Amazon Studios, the production company that was recently set up by online retailer Amazon, has so far employed a quite unique approach to producing TV shows and movies. They openly publish information about which projects they’re considering on the site and allow visitors to give feedback on what they’d most like to see get made. In April 2013, they stepped up their plans for producing original TV shows by making 14 new pilots available to watch online, and inviting viewers to help decide which ones got commissioned for a full series.
The fates of the shows depended on a number of different variables. Though Amazon invited viewers to vote for their favorite show and review the ones that they watched, they were also looking at how many people watched the pilot episodes all the way to the end and how many times they were shared on social media – as well as organizing both online and offline focus groups to give feedback. One of the pilots that garnered a lot of interest before launch was Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese’s TV adaptation of their much-loved comedy-horror movie, Zombieland.
Unfortunately for anyone who was looking forward to watching the show, Reese has announced on Twitter that Amazon has decided not to commission Zombieland for a full series. A number of Zombieland fans had protested, even before the pilot aired, against the fact that the show would have the same characters as the movie, played by different actors. Reese was clearly upset by the outcome, and went on to imply that fan backlash was directly responsible for the show being cancelled:
“Sad for everyone involved … I’ll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence.”
While dissatisfaction from hardcore Zombieland fans no doubt factored into Amazon’s decision to cancel it, it’s unfair to say that this was the sole reason for Zombieland not getting commissioned for a full season. The pilot was – to be put it bluntly – just not very good, something that was widely reflected in the reviews. The criticisms levied at Reese and Wernick for choosing to have the show be about the characters from the movie proved to be valid as the pilot jumped right into the Columbus-Wichita romance subplot with some seriously clumsy exposition, and in general it felt like the actors were trying too hard to emulate the performances of Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin.
The Zombieland pilot also had some pretty stiff competition in what Amazon were quite open about promoting as a gladiatorial fight to full series commission. The show was up against Onion News Empire, a sharp and quick-firing comedy based on popular satirical news site The Onion, Alpha House, a political sitcom led by John Goodman, and edgy school-based sitcom Those Who Can’t, among several others. While Zombieland was far from the worst in show, it also wasn’t the best.
Let us know in the comments if you agree with Amazon’s decision, or if you’re saddened to hear that Zombieland won’t be continuing.