Prime Video invests £1 billion in new UK Originals
Prime Video has invested more than £1 billion in TV, movies, and live sport since 2018, as it greenlights new UK Originals and confirms major casting news at a star-studded event.
The announcement was made at its UK showcase, Prime Video Presents, where Prime Video UK Head Chris Bird was joined at The Londoner Hotel by Amazon Studios’ Georgia Brown and Dan Grabiner and a host of acting, directing, and writing talent, including Louis Theroux, KSI, Jessica Raine, Peter Capaldi, Nikesh Patel, Katherine Ryan, Jez Butterworth, Naomi Alderman, and some of the stars and creator of U.S. Original series The Boys. A celebration of Prime Video’s investment in the UK slate, Prime Video Presents was hosted by radio and TV presenter Gemma Cairney.
Investment in UK entertainment
Prime Video UK has invested more than £1 billion in TV, movies, and live sport to date. This includes spend on UK Amazon Original series like Clarkson’s Farm; licensed series like Soho Theatre Live and investment in movies like Paddington 2; co-productions on flagship British series like A Very English Scandal; as well as investment in live sport.
“It was important to bring people together at Prime Video Presents to not only showcase our brilliant upcoming shows and movies, but to demonstrate how committed we are to the UK in the long term,” explained Chris Bird, MD Prime Video UK. “We’ve spent a long time building a service that offers customers a variety of ways to access the TV shows and movies they love–either included as part of their subscription, as an add-on channel or being able to rent or buy at a low price. We have invested more than £1 billion on TV series, movies, and live sport since 2018. But it’s just as important that we’re investing in the UK’s world-leading production and creative industries, with a growing number of UK Originals; through a £10 million commitment to training and skills schemes; and by taking a long-term lease at Shepperton Studios.”
Prime Video also announced the creation of a new fund designed to support British women's tennis. Prime Video will work with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to help girls and young women overcome barriers to play, with a focus on three key areas: coaching, equipment, and environment. The fund was generated from the broadcast share of last year’s US Open final. Further details will follow later in 2022.
“When we committed to reinvesting the fees generated from the US Open final, it was important for us to take the time to fully understand the existing barriers that girls and young women face when playing tennis. We need to ensure that we are helping to foster the right environment in which girls can feel empowered to play and learn the sport,” said Alex Green, MD Live Sport, Prime Video Europe. “Our work with the LTA has helped us take huge strides in this area and this fund will directly tackle these barriers later this year.”
Investment in new UK-produced Prime Video series
Prime Video’s investment in UK content continues with the announcement of new UK Originals, including Fifteen-Love, a scripted drama from leading UK producers World Productions (Vigil), part of ITV Studios. Created and written by Hania Elkington (The Innocents) Episodes One-Three of Fifteen-Love are directed by Eva Riley (Perfect 10), and Episodes Four-Six by Toby MacDonald (Extraordinary). It is produced by Natasha Romaniuk (The Suspect) and executive produced by Jake Lushington, World's head of drama, along with Elkington, Riley, and MacDonald. Fifteen-Love is an enthralling exploration of the dangerous lines where personal and professional relationships collide, set amid the glamorous cut-and-thrust world of elite tennis. The story examines themes of power, sex, and ambition, within an international sporting industry worth over $2 billion.
Prime Video unveiled a raft of UK Amazon Original series, including two new true-crime series. The first, The Disappearance of Patricia Hall (working title) from ITN Productions, is the chilling, real-life story of the disappearance of Patricia Hall from a small town in Yorkshire and the subsequent investigation in which her husband, Keith Hall, appeared to admit to her murder, before questions were raised about the reliability of his “confession.” The Disappearance of Patricia Hall (working title) is directed by Sam Hobkinson (Misha and the Wolves), produced by Vivienne Perry (The Changin' Times of Ike White), and executive producers Nathaniel Lippiett (Secrets of the Krays) and Ian Rumsey (Lost Boy: The Killing of James Bulger).
Three Mothers (working title) is a new three-part series from Scottish independent production company Firecrest Films. Set in the wild west days of the infancy of the internet, it tells the gripping real-life story of three women who all found themselves in the middle of an unbelievable series of events that captured the world’s attention. Director Alice McMahon-Major, producer Zehra Yas, and executive producers Nicole Kleeman and Vari Innes bring this powerful story, told through firsthand testimony, along with a wealth of extraordinary archive material spanning two continents and decades.
Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes sees the new England cricket captain discuss the highs and lows of his record-breaking career with Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes (1917) in a new UK Amazon Original documentary. Produced by Whisper, the film tells the story of Ben’s phenomenal career, examining his World Cup triumph and heroics at the Headingley crease, as well as the lows which saw him take time away from the game and came at a huge personal cost. The film’s crew captured Ben’s most personal and challenging moments, including the final visit to see his terminally ill father and his struggles with mental health. Ben explores this journey on-screen with cricket fanatic Mendes, who also executive produces the film. Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes will launch worldwide exclusively on Prime Video later this year, and the official trailer is also released today.
“We have supercharged Prime Video’s UK slate with a diverse range of high-quality, distinctive programmes across documentary, drama, comedy, entertainment, and film,” said Dan Grabiner, Head of UK Originals, Amazon Studios. “It’s such a thrill seeing the slate grow in partnership with some of the UK’s most talented creatives, from first-time creators to legends of British television.”
Casting news and first-look reveals
Academy Award- and BAFTA Award-winning actor and Arsenal fan Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) has been revealed as the narrator of All or Nothing: Arsenal. Lifelong fan Kaluuya will bring the club’s rich history to life and take viewers on the journey of Arsenal’s roller-coaster 2021/22 season, as they fight to return to European competition. As well as capturing the highs and lows of life at Emirates Stadium and the Arsenal Training Centre, the All or Nothing cameras will follow Arsenal’s squad away from the pitch to examine the daily challenges faced by elite athletes throughout a demanding calendar of high-pressure competition.
Ahead of the launch of Hartswood Films’ six-part thriller series The Devil’s Hour later this year, Prime Video revealed first-look images from the series, as well as a teaser featuring cast members Jessica Raine (Patrick Melrose), Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), and Nikesh Patel (Starstruck), all of whom also appeared at Prime Video Presents as part of The Devil’s Hour panel alongside writer Tom Moran and executive producer Sue Vertue. The series follows the story of Lucy, played by Raine, who is woken every night by terrifying visions at exactly 3.33am: the devil’s hour. Her 8-year-old son is withdrawn and emotionless. Her mother speaks to empty chairs. Her house is haunted by the echoes of a life that isn't her own. When Lucy's name is inexplicably connected to a string of brutal murders in the area, the answers that have evaded her all these years will finally come into focus. Capaldi plays a reclusive nomad, driven by a murderous obsession. He becomes the prime target of a police manhunt led by compassionate detective Ravi Dhillon, played by Patel.
Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem) took to the Prime Video Presents stage as part of a writers panel—alongside The Rig writer David Macpherson and author of The Power, Naomi Alderman—to discuss his forthcoming comedy-drama series, Mammals. Following the panel, in which a clip from Mammals was played, Prime Video released a first-look image of James Corden (The Late Late Show) in character as Jamie. Mammals also stars Sally Hawkins (Paddington), Melia Kreiling (Filthy Rich), Colin Morgan (Humans), Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Killing Eve), and Samuel Anderson (Witless). Directed by Stephanie Laing (Made for Love) and produced by Street Hassle in association with Vertigo Films and Fulwell 73, the series will launch exclusively on Prime Video later this year.
Today’s Prime Video Presents featured appearances from the cast and creatives of many forthcoming UK Original series, including Louis Theroux, who interviewed JJ Olatunji—better known as KSI—about their new untitled documentary; U.S. Original series The Boys creator Eric Kripke, along with actors Karl Urban, Jessie T. Usher, Chase Crawford, Karen Fukuhara, Tomer Capone, Nathan Mitchell, and Claudia Doumit; Jessica Raine, Peter Capaldi, Nikesh Patel, Tom Moran, and Sue Vertue for Hartswood Films’ six-part thriller series The Devil’s Hour; Backstage with Katherine Ryan’s Katherine Ryan, who was joined onstage by fellow comedians Seann Walsh, Darren Harriott and Michelle de Swarte; writers Jez Butterworth (Mammals), Naomi Alderman (The Power), and David Macpherson (The Rig), who took part in the writers panel; Your Christmas or Mine’s Daniel Mays and Cora Kirk, who joined a movies panel; and first-time TV producers Junior Okoli and Chas Appeti, who took the stage to discuss Jungle, their rap-drama series. The Rig, Wild Mercury’s six-part epic thriller series starring Martin Compston, Iain Glen, and Emily Hampshire, and Mammals, a six-part comedy-drama series written by Jez Butterworth and starring James Corden, also featured within the showcase, along with Lovestruck High, Prime Video’s latest unscripted reality series.
Within the executive session that opened Prime Video Presents, UK Prime Video MD Chris Bird outlined the distinct aspects of the Prime Video service in the UK, explaining that Prime Video encompasses a quality streaming service offering access to exclusive and Original series; access to home premieres and more through the “rent or buy” service; the ability to seamlessly add Prime Video Channels; plus ad-based streaming, offering customers a whole new tranche of engaging content, entirely free, with Amazon Freevee (formerly IMDb TV). Today’s announcements build on previous commitments from Prime Video in the UK, including the £10 million commitment in skills through its Prime Video Pathway programme, and its landmark deal with Pinewood Group to take production facilities at Shepperton Studios. These and other initiatives form part of Prime Video and Amazon Studios’ strategy of expanding its investment into UK-produced content, whilst ensuring a diverse talent pipeline is developed and sustained for long-term industry need.