Netflix Unveils Paris Office, New French Originals

Reed Hastings - Getty - H 2019
Ore Huiying/Getty Images for Netflix

The streaming giant is making a major European push as new studio competitors enter the SVOD market.

Netflix kicked off 2020 with a bang in Paris on Friday, as CEO Reed Hastings opened the company's new French headquarters and unveiled a slate of original French TV series and films.

Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet will make Big Bug, his long-in-development “science fiction comedy with robots,” for Netflix. The project had been turned down by most of France's major studios, who didn't see its commercial potential. Elsa Zylberstein, Isabelle Nanty and Manu Payet will star.

Other French projects announced Friday include a six-part series from Call My Agent! writer Fanny Herrero about four young comedians trying to make it in the Paris stand-up scene; the action film Sentinelle, starring Olga Kurylenko and from director Julien Leclercq (The Assault); and the second season of YA sci-fi series Mortel.

Netflix has already announced some 20 French originals, including the Damien Chazelle-directed The Eddy, created by Jack Thorne, set in the French jazz scene, which stars Leïla Bekhti and Tahar Rahim; Arsène Lupin, starring Omar Sy and created by George Kay in collaboration with François Uzanand; and the historical thriller La Révolution, created by Aurélien Molas (Red Creek).

“We are incredibly proud of the productions we’re currently filming, the ones we are developing and the ones we’ve unveiled today,” said Damien Couvreur, Netflix’s director of series in France. “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.”

Netflix's swanky new offices, located in the center of the French capital, will house 40 employees. The company also used the occasion to announce a series of partnerships with French creative institutions, part of a broader charm initiative to counter local critics. These include a cooperation with 1,000 visages, an association providing training programs and access to jobs in the creative industry for youth from underprivileged backgrounds. The association was founded in 2006 by filmmaker Houda Benyamina (Divines), who directed two episodes of The Eddy.

Netflix will also continue working with film school La Femis to support an 11-month full-time training course. The streaming giant also pledged to continue its work with the Gobelins animation school, funding four-year scholarships for five students as part of their Master of Arts in Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking.