Amazon Prime has greenlit three new Italian original series, further boosting its investment in the territory.
Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, head of international originals James Farrell, director of European Amazon Originals Georgia Brown and Nicole Morganti, head of unscripted original series in Italy, unveiled the Italian slate at the Hotel de la Ville in Rome on Thursday.
The new shows include the comedy series Vita da Carlo, featuring actor and director Carlo Verdone, who will star as a fictionalized version of himself. The series, billed as a sendup of Rome’s film and celebrity scene, will feature cameos from some of Italy’s biggest stars. Aurelio and Luigi De Laurentiis will produce through their Filmauro shingle, with production on the 10-episode first season set to start later this year.
Dinner Club, an unscripted cooking travelogue featuring Michelin-starred chef and Italian TV personality Carlo Cracco, will be produced by Banijay and launch on Amazon Prime in 2020. The show will see Cracco travel the world to Japan, Vietnam, France, Spain, Peru and Mexico accompanied by six famous Italian actors and comedians, discovering exotic cuisine and learning from the world’s best chefs, all in order to create a perfect dinner for guests appearing on the show.
Finally, Amazon has ordered feature documentary Ferro, on the life of Italian musician Tiziano Ferro (“Perdono”). The doc, also produced by Banijay, will feature never–before-seen footage of the musician while preparing and rehearsing for his new concert tour.
Francesco Lauber, chief creative officer at Banijay Italia, said Ferro would not be a “self-celebrating documentary,” but “an unfiltered personal portrait” that would provide “unseen and fascinating details of one of most beloved artists in Italy and around the world.” Ferro will drop on Amazon Prime later this year.
Amazon also announced that Arianna Becheroni will star in its first Italian original drama, Bang Bang Baby. The series, which had been previously announced, will see Becheroni play Alice, an insecure teenager growing up in Milan in the late ’80s who becomes the youngest member of the Mafia — not out of ambition or greed, but in order to win the love of her father. Created by Andrea Di Stefano and produced by Fremantle’s The Apartment and Wildside for Amazon Studios, Bang Bang Baby will start shooting in 2020.
Celebrity Hunted, Amazon’s first unscripted series, which had been previously announced, will launch on the service March 13. Produced by Endemol Shine Italy, the show will feature some of the country’s best-known VIPs, including soccer star Francesco Totti, Italian rapper Fedez, actors Claudio Santamaria and Costantino della Gherardesca, television journalist Francesca Barra and online influencer Luis Sal.
“Here in Italy we’re focused on making great original shows specifically for our local Prime members,” said Brown. “We know that viewers want to see unique, authentic and entertaining stories that they truly connect with, and we’re committed to producing the widest variety of quality Italian programming across drama, reality, comedy, lifestyle and music. There isn’t a genre or topic we aren’t considering right now. Production companies and creatives who are focused on making high-quality Italian shows that reflects the local audience will know that these shows can and will travel internationally.”
Amazon’s Italian push follows better-than-expected subscriber growth from competitor Netflix, which added 3.13 million viewers across Europe, the Middle East and Asia this past quarter. One of Netflix’s advantages in the international market has been its early focus on locally made programming. Amazon Prime is active in fewer international territories, but has ramped up its investment in originals in the U.K., Germany, Spain, India, Japan and Mexico.