By Yohana Desta. Photos: Getty Images.
Barry Jenkins is heading to Amazon. The Oscar-winning director has announced that his upcoming project, a limited-series adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, will be developed by the streaming platform. This decision comes shortly after Amazon revealed that Moonlight, Jenkins‘s best-picture-winning drama, will soon be available to stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. Moonlight was produced and distributed by A24, which has a multi-year streaming deal with Amazon for all its upcoming films. Landing Jenkins’s new series is yet another way for the streaming platform to capitalize on its burgeoning prestige reputation.
Jenkins is set to write and direct The Underground Railroad, Whitehead’s reimagining of the antebellum South—an alternate history in which the famous slave escape route is an actual operating railroad. The series will be co-executive produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Pastel, Jenkins’s production company, co-founded by producers Adele Romanski and Sara Murphy.
“Going back to The Intuitionist, Colson’s writing has always defied convention, and The Underground Railroad is no different,” Jenkins said in a statement. “It’s a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation’s history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way. Preserving the sweep and grandeur of a story like this requires bold, innovative thinking and in Amazon we’ve found a partner whose reverence for storytelling and freeness of form is wholly in line with our vision.”
Amazon Studios has been on a hot streak with its prestige material in the last few months. In February, it earned its first best-picture nod thanks to Manchester by the Sea, the drama about a grieving father starring Casey Affleck. Though the film ultimately lost best picture to Moonlight, Affleck won the award for best actor, and writer/director Kenneth Lonergan picked up the prize for best original screenplay.
In addition, Amazon has a lock on Matthew Weiner’s upcoming series, his first since his Emmy-hoarding AMC drama Mad Men helped kick off the current golden age of television. Titled The Romanoffs, the show will be an eight-hour anthology (anthologies: so hot right now) about people who think they’re descendants of that royal Russian family. “Amazon reminded me of AMC in the beginning,” he recently told Variety, likely to the delight of Amazon execs everywhere. The streaming platform has already seen Emmy and Golden Globe success thanks to Jill Soloway’s beloved dramedy Transparent, but is stepping up its game in the limited-series department. In other words, watch out, Netflix—Jeff Bezos is coming for you.
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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