Amazon to stream major National Theatre plays in UK and Ireland

Cumberbatch and McKellen among big names to appears in live-recorded stage shows to feature on Prime

Amazon has partnered with the National Theatre to stream four high-profile live-recorded stage shows, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag.

The shows, which include Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in 2011’s Frankenstein, will be made available to Amazon’s Prime Video customers in the UK and Ireland from 11 June.

The two other performances are Cumberbatch as Hamlet, filmed at the Barbican in 2015, and Ian McKellen on Stage, a solo show the Lord of the Rings actor toured in 2019 to mark his 80th birthday.

“As theatre-makers continue to be impacted by the pandemic, this will enable us to further support the artists behind the work,” said Lisa Burger, the joint chief executive at the National Theatre, which has beamed theatre performances into British cinemas for the past 12 years. “Audiences will have the best seats in the house.”

In August last year, the internet company and its production arm, Amazon Studios, donated £500,000 to the Theatre Community Fund, launched by The Crown actor Olivia Colman, Waller-Bridge and Francesca Moody to provide hardship grants to theatre workers and freelancers.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

“The National Theatre have brought us some of the most memorable theatrical productions of the last decade, and we are delighted to give our customers across the UK and Ireland an opportunity to experience them,” said Martin Backlund, head of content for the UK, Ireland and Nordics at Prime Video. “The cream of UK acting talent so often started their career in theatre, and we want to shine a light on the incredible heritage we have here.”

The deal comes a week after British cinemas re-opened their doors for the first time since last year as the government continues to ease Covid restrictions. Cinema owners enjoyed their strongest opening weekend in the UK since movie theatres were first forced to shut in March last year. The estimated £7m in ticket sales, led by Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, beat the previous pandemic high of £6m taken by Tenet when it was released last August.

Amazon is in talks to buy MGM, the Hollywood studio behind the James Bond and Rocky franchises, for as much as $9bn (£6.3bn) as it battles against rivals including Netflix and Disney+ in the global fight for streaming supremacy.


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Amazon TV hints at significant expansion into sport broadcasting
Head of Amazon Studios says at Edinburgh TV festival sport is good opportunity for company’s video streaming service

Graham Ruddick Media editor

25, Aug, 2017 @3:35 PM

Article image
Amazon moves into UK live music starting with Blondie London gig
US company to expand music strategy with Prime Live Events, in latest move to attract subscribers

Mark Sweney

09, May, 2017 @5:00 AM

Article image
Danny Boyle's Frankenstein reanimated for National Theatre streaming service
Hit 2011 show joins Antony and Cleopatra, starring Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, in being broadcast as part of free scheme

Chris Wiegand

23, Apr, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Amazon outbids Sky to win exclusive ATP tour tennis rights
Amazon Prime streaming service will now show nearly all elite men’s tennis events except the four grand slams

Mark Sweney

01, Aug, 2017 @11:26 AM

Article image
The National Theatre's Frankenstein: 'It was blinding – you felt the heat'
As Danny Boyle’s production is streamed online, its set designer Mark Tildesley recalls putting thousands of bulbs and an ancient bell to shocking effect

Interview by Chris Wiegand

28, Apr, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Amazon takes on Netflix with rebrand of LoveFilm video-on-demand service
Online retailer will fold film and TV rental arm into its Prime subscription service for combined price of £79 a year

Mark Sweney

21, Feb, 2014 @12:05 AM

Article image
Netflix and Amazon become more popular than pay-TV services
Subscriber numbers for streaming services rise as young people shy away from traditional broadcasting

Mark Sweney

17, Jul, 2018 @11:01 PM

Article image
Premier League brings record number of sign-ups to Amazon Prime
Streaming of 10 top-flight matches increases prospects of firm entering rights auction

Mark Sweney

06, Dec, 2019 @11:29 AM

Article image
Amazon buys exclusive UK rights to US Open tennis tournament
Five-year deal, thought worth $40m, gives Prime subscribers in UK access to grand slam event

Mark Sweney and Samuel Gibbs

19, Apr, 2018 @2:11 PM

Article image
Amazon Prime Video's growth outpaces Netflix in UK
Cross-promotion to Amazon shoppers and new on-demand series rank it top in 2017

Mark Sweney

03, May, 2018 @1:32 PM