LOS ANGELES, December 3 – Netflix will release the last five episodes of its hit Spanish series on Friday Money theft which opened the door to other non-English series on streaming services.
Created by Spanish private network Antena 3, the thriller about a gang of thieves and their elaborate heists became Netflix’s most-watched series not in English after resuming the show in December 2017.
The plight of the robbers, who all carry code names for cities around the world, even hooked audiences in the United States, who were not used to dubbed shows at the time.
The New York Times hailed the series and its twists as a “ride of joy in every direction” while the Israeli newspaper Haaretz called it “seriously captivating”.
The red overalls and Salvador Dali masks sported by the show’s renegade gang members quickly became popular around the world at costume parties and street protests.
“This is the first non-English language series to become a global phenomenon,” said Elena Neira, professor of communication sciences at the Open University of Catalonia.
Thanks in part to the show’s success, Netflix and its competitors “realized they didn’t need to produce everything in the United States” to get a global audience, she added.
Netflix quickly scored big points with other series that aren’t in English, like the French thriller Lupine and South Korean Dystopian Drama Series Squid game which this year became the most watched series on the platform.
While the Money theft The script is “not revolutionary”, it tells “a very universal story, of the struggle between good and evil … with messages about the power of women, camaraderie and the need to rebel,” said said Neira.
Lupine shares many features of the show, such as the focus on a thief with “a certain moral aspect” who is “very intelligent,” she added.
Money theft was also fortunate enough to have been picked up by Netflix shortly after the Steam service went live in January 2016 in more than 130 countries, bringing its coverage to almost everyone except China.
Netflix’s recommendation algorithm also favors series like Money theft which end in a cliffhanger and are “very addicting,” said Alberto Nahum Garcia, professor of audiovisual communication at the University of Navarre.
“There was a kind of alignment of the planets at a time when the distribution got even more global,” he added.
Neira said the show also benefited from the US streaming giant’s willingness to invest heavily in dubbing and adding subtitles to shows in dozens of languages.
Launch pad for Spain
The worldwide success of Money theft has also given a huge boost to the Spanish audiovisual sector.
“It put the Spanish industry in a place where we never dreamed it could be,” series creator Alex Pina said on Tuesday at a press conference in Madrid to promote the second part of the fifth and final season of the series.
Netflix in 2018 signed a deal with Pina to produce new series and projects exclusively for the streaming giant.
And the following year, it opened its first European production center in Madrid, as part of a multi-million euro investment in Spanish-language content.
Money theft has shown that “stories can be created anywhere in the world and enjoyed anywhere in the world,” Netflix vice president of content for Spain and Portugal, Diego Avalos, told AFP.
Several “Money Heist” stars have become regulars on other Netflix shows.
Jaime Lorente, who plays the angry thief Denver, and Miguel Herran who plays the young hacker Rio, appear in the teenage drama Elite, another Spanish global success.
Netflix director Reed Hastings said it was “amazing” to see Spanish shows like Money theft and Elite “Winning the hearts of fans not only in Spain, but around the world”.
“Our goal is to be part of the Spanish creative ecosystem. We are investing for the long term, ”he added when the company’s production center opened in Madrid. – ETX Studio