“Amazon CEO Orders Budget Review as Priyanka Chopra’s ‘Citadel’ Faces Financial Setback”

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Amazon Prime Video’s highly anticipated original series, “Citadel,” featuring Priyanka Chopra and Richard Madden, has faced criticism for its financial underperformance. With an estimated budget of $250 million (approximately Rs 2000 crore), the show failed to resonate with audiences and did not make it to the top ten most-watched streaming programs in the United States, according to media company Neilsen. As a result, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has called for a budget study to examine the “liberal spending” on “Citadel” and several other shows that have failed to generate profits over the past nine months.

Bloomberg reports that “people familiar with the matter” disclosed that six major shows, including “Citadel,” did not meet expectations in terms of viewership and financial returns. Amazon reportedly spent $7 billion on original shows, licensed programs, and sports, a notable increase from the previous year’s $5 billion investment.

Despite the show’s disappointing performance, “Citadel” has already been renewed for a second season, and local adaptations are planned in Italy and India. While Amazon touted the series’ international success, no specific viewership data was provided.

Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, approached the Russo Brothers to develop “Citadel.” The creative partners of their production company, AGBO, along with screenwriter Josh Appelbaum and TV writer Bryan Oh, were working on an espionage thriller centered around “dueling spy rings” – one good and one evil. Initially budgeted at $20 million per episode, production costs escalated due to the pandemic and the Russo Brothers’ creative adjustments.

According to the Bloomberg report, the Russo Brothers wanted to remove the love story between characters played by Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, as well as make other changes to the plot. During post-production, the Russos experimented with a different version of the show, establishing a second editing team in Los Angeles, which differed from the primary post-production office in London. The revised version was sent to Amazon without being shown to the entire crew, prompting the London team to hastily submit their own edit of the series to Amazon.

The company ultimately sided with the Russo Brothers’ vision and enlisted writer David Weil to rewrite the script. This decision led to over half of the series needing to be reshot, resulting in an additional $80 million being added to the budget.

Rumors have surfaced that Joe Russo will helm the second season of “Citadel” and will be paid a staggering $25 million per episode.

This news arrives alongside reports of major layoffs within Amazon. Other high-budget shows that failed to make Neilsen’s list of top-watched programs include “Daisy Jones & the Six,” “The Power,” “Dead Ringers,” and “The Peripheral,” all of which cost over $100 million to produce. Even the highly anticipated “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” with a budget exceeding $400 million, did not receive the response it deserved, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As Amazon evaluates its investment strategy and production decisions, it faces the challenge of striking a balance between creative vision and financial success in an increasingly competitive streaming landscape.

Sources By Agencies

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