Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has ordered a major TV strategy overhaul at Amazon Studios, according to Variety.
Over the past few days, two shows related to F. Scott Fitzgerald — “The Last Tycoon” and “Z: The Beginning of Everything” — abruptly got the ax. And Bezos reportedly wants the team to focus on getting a big-time drama hit like “Game of Thrones.”
While these cancellations might seem to come out of nowhere, there was actually a public sign earlier this year that Bezos personally disagreed with the execs running Amazon Studios. In a letter to shareholders in April, Bezos used an anecdote about the TV division to illustrate a point about a philosophy he called “disagree and commit.”
Here’s what Bezos wrote:
“We recently greenlit a particular Amazon Studios original. I told the team my view: debatable whether it would be interesting enough, complicated to produce, the business terms aren’t that good, and we have lots of other opportunities. They had a completely different opinion and wanted to go ahead. I wrote back right away with ‘I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made.’ Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.”
Bezos described the incident as a “genuine disagreement of opinion, a candid expression of my view, a chance for the team to weigh my view, and a quick, sincere commitment to go their way.” He ended that section of the letter by praising the team for bringing home “11 Emmys, 6 Golden Globes, and 3 Oscars,” and adding in a self-deprecating joke (“I’m just glad they let me in the room at all!”).
But now it seems Bezos might be taking a firmer stance, and perhaps is coming around to the position that maybe he was right all along.
Sources told Variety that there is some internal frustration with Amazon’s original TV output. While the tech giant has had success with the critics — with shows like Golden Globe winners “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle” — it has yet to land a must-see drama like “Game of Thrones.”
“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.”
And Bezos is watching.
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