Amazon is moving into Italian originals with a multigenre slate comprising “Bang Bang Baby,” a Milan-set mob drama with a young woman at its center, a comedy series centered around popular local star Carlo Verdone, and an unscripted food travelogue titled “Dinner Club.”
The streamer’s first forays into Italian scripted content were announced Thursday at a Prime Video Presents Italy event in Rome attended by Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke and international originals chief James Farrell, as well as Amazon’s director of European originals Georgia Brown, and the studio’s head of unscripted originals in Italy, Nicole Morganti.
They mark a significant first step for Amazon in Italy where Netflix has four original dramas in various stages, but also within continental Europe where Amazon’s level of production is now on a par with other continental European territories such as France and Germany
Amazon’s Italian slate reflects their multi-genre approach internationally.
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“The strategy is always the same,” Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke told Variety. “We don’t have any type of obligation of having a certain amount of scripted or unscripted – or movies for that matter – for Prime audiences,” she said. “It’s basically about whatever comes in the door that feels inspired and driven by a strong creative vision, and that we fee like our subscribers will love.”
This means that “we end up with a really diverse slate across a lot of different genres. And we like it that way,” she noted.
The standout show out of this initial batch is “Bang Bang Baby” which will be Amazon’s first Italian original and the one most likely to appeal to Amazon subscribers outside Italy.
Set in the late eighties and directed by Andrea Di Stefano – who broke out internationally with crime movies, Benicio del Toro-starrer “Escobar: Paradise Lost” and also “The Informant” – “Bang Bang Baby” will revolve around a shy, insecure teenage girl who becomes the youngest member of the Milanese mob “not for money, ambition or a desire for power, but to win the love of her father,” according to an Amazon synopsis.
The show, set to start shooting this year, is being produced for Amazon by Fremantle-owned The Apartment and Wildside, which is also a Fremantle unit. They are the shingles behind HBO’s “The New Pope” and “My Brilliant Friend.”
Producer Lorenzo Mieli said “Bang Bang Baby” will meld the crime genre and an all-female cast for a unique teen drama. In a statement Mieli also called it “an explosive coming-of-age story and a dark rock comedy, all merged with the pop-culture of the 80s.”
At the presentation Brown pointed out that Amazon, which has offices in Milan and Rome, has “lots of more exciting ideas in development with Italian producers, writers, directors and acting talent.” “There will be plenty more in the coming months as we continue our commitment to invest in production in Italy,” she said.
The other announced Amazon Italian originals besides “Bang Bang Baby” are:
— “Vita da Carlo” (Life as Carlo) featuring Italian comic actor and director Carlo Verdone whose films systematically score well at the Italian box office. This Rome-set comedy series will see Verdone star as a fictionalized version of himself alongside cameos from some of Italy’s biggest stars. Aurelio and Luigi De Laurentiis, who have a longstanding rapport with Verdone, with produce the 10-episode show via their Filmauro shingle with production set to start this year.
— “Dinner Club.” This unscripted cooking travelogue sees Italian chef and TV personality Carlo Cracco and six popular local actors and comedians travel around the world to Japan, Vietnam, France, Spain, Peru and Mexico to discover exotic cuisine. “Dinner Club” is produced by Banijay and will launch on Amazon Prime Video in 2020.
—“Ferro,” a doc about Tiziano Ferro, one of Italy’s most popular pop stars. Produced by Banijay and set for a June playdate.
Also in the Amazon pipeline is a previously announced adaptation of British format “Celebrity Hunted,” which is Amazon’s first unscripted show, produced by Endemol Shine Italy with Italian soccer star Francesco Totti, recording artist Fedez, YouTuber Luis Sal, actor Claudio Santamaria, journalist and writer Francesca Barra, anchorman Costantino della Gherardesca and actors Diana Del Bufalo and Cristiano Caccamo on board as hunters. A teaser/trailer was unveiled at the Rome presentation for the show in which celebrities must attempt to stay off the radar and remain at large for 14 days across Italy with limited financial resources. Hunting them down are some of the most renowned and feared Italian professional investigators, cyber analysts, online profilers and human trackers from law enforcement and military intelligence. Italy’s “Celebrity Hunted” will launch March 13 2020.