Netflix Hosts Big Bash in Paris for European Launch

Kate Mulgrew, 'Orange Is the New Black' (Netflix)
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"I’m really happy that we came to France first. This is exactly the kind of culture that needs to launch us in Europe," says Emmy nominee Kate Mulgrew

Netflix hosted a French fete to toast its highly-anticipated rollout here Monday night, with castmembers from Orange Is the New BlackHemlock Grove and From Dusk Till Dawn descending on the city to celebrate. France is the first of six countries this week to get the streaming service that revolutionized U.S. television.

While Paris was the table for the dice to be rolled across Europe, Emmy nominee Kate Mulgrew is glad it was the first. The notoriously cultural country doesn’t “put up with bullshit,” said the actress who plays Red on the prison dramedy.

“They know what they like,” she said, bouncing between her character's Russian and her own American accent. “I’m really happy that we came to France first. This is exactly the kind of culture that needs to launch us in Europe. If the French kiss it the way I think they will, the rest of Europe will be easy. They’re the toughest audience, and I think the best, always have been.”

Hemlock Grove star Famke Janssen has had a taste of the Netflix frenzy before, when the service launched its first European endeavor in Amsterdam last year.

“It’s so funny to see how people are so skeptical in Europe: ‘What is this American thing? Who are these Americans that are trying to infiltrate our market?’ ” she said, countering that it’s a whole new world for continental talent to develop shows with Silicon Valley cash. “I think at the beginning there’s resistance, just like there was in Holland and just like there seems to be all over Europe. Once people embrace it and people realize it is an opportunity to create their own content to give a voice to their own directors, writers and actors, I think it’s wonderful.”

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said each European launch will be based on local tastes. “We try to do our best based on what local markets will enjoy, based on what they are watching on [broadcast] television,” he said, citing popular hits The Big Bang Theory and The Mentalist as French favorites that the Los Gatos-based company has not offered before.

International programming is not just borne out of big data, he added: “It’s a really great media market with a traditional love of stories, so historically, I think we should do well.” The French-produced Marseilles, which will shoot in the southern city, will go into production soon and be available late next year. The Netflix execs met with Marseilles' officials while in France for the press tour.

It remains to be seen what French audiences will think. But don't expect Netflix to tell — it refuses to disclose targets or let media outlets know if it meets them.