Guillermo del Toro Goes Steampunk With New Amazon Pilot

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Amazon continues its play for digital domination with the announcement of five new pilots to be produced by their own Amazon Studios. First on the docket is a promising sci-fi venture from Guillermo del Toro and Pacific Rim co-writer Travis Beacham entitled Carnival Row. Adapted from an original feature script penned by Beacham in 2005, Carnival Row will showcase more than a few del Toro staples as it follows a serial killer on the loose in a Victorian future city where humans live alongside fantastical creatures. The pilot was written by Cuban-American Star Trek veteran René Echeverria, who will also serve as the series’ showrunner. Del Toro and Beacham will executive produce.

And while Hollywood’s hardest-hitting Latinos write about a steam-punky first-world future, screenwriting duo Josh Goldin and Rachel Abramowitz will be taking us back to Latin America’s past with yet another story about a romanticized, pre-revolutionary Cuba. Executive produced by Andrea Simon, Tropicana will hit all narrative cues that make American mouths water, including Cuba’s famed 1950s nightlife scene, Batista, mobsters, encroaching revolutionaries, and so forth.

Named after Havana’s iconic cabaret, Tropicana will be wading into well-worn territory, but will also have a unique opportunity to change the familiar narrative codified by Hollywood in everything from The Godfather II to the recent feature Papá: Hemingway in Cuba. With Cuba on everyone’s trending radars, let’s just hope it’s not an opportunistic play for easy ratings.

Once the pilot episodes are complete, they’ll be streamed online for audiences to vote for their favorites. Amazon then makes final decisions on which shows get the greenlight and a full series order.