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Phoebe Waller-Bridge: A look back at unproductive $60 million partnership with Amazon Prime Video


Following the global success of her series, Fleabag, all eyes were on what Phoebe Waller-Bridge would produce next after she inked a $20 million per year deal with Amazon Prime Video.

But since the three-year deal was announced in 2019, the 37-year-old’s collaboration with the streaming service has failed to be as fruitful as many might have expected.

In fact, Waller-Bridge did not produce a single show or film for the platform between 2019 and 2022 due to a series of unexpected circumstances.

Along with the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on the entertainment industry, things took a surprising turn when it came to the only big-name project Waller-Bridge had been publicly attached to for Jeff Bezos‘ company.

Moneybags: In 2019, Phoebe Waller-Bridge signed a three-year deal with Prime Video – earning $20 million per year

Smash hit: The star was red-hot at the time of the deal thanks to the success of Fleabag

Smash hit: The star was red-hot at the time of the deal thanks to the success of Fleabag

Soon after she signed her deal, Waller-Bridge was announced as the leading lady and executive producer for a buzz-worthy TV adaptation of the hit 2015 action comedy flick, Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

The actress and her Star Wars co-star Donald Glover had initially pitched the series together and were set to star as assassins John and Jane Smith – in roles first made famous by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

However, it was revealed in September 2021 that the Solo: A Star Wars Story actress quit her part in the show due to ‘creative differences’ with Glover.

Her role was eventually recast with Maya Erskine, with Waller-Bridge is still credited on IMDB as a co-creator of the series.

Though she is currently still marked as a writer for an unknown amount of episodes, it is unclear whether that will change upon release. 

After being paid $60 million over the span of three years without any of her projects coming to fruition for Prime Video, many were surprised when it was announced that the deal had been renewed in January.

This time it was revealed that she had two new projects in the works; producing a Tomb Raider TV series and working on an adaptation of Claudia Lux’s novel Sign Here.

Despite this, the deal has come under fire from multiple industry sources, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Working hard? By the end of the three years, many were surprised to see that none of the star's projects came to fruition for Prime Video

Working hard? By the end of the three years, many were surprised to see that none of the star’s projects came to fruition for Prime Video

Still got it? In January, it was announced that Waller-Bridge's deal had been renewed - raising eyebrows across the industry

Still got it? In January, it was announced that Waller-Bridge’s deal had been renewed – raising eyebrows across the industry

Indeed, Prime Video is still seeking a showrunner Tomb Rider, leading many to continue to question how involved the Fleabag creator will be.

Head of Television at Amazon, Vernon Sanders, hit back at recent comments and stated: ‘Phoebe has not only fully embraced Tomb Raider and I think is feeling very committed to it, but she’s in a writers room right now working on it.’

He continued: ‘She’s a perfectionist, so she absolutely wants to make sure that what she does is great and right, but she’s proven that when she does deliver, she delivers.’

Here, DailyMail.com takes a look back at the surprising twists and turns of the award-winning star’s collaboration with Amazon Prime so far.

Creative differences: Waller-Bridge stepped away from Mr. & Mrs. Smith project after clashing with Donald Glover 

Failed attempt: Phoebe Waller-Bridge dropped out of a TV remake of Mr & Mrs Smith due to a difference of 'vision' with co-creator Donald Glover; the duo pictured in 2019

Failed attempt: Phoebe Waller-Bridge dropped out of a TV remake of Mr & Mrs Smith due to a difference of ‘vision’ with co-creator Donald Glover; the duo pictured in 2019

Anticipated follow-up: They were set to star together in the series is based on the 2005 hit film - taking on the roles made famous by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Anticipated follow-up: They were set to star together in the series is based on the 2005 hit film – taking on the roles made famous by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

There was immediate levels of excitement and intrigue in February 2021, when Donald Glover and Phoebe Waller-Bridge confirmed they would be putting a different spin on Mr. & Mrs. Smith in a series for Amazon Prime Video and New Regency.

And to help break the news to the world: Glover, Waller-Bridge and Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke took to their Instagram pages to post a teaser video.

Moving forward: Maya Erskine has taken over the role, with Waller-Bridge still credited as a producer

Moving forward: Maya Erskine has taken over the role, with Waller-Bridge still credited as a producer 

The clip saw Glover and Waller-Bridge doing TikTok trends, while the Fleabag star’s caption read: ‘Introducing the new Mr. & Mrs. Smith 2022. Co created with Francesca Sloan New Regency + @amazonstudios + PWB + @childishgambino.’

In a statement, Salke gushed: ‘Talk about the dream team! Donald and Phoebe are two of the most talented creators and performers in the world. It’s truly a dream for us, as it will be for our global audience, to have these two forces of nature collaborating as a powerhouse creative team.

‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith is an iconic property, and we can’t wait to see how Donald, Phoebe and Francesca make it their own. We’re thrilled to be working with them, and with such great partners at New Regency.’

The series had been in the works for months by the time the video was released, and it had been expected to debut in 2022.

Just months later, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Waller-Bridge quit the show due to having a ‘different creative vision’ compared to Glover.

In a later interview with Interview Magazine, the Atlanta actor made it clear that the parting was amicable as he stated: ‘I still like her. I assume she still likes me.’

Waller-Bridge is still credited on IMDB as a co-creator, while she is marked as a writer for an unknown amount of episodes.

Dividing her attention: The star was juggling other acting and producing projects with other companies

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones: Dial of Destiny

The actress plays Helena Shaw, the goddaughter of Harrison Ford's whip-wielding archaeologist

Leading lady: The actress, 37, plays Helena Shaw (pictured, left), the goddaughter of Harrison Ford ’s whip-wielding archaeologist in the film’s fifth instalment, Dial of Destiny

Around the same time Waller-Bridge signed her 2019 deal with Amazon, the star had been tapped up to help spruce up the script for the most recent James Bond film, No Time To Die. 

Elsewhere, she had a role in His Dark Materials and also worked as an executive producer for HBO series, Run.

The comedy thriller aired in 2020 but network bosses pulled the plug after only seven episodes.

Waller-Bridge had a recurring role as a lesbian taxidermist in the program which also starred US actress Merritt Wever and Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson.

The show followed Ruby and Billy, former college sweethearts who made a pact 17 years ago: if either texted ‘Run’, and the other replied with the same, they’d drop everything, meet in New York’s Grand Central station and travel across America. 

TV flop: Her HBO series Run aired in 2020 but got cancelled after only seven episodes

TV flop: Her HBO series Run aired in 2020 but got cancelled after only seven episodes

Despite being well received by critics, the show struggled to find an audience, averaging just 232,000 viewers an episode when it aired on HBO in April and May.

A Hollywood TV source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Run was liked by network bosses at a time when Fleabag and Killing Eve were the hottest things on the planet. However, Run just did not translate to HBO audiences as expected.’

The source added at the time: ‘Sure, it’s the first flop for Phoebe Stateside, but she does not have time to lick her wounds. Her deal with Amazon Studios means she has three years of pitching concepts and series to them exclusively with a fine budget on the table.’ 

Meanwhile, the star landed a starring role in the upcoming Indiana Jones film alongside Harrison Ford – which is due for release on June 30.

The actress plays Helena Shaw, the goddaughter of Harrison Ford’s whip-wielding archaeologist in the film’s fifth instalment, Dial of Destiny.

She will also be starring in the fantasy comedy If, featuring Ryan Reynolds and Steve Carrell – which is due for release in 2024.

It also reported that Waller-Bridge may find herself named director of the next Bond movie.

The Mail on Sunday learned in April that the Fleabag star has been in ‘early discussions’ with Bond producer Barbara Broccoli.

Fresh start: Now Waller-Bridge hopes to finally bring new shows to screen after renewing her lucrative deal

Looking ahead: After signing her new deal, Waller-Bridge will be developing an TV series of the Claudia Lux novel, Sign Here

Looking ahead: After signing her new deal, Waller-Bridge will be developing an TV series of the Claudia Lux novel, Sign Here

Though her first three years working with Amazon didn’t produce as much content as expected, the streaming service has revealed several projects that Waller-Bridge is actively working on.

After renewing their partnership in January, it was revealed that the Emmy-winning star is writing a script for a new Tomb Raider TV series.

Waller-Bridge will also be producing the program inspired by the popular video game, according to The Hollywood Reporter

However, she will not follow in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander by being the actress to bring the character of Lara Croft to life.

Big project: The Emmy-winning star is writing a script for a new Tomb Raider TV series

Big project: The Emmy-winning star is writing a script for a new Tomb Raider TV series

Meanwhile, Amazon is reported to be seeking a showrunner to helm the series – leading some to wonder how involved the actress will be in the making of the program.

Elsewhere, Variety also confirmed that Waller-Bridge will be developing an TV series of the Claudia Lux novel, Sign Here.

The star has signed on as an executive producer for the comedy which will explore the bureaucracy of Hell from the perspective of a low-level employee.

According to the official logline, the series is ‘a darkly humorous, utterly gripping debut novel about a guy who works in Hell (literally). Peyote Trip has a pretty good gig in the deals department on the fifth floor of Hell. 

‘Sure, none of the pens work, the coffee machine has been out of order for a century, and the only drink on offer is Jägermeister, but it’s still Hell and after waiting a millennium he comes up with a plan that might just change his life (and death) forever.’

There also appears to be another Untitled Amazon Project in the works, though no further details have been revealed since it was first reporter in March 2022.

Despite the lack of content produced, partnering with Amazon continues to be lucrative for Waller-Bridge and her company.

Accounts filed in August for her company PMWB Limited revealed an annual turnover of $23 million, with a profit of $13 million.

Some fans have suggested that Waller-Bridge might participate in ‘a lot of uncredited script doctoring, story consultancy or screenplay appraisals’ as part of her deal, meaning her influence behind-the-scenes could be more invaluable that it appears. 

DailyMail.com has contacted Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s representatives for comment. 



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