Amazon just upped the ante in the streaming television wars.
The e-commerce colossus announced this morning it has signed acclaimed—and controversial—writer and director Woody Allen to create an original series for its Prime Instant Video service. Details remain scant, but Amazon said in a statement that it has ordered a full season of the show, which will involve an undisclosed number of half-hour episodes. It will be available in the US, UK, and Germany.
“I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that [Amazon Studios boss] Roy Price will regret this,” Allen said in the press release.
Just this week, Amazon won a Golden Globe for Transparent, its original dramatic series about a transgender parent. The company has been investing heavily in television, commissioning original series and launching a new set top box last year. Its streaming service is included in Prime, the home delivery service that costs $99 a year in the US.
Allen’s decision to partner with Amazon continues a trend that has seen some of the highest profile creative talent in the film business working in television, and streaming television in particular. For example, Kevin Spacey and director David Fincher worked with Netflix on House of Cards.
But from Amazon’s perspective, it is also quite risky: Allen has been plagued by damning sexual abuse allegations involving his ex-wife’s daughter, Dylan Farrow. He continues to retain support from high profile figures in the acting community, such as Cate Blanchette, who won an Oscar last year for his film Blue Jasmine. But many others have shunned him.
Allen has previously written for television and created TV movies, but this will be the first show he has created for the small screen. Amazon is clearly betting that his reputation in film will lead people to check it out.