Top Gear’s Clarkson, Hammond, and May are heading to Amazon Prime (Updated)
Updated 8/7/15: The budget for the show has been revealed. Amazon reportedly paid $250 million for three, 12-episode seasons. That equates to about $6.9 million per show. That’s a bit above the average, but not exceedingly so.
Game of Thrones costs around $8-$10 million per episode, so the price is reasonable on the market – especially given that Top Gear was watched by 350 million people.
What this really means is that the new show will have almost limitless funds to do whatever they want – at least compared to the BBC’s budget. If the trio could make Top Gear on a fraction of their new budget, imagine what they will be able to do now. Amazon also promised them creative control, so expect some big things.
Original article 7/30/15: After months of speculation punctuated by the occasional taunt from Jeremy Clarkson, the former Top Gear host and his professional BFFs, Richard Hammond and James May, have a new home. The trio are heading to Amazon Prime to create an original new show, and they will be joined by Top Gear producer Andy Wilman.
The news came via a Tweet from Clarkson.
I’m very excited to announce that Hammond, May and I have signed a deal with .@AmazonVideo
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) July 30, 2015
Amazon quickly followed it up with a confirmation, but beyond that there aren’t many details. Production is expected to begin later this year, with a planned debut of 2016, but the show doesn’t even have a name yet.
It’s also not clear exactly the format of the show, how many episodes there will be, how episodes will be released, etc., etc. That will come though, and for now fans of Clarkson’s Top Gear should be very excited.
Somewhat lost in the noise is that Top Gear producer Andy Wilman also left the BBC, and will produce the new show. Wilman and Clarkson came up with the concept and tone of the current Top Gear. They certainly aren’t the only reason the show was a success, far from it, but those two were the creative core. With them both heading to Amazon, fans can expect good things.
Hopefully, one day in the future we will hear the entire behind-the-scenes story about how Clarkson and company landed at Amazon.
After Clarkson was fired from Top Gear by the BBC, it wasn’t long before he was in heavy demand. Once Hammond and May declined to renew their contracts with the BBC, the trio ignited a fury of speculation on where they would land, and that speculation was likely accompanied by intense negotiations.
The trio seemed to have their pick of where to go. They are the faces of an international hit watched by 350 million people worldwide; that’s a lot of leverage.
There were a few caveats to any new show though. To begin with, if the hosts had landed at a traditional network that is supported by advertising, it would have potentially put them at odds with car makers that advertise – given that the trio tend to rip on cars they don’t like. Some networks may be willing to take the heat from the car makers and insulate the new show, but it was probably a factor.
Another issue is that the trio have a very specific non-compete clause that forbids them from appearing on a rival British network. There are ways around that, but it was a definite complication.
For both issues, an obvious possibility was to head to one of the burgeoning streaming networks that are subscription based and have an international platform. Netflix was rumored to be the likely destination, and given its recent success with original programming it seemed like a natural fit. Hulu and Amazon Prime were both mentioned, but most thought Netflix was a given.
The specifics of the deal weren’t revealed, so we don’t know how much Amazon paid. It was undoubtedly a shockingly huge amount to win what was probably something of an auction, but it will likely be worth it.
Amazon has been trying to bolster its original programming recently, and this is going to instantly raise its visibility worldwide.
The retailer-turned-streaming video platform has a growing slate of new programs, including two new seasons of the recently cancelled BBC show Ripper Street. It also has the high profile John Goodman comedy Alpha House, the detective drama Bosch, and more are coming, like The Man in the High Castle series that was greenlit after a test pilot became the most watched original pilot in Amazon’s history. Amazon seemed to be pushing that show as the face of Amazon’s original programming – that will change.
“I Feel like I’ve climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship,” Clarkson said.
Don’t be surprised to hear about Amazon Prime subscriptions suddenly skyrocketing as more info on the new show emerges.