MIPTV: Amazon Exec Roy Price Outlines Keys to Global Growth

Roy Price - H 2014
Jose Mandojana

Roy Price - H 2014

"We’re trying to replicate the Amazon Studios mentality from L.A. around the world," said the Amazon Studios vp.

Amazon has built up its streaming subscriptions through the unlikely combination of bundling with delivery and producing high-end global prestige programming. But Amazon Studios vp Roy Price sees growth in creating a global-local mix of programming as the company expands its operations in key production hubs in the future.

The company will also continue to support theatrical distribution for its film projects, he said Monday, speaking as a media mastermind keynote at MIPTV in Cannes.

Production studios in London, Tokyo and India are leading the charge for global production growth as the company aims to be “multi-local.”

“We’re trying to replicate the Amazon Studios mentality from L.A. around the world, growing teams in India, Tokyo and London as regional development hubs to lead an international originals effort,” said Price.

He continued: “I think you have a ‘base coat’ of international global shows like The Man in the High Castle, and you can have a global service, but at the end of the day, all customers are local. So you can pursue a multi-local strategy where you are seeking out the great artist in each territory.”

The Amazon exec cited last week’s German thriller You Are Wanted as its biggest opening of all time in that territory.

Japan also has been a big focus, with 20 shows currently running or in development there, and India is going to be a “very big effort over the next period of time.”

While Price wouldn’t disclose numbers or proportional budget information, he said the company is spending “plenty” on originals. It also is licensing and pursuing international co-productions. “When you are looking for the crème de la crème, some will be developed by other partners,” he said.

Globally, car extravaganza Grand Tour and alternative reality Nazi spy drama Man in the High Castle are the top two shows “in pretty much every territory,” asserted Price. “Those shows are bringing and keeping customers, and that’s a big focus,” he said, adding that the major metric of a show’s success is if it converts customers to subscriptions.

Though the exec wouldn’t confirm the rumored $250 million budget, the pricey Grand Tour from former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson justifies its cost by its ranking and conversion rate. “It’s well worth it, and it’s efficient and it’s great economics,” said Price.

Amazon has backed a number of critically acclaimed series that have resulted in a slew of awards, from Emmys to Golden Globes, for Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and Man in the High Castle.  

Critical praise reached a high-water mark earlier this year when its Manchester by the Sea and The Salesman each took home Oscars in February.

Price said the company’s dedication to theatrical distribution has helped attract A-list talent, including Manchester director Kenneth Lonergan, who long to see their work on the big screen: “We’re very supportive of the theatrical window, and I think that is what has helped us develop a strong lineup and attract filmmakers.”

The exec cited a slew of upcoming projects from such directors as Nicolas Winding Refn, Woody Allen, Richard Linklater and Todd Haynes.

Amazon will also continue to support its film initiatives, which have resulted in three Oscar wins so far, as there’s a prestige factor for films that have had theatrical distribution.

“Having been in theaters, I think there is a perception that it is a legit movie,” Price said. “It helps with customer perception.”

He also world-premiered the trailer for the new Jack Ryan drama series, based on the Tom Clancy character played on the big screen by Harrison Ford. The spy thriller, which stars John Krasinski as the titular analyst turned international spy, is from Lost’s Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes and is helmed by Oscar-nominated director Morton Tyldum.

"In this hypercompetitive world with thousands of shows you have to go for it big time,” he said of the company’s strategy to pursue film directors for series projects. “We tend to think of it differently and call it ‘filmavision.’ It’s TV, but it should strive to be bigger and better.”