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Netflix grows investment in German originals

Netflix is ramping up its originals output in German-speaking markets with a number of series, movies, documentaries, comedies and stand-up formats.

Steffi Ackermann

The German Netflix team yesterday presented 13 new productions as part of a “content roadshow” event previewing its forthcoming output in the region.

Among the new titles is four-part series Terra Vision (working title), which will see author Oliver Ziegenbalg and director Robert Thalheim tell the story of the invention of the Google Earth algorithm.

The main cast includes Mark Waschke, Mišel Maticević, Lavinia Wilson, Leonard Scheicher and Marius Ahrendt and it will be produced by Andreas Banz, Kundschafter Film and Annie Schilling.

Elsewhere, Netflix is currently shooting the six-part series Kitz, described as a young-adult drama series with thriller elements, in Germany and Austria with Odeon Fiction.

Co-created by Niko Schulz-Dornburg and Vitus Reinbold, it is set in the decadent world of a Munich clique that comes to the luxury Kitzbühel ski resort every season to party.

The project is supported by the German Motion Picture Fund, FilmFernsehFonds Bayern and the Cine Tirol Film Commission.

In addition, Netflix has renewed Barbarians, a German historical action series set during the Roman period, for a second season. The series, produced by Gaumont Germany, is proving popular in Germany and internationally, Netflix said.

Steffi Ackermann, director of German original series, added that the streamer is planning a major new series with Jantje Frise and Baran bo Odar, creators of Netflix’s first German original, Dark.

Unscripted originals include comedy format Oliver Polak: Your Life Is a Joke, in which comedian Polak spends a day together with a celebrity guest and ‘roasts’ them afterwards, to be produced by Gillad Osterer and SEO Entertainment.

Others include Hazel Brugger: Tropical, a stand-up special about television, feminism and family from the California-born Swiss comedian; an as-yet-untitled project with YouTube entertainer Julien Bam from Georg Ramme and Load Studios in collaboration with Raw Mind Pictures; and Das Hausboot, a Tim Schäfer- and Kliemannsland-produced docuseries chronicling the restoration of Gunter Gabriel’s old houseboat by the artists Fynn Kliemann and Olli Schulz over two years.

“In terms of non-fiction, we are still in the beginning in Germany. That is precisely why we want to try out as much as possible and surprise our audiences courageous programme decisions,” said Jennifer Mival, manager of unscripted and docuseries.

The streamer is also pushing into German features, with seven new original films unveiled yesterday.

These include Blood Red Sky, which is based on the screenplay by Peter Thorwarth, who also directs, and marks Netflix’s second production in collaboration with Rat Pack following The Wave.

It follows a woman and her 10-year-old son who are on a night flight from Germany to New York when terrorists violently take control of the plane and threaten the lives of the passengers. However, the woman turns out to be a vampire.

Other forthcoming features include Munich, based on the international bestseller by Robert Harris, starring Jeremy Irons, George MacKay, Jannis Niewöhner and Sandra Hüller, which is set in 1938 with Europe on the brink of war.

Also in the pipeline is the previously announced prequel to Army of the Dead, produced by Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder and Wesley Coller from The Stone Quarry and Matthias Schweighöfer and Dan Maag from Pantaleon Films.

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