Amazon’s Citadel cost $250 million but absolutely bombed: report

The show is said to have come in behind even Netflix's Barbecue Showdown

Citadel Richard Madden Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Amazon’s big-budget Citadel series was a big flop.

In a broader piece about the company’s significant spending on Prime Video content, Bloomberg noted that the poorly received spy series, starring Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, failed to make an impression on viewers. The streamer is reported to have spent around $250 million USD (about $330 million CAD) on Citadel, making it the second most expensive series of all time behind fellow Prime Original The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Per U.S. ratings tracking site Nielsen, Citadel didn’t even crack the top 10 most-watched streaming shows of any week it aired. Considering the series went on for five weeks after debuting in late April, that’s particularly damning. For context, Bloomberg notes that Citadel came in behind Netflix’s Barbecue Showdown, a reality competition series that clearly would have cost a fraction of the price to make.

It should be noted, though, that Nielsen only tracks U.S. data, so this doesn’t paint an entire picture regarding Citadel‘s performance. The series is positioned as a global spy thriller that will also double as a launchpad for a larger interconnected franchise of shows, including those set in Italy, India, Spain, and Mexico.

Speaking at the Banff World Media Festival last month, Amazon’s head of drama series, Odetta Watkins, also said the show “needs time to grow” domestically for “very jaded” U.S. audiences. She also reiterated Amazon’s claims that the show is doing better internationally, but in typical streamer secrecy, the company hasn’t provided concrete data to back this up.

Still, the seeming critical and commercial indifference to something as expensive as Citadel doesn’t exactly signal a strong start for the larger media franchise. It remains to be seen how audiences will receive the foreign productions or even Citadel‘s confirmed second season.

As the Bloomberg feature dives into, Amazon also has a larger problem regarding mass spending. The outlet reports that Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has been meeting with Prime Video leadership to look into the entertainment division’s massive spending. That’s because the company has had several expensive shows in the past year that have failed to connect with domestic audiences.

Daisy Jones & the Six, The Power, Dead Ringers and The Peripheral all reportedly cost in excess of $100 million USD (about $132 million CAD) to produce, but none of them cracked Nielsen’s weekly top 10 lists. Even The Rings of Power came 15th in Nielsen’s top streaming shows for 2022, behind Amazon’s own The Boys, which cost far less to make.

This all comes at a time when companies are tightening their belts more than ever, with Amazon, in particular, aiming to eliminate at least 27,000 jobs to help cut costs.

Image credit: Amazon

Source: Bloomberg