Amazon kills 'Zombieland' TV project, backs 'Alpha House'

SAN FRANCISCO Sat May 18, 2013 4:55am IST

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc(AMZN.O) decided not to turn pilot project "Zombieland" into a full TV series, but is going ahead with "Alpha House," as the world's largest online retailer enters the next stage of its foray into original video creation.

"Zombieland" writer and producer Rhett Reese wrote on Twitter that Amazon's decision was "sad for everyone" and blamed it on negative online reviews of the pilot by viewers.

Amazon picked "Alpha House" to develop into a full TV series, said Garry Trudeau, the "Doonesbury" cartoonist who wrote the comedy and is co-executive producer on the project.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on Friday.

Amazon produced 14 TV pilots and posted them online earlier this year to watch for free. The company has been collecting reviews of the shows and has been crunching other data, such as viewing times, to decide which projects to turn into full TV series.

This is part of a new push by the company to make its own TV shows and distribute them over the Internet - something rivals such as Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Hulu are also doing.

Zombieland, based on the successful movie of the same name, got more than 5,500 reviews averaging 3-1/2 stars on Amazon. There were over 1,200 one- and two-star reviews.

"I wanted to love Zombieland, as a fan of the original. I really did," wrote one viewer. "However the pilot felt like Zombieland sans the wit that made Zombieland funny."

Reese, the writer and producer, blamed such feedback for the TV show's demise.

"I'll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence," he wrote on Twitter.

Alpha House, a political comedy starring John Goodman, got 2,600 reviews on Amazon averaging four stars. More than half of the reviews gave it five stars and just over 350 gave it either one or two stars.

Amazon also picked up "Betas," a comedy about technology start-ups in Silicon Valley, as a full series, according to Hollywood news website Deadline. This pilot received more than 1,500 reviews on Amazon averaging 4-1/2 stars.

"Browsers," a musical comedy starring Bebe Neuwirth, was not picked up by Amazon, Deadline also reported. This pilot got 860 reviews on Amazon averaging three stars.

All Things D also reported some of Amazon's decisions on the pilots on Friday.

(Reporting by Alistair Barr; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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