Amazon Prime Video’s James Farrell looks to grow ‘Citadel’ franchise model


Amazon Prime Video’s international chief James Farrell is on the look-out for more international franchises that follow the model of the Russo brothers’ upcoming drama Citadel and outlined how former MGM exec Rola Bauer fits into the streamer’s global operations.

Farrell used a keynote at Series Mania to lay out how LA-based Amazon Studios interacts with his international operation, which spans 21 countries and looks for shows with budgets of between $1-$3m per episode.

James Farrell at Series Mania

“You want around one new launch every month,” he told a packed auditorium on the last day of the Lille-based event, adding that it meant each country would tend to commission around 12 shows across scripted and unscripted annually.

Amazon Studios’ LA operation takes on the high budget shows, which tend to be north of $70m such as Citadel, while Bauer’s role sees her working on projects that lie between that figure and the roughly $20m-per-show spend of Farrell’s international arm.

Farrell said the ambition is to ensure the US and international slates are “complementary”, with Citadel underscoring how US-born franchises can play into that strategy.

The high-profile show, which has a budget of around $160m, is from Anthony and Joe Russo’s US production outfit AGBO, but there are also Italian and Indian versions in the works.

Other country-specific shows are also in development and Farrell talked up the franchise model as “a cool way to take [customers] on a journey, which is something no one has really done before.”

Prime Video has already dipped several toes into the franchise experiment with spin-offs from its hit superhero series The Boys, while the Bosch universe has expanded on Amazon’s Freevee service with further shows planned. Farrell said further franchise moves were “highly likely”.

The US show follows Madden and Priyanka Chopra’s characters in a mysterious spy world, with the Indian and Italian spin-offs expanding that universe with local characters and shows shot in local languages.

The Prime Video exec also touched on the streamer commissioning contraction Stateside, adding that it was looking to be a “good corporate steward” during the cost-of-living crisis and the production squeeze.

There are wars and political situations so it’s tough – we want to be thoughtful about what we spend. That means if we can produce a movie with 20 locations instead of 30, or cut the number of episodes from eight to six, then we’ll do that. We want to be responsible.”

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