Amazon Axes Zelda Fitzgerald Series Months After Surprise Renewal (Exclusive)

Z: The Beginning of Everything - Still 1 -H 2017
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Amazon is reversing course on Z: The Beginning of Everything.

The retail giant and streaming service has opted to cancel the previously renewed Zelda Fitzgerald period drama starring Christina Ricci.

The writers room had been busy prepping scripts for season two and the show was already in preproduction, with sources noting about $7 million has already been spent on the now-scrapped season. The move to reverse course comes as Amazon is said to be reducing its spending on originals heading into 2018, sources say. 

The decision to cut their losses on Z comes five months after Amazon Studios gave a surprising season-two pickup to the show from Christine Vachon. When THR exclusively broke news about the renewal, sources at the time said the show appeared sure to be canceled. The series has a weak 61 score on Metacritic. (Amazon, like Netflix and Hulu, does not release viewership information.)

The original season-two renewal came in the wake of a Vox study that claimed Amazon Studios' development process had a "sexist loophole" that favored straight-to-series shows created by men and criticism over Amazon's December decision to cancel female-fronted period drama Good Girls Revolt less than two months after its debut. Good Girls Revolt — which has a slightly better Metacritic score of 65 — significantly outrated Z: The Beginning of Everything when factoring in Amazon's user scores at the time. Good Girls Revolt (which bowed Oct. 28) has an 8.2 rating with more than 27,400 votes, while Z: The Beginning of Everything (Jan. 27) registers a 7.3 rating and 14,740 votes. (Amazon, like Netflix and Hulu, does not release viewership information.)
"We heard a good pitch for season two, and based on that, we renewed the show. Anything else is speculation," an Amazon Studios spokesperson said in a statement to THR.

Z: The Beginning of Everything was based on Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler and followed Zelda (Ricci) through her marriage to author F. Scott Fitzgerald (David Hoflin). David Strathairn co-starred. The series was created by Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin, who also exec produced alongside Pamela Koffler, Vachon and Ricci. Vachon, meanwhile, has an overall deal with Amazon Studios.

Z: The Beginning of Everything is the first show Amazon has renewed before opting to reverse course. It joins other shows canceled after one season at Amazon, including Mad Dogs, Good Girls Revolt, Betas and likely Woody Allen's Crisis in Six Scenes.

Next up for Amazon is fellow period drama The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as well as additional seasons of Fleabag, Goliath, Man in the High Castle and Patriot, among others.