Amazon Unveils First French Originals Slate

Jennifer Salke - Cocktails and Conversation with Head of Amazon Studios - getty-h 2019
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The streamer will bring the global dating juggernaut 'Love Island' to France and sets 'The Missing One,' starring former NBA player Tony Parker.

A hit in the U.K., ITV's dating show Love Island will get a French remake on Amazon Prime Video, as part of Amazon's first French slate of programming.

The streamer announced four shows — two scripted and two unscripted — rolling out over the next two years. The French version of Love Island will be shot and edited daily, with a strong interactive component and its own app. It will be available next year. ITV's French arm will produce it as well.

The Missing One, a French original with an English title, will take celebrities, including former NBA star Tony Parker, to Australia where teams will have to find a lost member somewhere on the continent for a charity prize. The show comes form Federation Entertainment's reality arm WeMake.

European director of originals Georgia Brown also announced two sweeping dramas. The Cold War spy thriller Operations Totems will feature intrigue around the globe — from Paris to Prague, Moscow and Vienna — and a love story between two enemy agents in 1964. The show is scripted by White Zone's Juliette Soubrier and The Bureau's Olivier Dujols, who will also act as showrunner.

Voltaire, Mixte will also explore the turbulent 1960s time period from a domestic perspective of a single-sex high school going co-ed. Borgia writer Marie Roussin will script and serve as showrunner on the series.

Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke said the company is looking to replicate its "highly curated" programming success in the U.S. abroad with the same approach internationally.

“Especially outside of the U.S. [subscriber] numbers are growing exponentially,” she said, citing its shows as a growth driver for delivery subscriptions with a high conversion rate, though she declined to give a specific number. She said the business is no longer just an add-on for those who pay for Prime delivery.

“That's a big shift. It's no longer that we are sort of a side car to entertain subscribers. We are driving Prime subscriptions ourselves. We have a real business model and plan that we are held to. There is a very high bar on how these shows perform and resonate,” she said.

Salke explained Amazon is not in the volume business, and will continue with that model as they seek to expand internationally while making local programming for various markets and languages.

International has the biggest room for growth right now, she added. “There's nothing so important. That's where all the opportunity is. The U.S. has a ton of Prime subscribers — it's been available in the U.S. for a long time — so we're at a place where investing in our international strategy is critical,” she said.

Outside of France, Salke said India and Japan are the most exciting markets for growth and that she will be working with the team in Brazil.

She emphasized that shows are not driven by data but instead rely on storytelling and decisions will be made instinctively even if a show is not performing as they hoped. Shows will be given time to build an audience. “There's a long tail on these shows, so to end something after a season after finding it's tracking a little more slowly than a big show like Jack Ryan is something we shouldn't be doing.”