Since Netflix entered the Italian market in 2015, it’s steadily gained ground in terms of subscriptions, which are expected to reach 2 million by the end of 2019, according to independent analyst Ovum. The streaming giant recently announced a €200 million ($222 million) investment in Italian original productions over the next three years. Variety spoke to Felipe Tewes, director of international originals at Netflix, about how the country compares with other European territories.
Is Netflix’s investment in Italy likely to grow going forward?
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Since our arrival in Italy over three years ago, we have invested significantly in local TV productions, with shows such as “Suburra: The Series” and “Baby,” and in bringing Italian films such as “Sulla Mia Pelle” (On My Skin) and “Lo Spietato” (The Ruthless) to the world. … Our investment announcement is a clear sign of our strong commitment to the Italian creative community, and our desire to continue bringing local, made in Italy stories to a global audience. We already have several creative TV projects in the pipeline and my colleagues who focus on films are making a concerted effort to invest in more local film productions. We are all always considering new local projects, both on the TV and film front. Historically, one country and language has dominated the global entertainment culture, but we see that shifting, and our efforts in Italy are a key piece of the overall Netflix commitment to bringing great stories from across the world to the world.
How does the investment, and also the scope, of Netflix’s TV production activity in Italy compare with other European territories?
We are passionate about working more and more with Italian creators. We are finding very exciting visions and projects as we speak with producers and storytellers in Italy, and so far the great responses to “Baby” and “Suburra: The Series” only confirm the potential for … made in Italy shows. Next year we will launch six new seasons, a sign of our excitement for Italian content, and comparable to other major European countries. We have, in Italy, highly original and well-executed shows coming, and hope the shows will be enjoyed in Italy and beyond, motivating us to continue to invest more in telling Italian stories. The talent and the ideas are there to continue to find great shows.
There is quite a wide range of Netflix Italian TV originals. What’s in the Italian pipeline at the moment and what is the underlying philosophy and strategy of Italian commissions?
We have truly unique and creatively ambitious shows in production in Italy. From the bold, exciting vision of the team of “Luna Nera,” which uses the frame of the fantasy genre to say something that will connect with audiences today; to the characters and setting of “Zero,” which creates something in the superhero genre space never seen before in a series in Italy; to the mind-bending high concept of “Curon”; to the sensual and thought-provoking exploration of relationships of “Fedeltà” [in development] to the refreshing view on first love of “Summertime” to the continued visions of “Suburra: The Series” and “Baby.” What ties these shows together is a specific, passionate point of view of the creators — who range from first-time creators to proven, seasoned ones — and genres that we feel can help the shows find their audiences, in Italy and beyond. As we continue to diversify the slate, we’ll explore other genres such as period romance, comedy, and others. We want to find an array of exciting visions that will connect with different audiences in Italy and beyond.