At the headquarters of Netflix France, in the Opera district, in Paris, nothing suggests its rise. On three floors, the 2,500 square meters of this fourth European office are almost deserted. Health crisis obliges. However, in one year, the workforce has increased by half. In January 2020, during the inauguration by Reed Hastings, the founder of the group, 40 employees were mobilized for French content, partnerships and marketing. “At present, there are more than 60 of us,” said Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce, director of communications. The team dedicated to content has been reinforced with people from the seraglio, whose mission is to develop series, documentaries and films. And the pace picked up last year with no less than 20 original projects. Since the start of its activity in France in 2014, Netflix had produced 24, including six films and nine series. This year, around thirty projects are in the pipeline.
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And the successes are there. Released on June 9, Guillaume Perret’s action film Lost Ball was seen by more than 37 million people around the world in just one month. Unexpected figures
for a first feature film. Better. With Lupine, available since January 8, the platform estimates that 70 million people viewed the series in 28 days. It even climbed into the Top-4 in the United States on the day of its broadcast.
“This global craze is only possible thanks to the Netflix tool,” assures its director Louis Leterrier, who has worked for the platform for eight years. The French office took three years to develop this series, each episode of which cost just under 2 million euros. Or a budget equivalent to that of the Legends Office. “These successes allow France to shine internationally,” said one official.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director. “For me, there is as much cinema on Netflix as elsewhere. “ (J. Benaroch / Sipa)
In the 2021 calendar, several large-scale projects are announced, including the eagerly awaited Big bug by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the comedy by Dany Boon on confinement 8, rue de l’Humanité. Louis Leterrier does not hesitate to claim that “Netflix has changed cinema”. More choice for spectators, more projects for the audiovisual sector. “Everyone can win there”, continues the director of Lupine. Philippe Bailly, founding president of NPA Conseil, is more measured. Even if he recognizes that “the office of Netflix France is not a simple element of representation”.
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By inaugurating the subsidiary, Reed Has-tings estimated that in 2020 Netflix would invest more than 100 million euros in France. The year 2021 will mark “a significant increase” in these investments, anticipates Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce. From July 1, Netflix should even be more generous, with the application of the AVMS directive – audiovisual media services. Video sharing platforms will indeed have to invest 20 to 25% of the turnover they achieve in France in the production of French or European works. Or between 150 and 200 million euros every year, for Netflix, according to the Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot. By comparison, France Télévisions has pledged to invest 500 million in 2021.
To this is added a video tax which would have brought in 10 million to the CNC in 2018. Without giving further details, Netflix France confirms that it pays this tax to the tune of 5.15% of its turnover , which specialists estimate at nearly 1 billion euros in France for the year 2020.
The offers of the seven main video-on-demand platforms (Challenges)
The battle of the image
Behind the scenes, the American platform strives to integrate the heart of the French creative ecosystem. After receiving the support of the patron of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Frémaux, she continues to smooth her image. Partnerships are multiplying with players in the sector, such as Les Gobelins animation school or La Fémis. Over one year, Netflix France contributes 25,000 euros to the prestigious school’s program dedicated to series. And she added 30,000 euros to finance “La Résidence”, an eleven-month full-time course for four young self-taught directors from modest backgrounds. “This partnership is linked to Netflix’s desire to be part of the French cinema and audiovisual landscape, in which the platform has found its place,” said Nathalie Coste Cerdan, director of La Fémis.
Thierry Frémaux, general delegate of the Cannes Film Festival. We want to welcome Netflix as one of the new entrants in this profession. (L. Venance / AFP)
The most recent is the one established in January with the French Cinémathèque around the restoration of the Napoleon by Abel Gance. “We convinced Netflix to come to the rescue of one of the greatest masterpieces of cinema, welcomes Jean-Christophe Mikhaïloff, director of development of the Cinémathèque. This was far from being obvious for a platform that does not broadcast silent films and which relatively recently broadcasts so-called heritage films. “
Dany Boon, actor, director, producer. “Netflix worries me a lot… Something is missing: the ch’ti touch.” (Laurent Vu / Sipa)
Gradually, his image of the big bad wolf is fading. “This small world is slowly approaching,” he said. Additional proof? During his vows, the president of the CNC – now in turmoil – Dominique Boutonnat screened extracts from the restored film by Abel Gance. By 2023, Napoleon could even be broadcast on the platform. A world premiere for a silent film.