Barry Jenkins, Nicolas Winding Refn, David O. Russell help Amazon catch up with Netflix

Amazon is rivalling Netflix with new projects, including a show from Barry Jenkins. — Reuters pic
Amazon is rivalling Netflix with new projects, including a show from Barry Jenkins. — Reuters pic

LOS ANGELES, March 30 — The US online retailer’s VOD platform is attracting an increasing number of big names from the movie world, ready to branch out into TV. After Woody Allen got the ball rolling last autumn, Barry Jenkins, Nicolas Winding Refn, David O. Russell and Yorgos Lanthimos will soon follow suit with projects for the Amazon platform.

Movie directors are increasingly being tempted into the world of TV series, in particular with projects for major streaming sites. And, many of the recently reported projects have made headlines for Amazon’s VOD service.

The latest to date comes from Barry Jenkins, who directed this year’s Oscar-winning movie Moonlight. The filmmaker is switching to series format with an adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad, with Brad Pitt on the production team. The series tells the story of a network of secret routes and safe houses in 18th-century America, used by African-American slaves to escape.

In fact, since Woody Allen brought Crisis in Six Scenes to Amazon Prime back in September, the service has announced one prestigious project after another. For example, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) is working on Too Old to Die Young, a cop show starring Miles Teller. David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) has signed up Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore to star in a series with an as-yet undisclosed plot. Greek filmmaker Yorghos Lanthimos is reteaming with Colin Farrell — who starred in his movie The Lobster — for a miniseries on the Iran-Contra affair.

David Fincher, Spike Lee and Gary Fukunaga for Netflix

Little by little, Amazon is catching up with its key rival Netflix, slowly levelling out the playing field. Since joining the VOD market, Netflix has largely hogged the limelight thanks to collaborations with the likes of Baz Luhrmann (The Get Down), Lana and Lilly Wachowski (Sense8) — the sisters behind global box-office hit The Matrix — and Judd Apatow (Love).

And Netflix won’t be stopping there. The service has once again signed up David Fincher, who previously worked on the platform’s hit show House of Cards. This time, the Seven director is prepping Mindhunter, a story of FBI agents and serial killers in 1979.

Spike Lee is to adapt his 1980s movie She’s Gotta Have It into a TV series and Brazilian director José Padilha, who previously worked on Narcos, is readying a series about corruption in Brazil. This summer, Cary Fukunaga, known for HBO show True Detective, will film Maniac, a dark comedy based on a Norwegian show format, starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone. — AFP-Relaxnews