Amazon Studios plans expansion of global TV universe worldbuilding with Citadel

Amazon Studio's head of international originals suggests being "responsible" about budgets while expanding global Citadel thrillers.

By Gabriella Geisinger 24 Mar 2023

Amazon Studios plans expansion of global TV universe worldbuilding with Citadel
James Farrell, Amazon Studios' head of International Originals. Cr: Amazon Studios

At the international TV festival in Lille, Amazon Studios' head of international originals James Farrell was asked about the challenges facing streamers and offered both cautions and expansion plans.

Farrell stated that the challenges around growing competition as well as placing profit over high spending to securing subscribers weren't impacting the number of shows or movies Amazon Studios is making. However, he added: "it does make us want to continue to be really good corporate stewards. The world is having a tough time - there’s wars, political situations are tough. That means you have got to be thoughtful about what you spend.

“If you can make this great movie with 20 locations instead of 30 to save a little bit of money, let’s do that. If we can reduce the episodes on the scripted show from eight to six and tell the story we wanted to tell to save some money, let’s do that. Let’s be responsible.” (Via our sister site Screen International.)

Farrell specifically cited expanding the Citadel universe (produced by Amazon Studios, the Russo brothers' Gozie AGBO, and Midnight Radio), called so after the series of the same name starring Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra. 

Farrell said there are “more versions and more countries coming” from the Russo brothers-exec produced tentpole to complement the Italian and Indian series." (Via our sister site Broadcast.)

He added: “At the local level, [the big global movies and shows] are not enough to have a great service in France, Japan or India. So, at the local level, we say, ‘Alright, what are the 10 to 12 things country by country that we want to make to supplement that global slate.”

According to Farrell, budgets for international shows are “in line maybe or slightly above what the typical productions are,” citing figures for $1-3 million per episode for dramas.

However, he also emphasised that Amazon’s local programming output is still in its infancy, and clarified that Amazon Studios would be open to being flexible on rights, hinting towards the streaming giant potentially only takin the first window on original shows.

“On a higher budgeted series, if the way to do that is to co-produce, we can share with other windows, split rights between countries and figure out how put the thing together and still get what we want and get people watching it,” Farrell said.

The streamer is still planning to commission 10-12 shows per month in the 21 countries outside of the United States of America, where it's international originals are produced. This equates to about one original a month in each country, with roughly four scripted TV shows, four films and four non-scripted programs.

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