The Day – “Money Heist” flopped on Spanish TV, but on Netflix it became a worldwide phenomenon

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At the premiere of “La Casa de Papel” as a two-part miniseries on Antena 3 in Spain in the spring of 2017, critics praised the pilot course, powerful premise and boundary-pushing plot. But by the time the second half premiered that fall, the excitement (and the number of viewers) had cooled enough to make the 15-episode series a virtual flop.

That would have been the end of “La Casa de Papel”, known in the United States as “Money Heist”, if it weren’t for Netflix, which picked up the series in late 2017, repackaged it into more episodes. short over two seasons, and commissioned a third and fourth installment. The show’s presence on the streaming platform, where the first half of its fifth and final season arrived earlier this month, has elevated “Money Heist” to a global cultural phenomenon that has inspired memes. , Halloween costumes and a very memorable line in a charts. Latin pop song.

“Money Heist” wasn’t Netflix’s first Spanish original (it would be “Club de Cuervos,” a Mexican comedy-drama released in 2015), but it was the first to find a decidedly international audience. Its popularity has prompted Netflix to invest in other series set in Spain, including the preschool thriller “Elite”, which caused a stir in 2018 and was renewed for a fifth season. “Money Heist”, due for release of its remaining five episodes in December, is rightly celebrated as the ancestor of other non-English-speaking hits, most notably “Lupine”, a French thriller and the Mexican thriller “Who Killed Sara?”

By all accounts, the show’s post-Netflix success surprised its cast and creator Álex Pina – not least because it launched with little promotional fanfare on the platform. In a 2020 Netflix featurette titled “Money Heist: The Phenomenon,” cast members including Jaime Lorente and Miguel Herrán recall noticing their Instagram subscriber numbers growing rapidly after the silent streaming debut of the movie. ’emission. It was the first of many signs that the series, which won an International Emmy for Best Drama in 2018, had resonated with audiences around the world.

After Part 3 arrived on the platform in 2019, Netflix said the new installment has been watched by over 34 million households, breaking a record for a non-English title. Last year, “Money Heist” became a first entry on Netflix’s Top 10 list, drawing 65 million viewers, more than the ubiquitous and controversial “Tiger King,” according to the streamer.

Netflix, which is selective about the measures it shares publicly, has not released information on how viewers perceive the series in Spanish – dubbed or via subtitles – but Álvaro Morte, who plays the The enigmatic ringleader known as The Professor, recently told Variety he realized the broad reach of the show after learning that some viewers had been tricked into overcoming the language barrier. “I heard that people all over the world started studying Spanish because of ‘Money Heist’, just because they wanted to hear our real voices,” he told the magazine. “You can’t help but be proud of this.”

Pop culture also reflects the influence of “Money Heist”, which has drawn a fan base including Stephen King, who enthusiastically donned a Salvador Dalí mask like the one thieves wear on his social media ahead of the third installment of series. After professing his love for “Money Heist,” Brazilian soccer star Neymar made an appearance in season three. Bad Bunny’s verses revealed the rapper’s affinity for the series: he famously screams Nairobi (Alba Flores) in “Yo Perreo Sola,” comparing the song’s fiercely independent protagonist to the fan-favorite thief. It also refers to the narrator of the Tokyo series, played by Úrsula Corberó, on the “Como Se Siente” remix with Jhay Cortez.

The heightened profile of “Money Heist” has helped bring the show’s cast to international acclaim, and several cast members have said they are increasingly inundated with autograph requests. In the Netflix special, Pedro Alonso, who plays the Berlin thief, recalled that the team had to stop filming in Italy because fans had invaded the place serving as the production site. The popularity of the show has also led to other visible roles: Last year, Corberó starred in the music video for “Un Dia (One Day)”, which features Bad Bunny alongside J Balvin, Dua Lipa and from producer Tainy.

As to why “Money Heist” failed on Spanish television, an expert told Variety it could have something to do with the country‘s late-night schedule; the first episode, for example, aired on Antena 3 following a Real Madrid game that started at 8:45 p.m. the magazine. “No matter how popular the show is, they almost always lose momentum.”

Momentum is exactly what “Money Heist” fans have in the show’s final season, despite delays related to the pandemic. Pina told Variety that he and the show’s writers went back to the drawing board at the start of the Season 5 episodes, writing “each one like they’re the season finale, with that kind of nerve and ditch. ‘energy”.

“This strategy has continued,” he added. “I think audiences will feel like almost every episode of Part 5 feels like a finale.”


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