video, with a call on a series pickup made by Amazon executives the way other networks do it — based on testing and research. No final decision has been made, but I hear that ending Amazon’s traditional pilot season is a real possibility.
Amazon recently launched its fall pilot season featuring half-hours Love You More from creators Bridget Everett, Michael Patrick King, Bobcat Goldthwait and Carolyn Strauss; Sea Oak, based on a short story from creator George Saunders, starring Glenn Close, directed by Hiro Mura and executive produced by Jonathan Krauss and showrunner Evan Dunsky; and The Climb, created by Diarra Kilpatrick, directed by Chris Robinson with showrunner Christina Lee.
“Amazon customer feedback on pilots has helped make some of the most critically acclaimed and popular series to date, including multi-Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning series Transparent, multi-Golden Globe-winning series Mozart in the Jungle, and the most-streamed scripted Amazon Original Series ever by Prime members globally, The Man in the High Castle, winner of two Emmys,” Amazon said in the fall pilot season announcement.