Steaming giant Netflix officially opened its new French headquarters in Paris on Friday in a move that Netflix chairman and CEO Reed Hastings said signalled a long-term commitment to the country.
Hastings, who flew into Paris to celebrate the official launch, said the new French office would enable Netflix ”to work even more closely with the French creative community on great shows and films that are made in France and watched all around the world.”
Some 40 staff are due to be based at the new French offices in the city’s 9th arrondissement, which will also act as a development hub for local creatives. Netflix now has four offices in Europe.
To mark the event, the company officially unveiled a raft of new French original series and films.
The new productions - many of which had already been reported on in the local media in recent months - include artificial intelligence comedy BigBug by Oscar-nominated director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and an untitled series by Call My Agent! creator and writer Fanny Herrero.
Based on a script by Jeunet and Guillaume Laurent, BigBug is a futuristic comedy about robots and will star lsa Zylberstein, Isabelle Nanty and Manu Payet. Herrero, meanwhile, is working on a six-part series about four young comedians trying to make it in the Paris stand-up comedy scene.
Netflix also officially announced action picture Sentinelle by Julien Leclercq, best known for hi-octane thrillers such as Of Earth And Blood and The Crew. It also confirmed it would be renewing youth-focused, sci-fi series Mortel for a second series.
The company also highlighted six previously announced high profile productions for 2020: Arsène Lupin, La Révolution, The Eddy, Vampires and two documentaries, one about soccer star Nicolas Anelka, the other on rap artist Maître Gims.
Created by George Kay in collaboration with François Uzan, Arsène Lupin is currently shooting and stars Omar Sy as the iconic gentleman burglar. Louis Leterrier is directing the first three episodes.
The Eddy is the long awaited series from Damien Chazelle while Vampires stars Oulaya Amamra, best known internationally for her role in Camera d’Or winner Divines, as a teenage vampire living in modern-day Paris.
“We are incredibly proud of the productions we’re currently filming, the ones we are developing and the ones we’ve unveiled today. The establishment of a new French creative hub brings new opportunities for us to work with the best and most exciting creative talent in France and to bring diverse genres and content to everyone who loves French storytelling,” said Damien Couvreur, the recently-appointed director of series in France for Netflix.
The opening of the Netflix offices came in a week in which the French media reported that the government is mulling a plan to demand that streaming platforms re-invest 25% of their French revenues back into European productions as part of an ongoing reform of the country’s audiovisual laws.
Since the platform first launched in France in 2014, it has developed 24 French titles including six films, nine series, five stand-up shows, three documentaries and one unscripted series.
A study released by French cinema export agency Unifrance on Thursday into the presence of French films on 56 streaming platforms in 39 territories revealed that French films represented 2.5% of the offering on Netflix. The study did not include TV series.
In other new initiatives for France, the company also announced it was launching an 11-month residency programme with celebrated French cinema school Fémis aimed at helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into film and TV.
The company said it would also be supporting Divines director Houda Benyamina’s association 1000 visages, which she founded in 2006 to encourage diversity in visual arts by providing training programmes.
Netflix said it had signed up to be a main partner on its training programme devoted to series writing. Benyamina, whose debut feature Divines was one of Netflix’s first Cannes acquisitions, is directing two episodes of The Eddy.
The platform also revealed that it was partnering with France’s respected Gobelins animation school to sponsor a programme sending one graduate a year to Japan for work experience with local animation experts and to sponsor four masters scholarships.