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Credit: Mike Windle/Getty Images for AACTA

Amazon plots Last Days series, updates Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, more

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Jan 14, 2020, 7:34 PM EST (Updated)

Fantasy and science fiction will be a big part of Amazon’s plans for the coming year and beyond, with the streaming giant's studio heads serving up fresh news on brand-new projects, as well as updates to ones we already know about.

With SYFY WIRE in attendance, Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke revealed at today’s Television Critics Association press tour that a dark new science fiction series is in the works as part of an overall creative deal with Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen. 

Titled Last Days, the series is described by Amazon's official release as “a gripping sci-fi thriller” set in a future in which Earth is dying, AI is on the rise, and “the world’s governments have secretly created a controversial plan to selectively colonize Mars.” The show “will follow one woman’s journey to explore the truth about where she came from, at the risk of losing everything she knows.”

Via the release, Amazon said Last Days is already in development from Lammas Park and See-Saw Films, with McQueen adding that he’s “thrilled about this new venture and partnership with Amazon. The idea of having a partner that will support and facilitate risk and change is more than exciting.”

Turning its eyes toward the Shire, Amazon also offered a handful of updates on its hugely-anticipated, mega-budget series adaptation of Lord of The Rings, with Salke sharing onstage that development is “moving along” with “table reads happening in New Zealand” ahead of a production start slated to begin next month. 

Amazon co-head of TV Vernon Sanders also shared a bevy of fresh new names who’ll be rounding out the LOTR cast, including some you may not have heard of before: Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Morfydd Clark,and Australian actor Tom Budge. The new additions joined previously-reported cast members Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, and Robert Aramayo as Beldor, one of the series’ still-mysterious lead characters.

Sanders also shared the studio’s enthusiasm with development progress on The Wheel of Time, the series adaptation of author Robert Jordan’s iconic fantasy series. “We are well underway in production. We love what we’ve seen,” he said at the press tour, teasing that more information is on the way for when the show will arrive. “Big, world-building shows take time to craft. I have a quarter [of the year] I’m thinking [of the series] dropping, but will have news later in the year.”

Amazon also served up news of an intriguing new project that sounds like it may share at least a little creative inspiration with a certain special agent who likes his martinis shaken; not stirred: Citadel, a “truly global action-packed spy series,” according to Salke's press tour remarks, from the Russo brothers’ AGBO Films and starring Quantico’s Priyanka Chopra and Game of Thrones' Richard Madden.

Joe and Anthony Russo will serve as executive producers on Citadel, with Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg of production company Midnight Radio serving as writers and executive producers. The multi-faceted event series will be headlined, according to Amazon's press release, with the “mothership” United States edition starring Chopra and Madden, and will also feature a constellation of additional, local-language editions originating in Mexico, as well as previously-announced versions in Italy and India.

Finally, it sounds as though Amazon is delighted in its new role as the home of The Expanse, with Sanders telling TCA members the studio is “thrilled with the fourth season and quality of the work,” and that it’s been especially cool to snag new viewers as the show has made the transition from its original network spot at SYFY. “The thing that has thrilled us is how many new fans who have come in,” said Sanders, adding, “we’re just seeing episodes for Season 5.”


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