Netflix Unveils New Projects, Plans for Growth in Spain at Production Hub Inauguration

Netflix Spanish Launch - H - 2019
Credit: Netflix

CEO Reed Hastings on Thursday called the new hub evidence that the streaming giant was “investing for the long term.”

Netflix announced two new projects and a potential near-doubling of employees on productions in Spain next year at the official inauguration of its new production hub in Madrid on Thursday.

CEO Reed Hastings said the choice of Spain for the company’s first European production hub indicates “that we’re going to be a part of the Spanish creative ecosystem forever. We’re not just experimenting and trying something. We’re investing for the long term.” A statement from the firm underscored “a multi-million dollar investment in content in Spanish.” 

Netflix vp Spanish originals Francisco Ramos unveiled two new series out of Spain.

The first project, from director Mateo Gil (Agora), is the six-episode The Favorites of Midas, based on the Jack London short story with Luis Tosar (Gun City) starring and Nostromo Pictures producing. The second effort, the eight-episode El Inocente, is based on the noir novel by Harlan Coben and will be directed by Oriol Paulo (Durante la Tormenta) and co-produced by Belen Atienza for Sospecha and Think Studio.

The hub and new projects reflect Netflix’s ambitious plans for Spain, where Maria Ferreras, vp business development, said the company hopes to nearly double its employment on productions from 13,000 in 2018 to as many as 25,000 this year. Ramos noted that Spain is, together with the U.K., the location of Netflix’s heaviest volume of production.

“We have found around the world a great thirst for interesting stories, and it turns out that not all interesting stories come from Hollywood,” Hastings said in a tightly controlled onstage interview with Money Heist star Alvaro Morte. “We’ve been investing tremendously around the world — in France, Italy, Denmark, Germany and, in particular, in Spain — because the stories are very well done, there’s a great professional spirit and work ethic, and talent."

“We’re following what our members around the world want to watch,” added the exec. "They want to watch Spanish shows.”

Morte said that Money Heist had changed his life and led to people recognizing him on the streets, underscoring the fact that "here in Spain we can do things that can be a success in the whole world.”

Money Heist’s third season will be released July 19 on the platform.

During a panel presentation moderated by Ramos, producers and directors shared their visions for what Netflix signifies for the Spanish industry.

Atienza noted the “historical moment” in the audiovisual industry and for Spain. “The stability that this level of investment, which has always been a little tight in Spain, offers in the lives of producers and creators can change things for the better in Spain, and I think we’re already seeing that.”

“We can think bigger now because we have the funds to do so,” agreed Bambu Producciones’ executive producer Teresa Fernandez-Valdez, a regular production partner with Netflix.

“We can dream of bigger stories now,” underscored Alex Pina, creator of the Money Heist series, which found global success on Netflix after a mediocre reception on Spain’s free-to-air Antena 3 Television first. Pina signed an exclusive overall deal with Netflix last July.

“The bottleneck between production and exhibition has broken,” added Mariano Barroso, co-director of Netflix's pan-European police series Criminal. “Our productions are finding their public.”

Ramos, who fielded questions from the audience, including those directed at Hastings, noted that Barroso, in his capacity as current president of the Spanish Film Academy, could help mediate conversations between Netflix and Spanish exhibitors, who are as concerned as members of their industry elsewhere around the world are about the breakdown of the system of exploitation windows due to streaming platforms.

Netflix’s new production hub is located about 20 minutes outside Madrid in Tres Cantos. Managed by Grupo Secuoya, the hub currently has three soundstages in operation and another two under construction for planned use starting next January. As Hastings noted Thursday, “We’re producing shows all over Spain,” with only two shooting currently at the hub. “So, this is a small sample of the impact around Spain.”