By Peter White
Who had Amazon supplying one of Netflix’s biggest original series on their 2022 bingo card?
The Jeff Bezos-owned company, after closing its $8.5B deal to buy MGM, is now responsible for Wednesday, which has quickly become its rival’s second biggest English-language series.
The Jenna Ortega-fronted show crossed the 1B hours viewed mark – only the third show to do that – in less than a month and overtook Dahmer to become the second most-watched U.S. show behind season four of Stranger Things.
A renewal is thought to be inevitable, although sources expect that will come in the new year rather than before the end of the year. Producers are starting to talk to writers about joining the second season’s writers’ room and mulling season two locations, and even though MGM has been restructured into Amazon Studios, under Jen Salke, no one expects that to derail future seasons. While there are things the two new partners will have to work out, insiders expect renewal talks to go pretty smoothly.
The unusual Wednesday situation is also a stark reminder that Amazon, through MGM, is now in business with many of its rivals.
MGM Television produces The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu, Last Light for NBCU’s Peacock, Fargo for FX as well as Vikings: Valhalla, which is also for Netflix, and development projects for networks and streamers including Starz and Paramount+. On the unscripted side, it makes The Voice for NBC, Shark Tank for ABC and Survivor for CBS as well as a swathe of reality series for cable networks.
“It’s a great signal to the community that [Amazon Studios] is serious about selling outside and contributing elsewhere,” said one source.
This will likely become even more prevalent as MGM moves into its next phase. It already has a project in the works with Apple – thriller series Raising Wild starring Cynthia Erivo and exec produced by Renée Zellweger.
Amazon is currently mining the MGM library for titles that it can remake and reboot, both in series and films with sources saying that this will come in the “not so distant future”.
This obviously includes James Bond. There’s a 007 reality competition series coming but as long as the company can strike a deal with Bond protectors Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, they will likely be keen for a scripted television series at some stage.
One would imagine that some of these MGM library remakes will also perhaps better suit other broadcasters rather than Amazon Prime Video or Freevee.
Wednesday, obviously, began life long before Amazon first circled MGM in 2021. Tim Burton and showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar took the project out to the market in October 2020 before Netflix officially ordered it in February 2021.
The show, which also stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzman, Isaac Ordonez, Gwendoline Christie, Riki Lindhome, Jamie McShane, Fred Armisen and Christina Ricci, is exec produced by Gough, Millar, Burton, Steve Stark, Andrew Mittman, Gail Berman, Kayla Alpert, Jonathan Glickman, Tommy Harper, Kevin Lafferty and Kevin Miserocchi.
“[Amazon], truthfully, is in business with everybody and is expected to continue to do that in multiple dimensions,” added one source.
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