Source: Netflix


Netflix is as interested in acquiring third-party titles as it is in producing original films, said Larry Tanz, Netflix VP of content for EMEA.

Tanz underlined the importance of films to the streamer on a visit to Netflix’s European production hub in Tres Cantos on the outskirts of Madrid.

“What we care about is bringing the best films and series to our members,” said Tanz. “If it’s a huge film from Constantin that’s in theatres and then on Netflix, if our members love it, that’s great. If it’s something that we commission, that’s great as well.

“We know that we need to deliver great films, including local films, to satisfy our members’ love of films.”

Netflix has pay-one licencing deals with theatrical distributors including Constantin in Germany, Studiocanal in the UK and SF Studios in Sweden. It recently struck a deal with new Italian distributor Piper Films which will see Paolo Sorrentino’s Cannes Competition title Parthenope stream on Netflix after its theatrical run in Italy.

“That benefits the film because we’re financing, and that benefits us because we get an amazing film from Sorrentino,” said Tanz.   

But Tanz emphasised commissioning original films remains key to Netflix, particularly “big films” but also local comedies and “other types of films that maybe are getting made less and less for theatrical”.

Diego Ávalos, Netflix’s VP of content Spain, Portugal & Nordics, added: “From a Spain perspective, film is super central to what we do. [Netflix viewers] don’t differentiate where a great film is coming from, whether it originated within Netflix or elsewhere.”

Larry Tanz

Source: Netflix

Larry Tanz

Tanz said it is more “meaningful” to premiere series on Netflix compared to films. “Following something that’s already been on TV is less special than following something that was just in the theatre.”

All of Netflix’s global top 10 non-English language films come from the EMEA region, the streamer said. Norway’s Troll is the most popular of all time, followed by Spain’s Society Of The Snow, Nowhere and The Platform. Next up is France’s Under Paris, then Through My Window from Spain, AKA from France, Germany’s Blood Red Sky, Italy’s My Name Is Vendetta and Sweden’s Black Crab.

Upcoming Netflix original European features include Dutch gangster sequel Ferry 2, produced by De Mensen in association with Belgian broadcaster VRT; the second instalment of Spanish hit The Platform from Basque Films; Cristina Comencini-directed Italian drama Il Treno Dei Bambini produced by Palomar; and Polish crime story The Assault from director Michal Gazda and producer Magdalena Szwedkowicz, the team behind Forgotten Love.

Production hub

Netflix was keen to emphasise the amount of European content it produces in countries such as Spain. It comes as many European countries, concerned about the growth of US-owned streaming services at the expense of public service broadcasters, are introducing investment obligations or streamer levies to mandate spend on European content.

Spain has become an important hub for Netflix which has shot international productions includingThe Mother, The Crown and Warrior Nun in the territory. Netflix has worked with 60 production companies in Spain and has produced in all but one of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities. This includes upcoming show Gangs Of Galicia, largely filmed in Galicia in the northwest of Spain, which holds its premiere on June 20 in the Galician city of A Coruña.

Asked about Netflix’s strategy for Europe at a time when many streamers have reduced spend, Tanz said Netflix is continuing to invest in local films, series and unscripted. “Variety is important, from having that medical drama [like Breathless] they’re going to love to that period drama [The Lady’s Companion]… No entertainment company has tried to programme that breadth and with that ambition. So as part of that, we’re continuing to invest.”

Tanz said that Netflix’s US headquarters is “very hands off” when it comes to commissioning. He recalled Money Heist creator Alex Pina initially had to fly to Los Angeles to pitch a show he wanted to make in Spain but now he could pitch direct to Netflix’s Spanish commissioning team.

With its main European HQ in Amsterdam, Netflix has 11 country offices in Europe, including Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Poland. Each has full teams, spanning creative, production, post-production, business affairs and finance.

“The whole approach is locally originated with local storytellers, with local talent. That authenticity is what resonates with audiences,” said Tanz.

He said all of Netflix’s European shows that have been hits with international audiences had first been successful on their home turf. “There aren’t any global shows that aren’t huge hits in their local market with a local audience,” said Tanz, citing Money HeistBerlin and Elite from Spain.

Production hub

Netflix's Tres Cantos hub

Source: Netflix

Netflix’s Tres Cantos hub

The Tres Cantos hub celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, having hosted Spanish features such as Society Of The Snow as well as series Berlin, Elite and Money Heist, and Charlie Covell’s mythological dark comedy series Kaos  from the UK.

Police procedural anthology Criminal was the first show produced at the hub, hosting teams from UK, France, Germany and Spain.

Tres Cantos is Netflix’s largest filming base in the European Union – it also leases Shepperton Studios in the UK – and is currently hosting several productions. One is the Spanish high-end medical drama Breathless (Respira), created by Carlos Montero, who was behind Netflix hit Elite. The 1500-sq-m set took six months to build, and recreates the interior of a Valencia hospital. Eighty percent of the show is being filmed on the set, with the remainder on location in Valencia.

The facility is also housing the 1870s-set period comedy drama The Lady’s Companion (Manual Para Señoritas), a kind of Spanish Bridgerton from Bambu Producciones, whose showrunner Gema R Neira was also behind Netflix hit Cable Girls. The set for the series occupies another 1500 sq m set, recreating a lavish Barcelona house decorated in art noveau style with a modern twist.

Also at the studios is The Fall Out Shelter, from Money Heist creator Álex Pina and Esther Martínez Lobato, which is filming most of its scenes on a virtual production stage.

Other productions including Society Of The Snow and Berlin have also used the virtual production stage.