Amazon, Netflix stock original series cupboard

Netflix's (NASDAQ: NFLX) international expansion is continuing along its planned growth path, with the subscription video on demand provider announcing its first French-produced series, Marseille, slated to premiere in late 2015. Meantime, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is sticking with its pilot-to-series original content model, debuting five new pilots this week for viewers to rate and review.

Amazon Studios' third pilot season includes three half-hour comedies: Red Oaks, The Cosmopolitans and Really, and two hour-long dramatic thrillers: Hand of God and Hysteria. Viewers can watch the pilot episodes on Amazon Instant Video via their mobile devices or streaming devices, or online at amazonoriginals.com.

User feedback is, of course, an integral part of the pilot plan. Its second pilot season, in February, resulted in six series being greenlighted for further production, including its best-received pilot to date, Transparent--whose 10-episode season will premiere Sept. 26 in the U.S. and UK.

"It's an exciting time at Prime Instant Video, with new, original shows coming to the service every month for the rest of the year," said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, in a prepared statement.

Transparent's director and executive producer, Jill Soloway, said Amazon was supportive throughout the series' production. "Artistically, it's been a dream come true. I absolutely got to make the show I wanted to make."

In the meantime, Netflix is continuing with its plans to develop original content both for a global audience and for audiences in the countries in which it is debuting. Marseille is a political thriller set in the infamous port city.

"Netflix has given us a blank page to create a House of Cards in French that breaks through unspoken hypocrisy. This is a writer's dream and a great opportunity for French producers and creators to enter a new world," said Dan Franck, series creator and writer.

Director Florent Emilio Siri is hoping the series will give him artistic freedom he's been seeking. "The movie business in France today confines itself to comedy or what is called 'author cinema.' TV series give movie directors the potential of a new opportunity to be able to explore and express their talents within the full extent of their art," he said. "This is why I'm really eager to work on Marseille."

Production on Marseille will start in spring 2015, with the series expected to premiere in all Netflix territories sometime in the fall of 2015. It's being produced by Paris-based Federation Entertainment in partnership with the SVOD provider.

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