Amazon announced a suite of new projects, overall deals, and other news during its Television Critics Association 2020 Winter Press Tour executive session Tuesday afternoon in Pasadena, including the announcement of a first-look deal with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment.
Plan B is working on mystery drama “Outer Range,” which was created by playwright Brian Watkins. “Outer Range” will follow a Wyoming rancher’s battle to save his land and is executive produced by Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner.
Plan B Entertainment is also producing Barry Jenkins’ adaption of “The Underground Railroad” novel, which will premiere later this year.
Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke revealed that Priyanka Chopra and Richard Madden will star in Joe and Anthony Russo’s “Citadel,” a spy thriller miniseries that will focus on the double lives of its protagonists. A local language production of the series, which is also getting Italian and Indian versions, will take place in Mexico. Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg will write and executive produce the series.
Mike Larocca, the Russo brothers, and former ABC Studios chief Patrick Moran will executive produce the series. Moran has been working on “Citadel” since signing an overall deal with Amazon Studios in October 2019.
In addition, Amazon announced new deals with Gael García Bernal (“Mozart in the Jungle”) and Diego Luna (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”). The duo are currently executive producing an untitled “Cortés and Moctezuma” project from Amazon Studios and Amblin Television.
Amazon’s other TCA show announcements included greenlighting “Jack Reacher,” a drama based on Lee Child’s bestselling book series. Though cast details are under wraps, the series will be written by Nick Santora (“Prison Break”), who will also executive produce the series and serve as showrunner. The company has been developing the show for the last year and Season 1 will be based on “The Killing Floor,” the first novel in the series.
Prime Video is also getting an untitled single-camera comedy series from Tracy Oliver. The untitled project will star Meagan Good, Grace Byers, Jerrie Johnson, and Shoniqua Shandai. The first two episodes will be directed by Malcom D. Lee (“Girls Trip”). Pharrell Williams, Amy Poehler, Dave Becky, Kim Lessing, and Mimi Valdés will executive produce the project alongside Oliver, who also wrote the series. The half-hour series will follow the lives of four black women as they navigate sex, relationships, and chasing their dreams after their college days at NYU.
As for additional overall deals, Salke also announced a new pact with Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”). McQueen’s BBC series “Small Axe” will premiere on Prime Video later this year, while his upcoming “Last Days” sci-fi thriller will focus on a dying Earth, the rise of AI, and a secretive plan to colonize Mars, though Salke stressed the project would be unlike traditional dystopian stories.
Finally, casting details were also announced for the eight-episode “Lord of the Rings” series; Salke said the series would enter production in February.
Although Amazon’s executive session was packed with announcements, the company will still face fierce competition in the coming months when new streaming services, including WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock launch later this year.
The streaming market has become unprecedentedly crowded, but Salke stressed that Prime Video doesn’t aim for specific quotas and is unconcerned with matching its rival streamers by volume. Prime Video’s goal is to supplement the overall Amazon Prime service and avoid oversaturating the streamer with shows that “people don’t know are there,” according to Salke.
“We think in terms of global needle-movers, but we also pursue other shows,” Salke said during Amazon’s executive session at TCA. “Niche comedies, like ‘Fleabag,’ can grow into larger global things. We try not to categorize things too much.”