Netflix’s Sarandos Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Service’s First Original Series ‘Lilyhammer’

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos Feb. 6 celebrated the 10th anniversary of the service’s first original series.

“Our actual first original series was ‘Lilyhammer’ and today, Feb. 6, marks the 10th anniversary of its historic Netflix premiere,” Sarandos wrote in a blog. 

Sarandos recalled the history of the series’ origin in a blog and video with the show’s star Stevie Van Zandt.

“A seminal moment in Netflix history began in a recording studio by the North Sea,” he wrote in the blog. “Bergen is where Norwegian creators Eilif Skodvin and Anne Bjørnstad approached Stevie Van Zandt about a show they wrote for him set in a small Norwegian town called Lillehammer. A few months later, having heard that Netflix was looking for original content, I got a call directly from Stevie, who wanted to send us the series. I asked if we could read the scripts and Stevie said, ‘Scripts? I can send you the whole season.’

“We watched it and we loved it. I thought it was a classic fish-out-of-water story, with Stevie playing a role loved by audiences, and the interplay between his no-nonsense hitman Frank Tagliano and the gentle community around him made for some great comedy. It was a character that was so familiar in a culture that few audiences had seen. I wasn’t sure what would come from that first phone call with Stevie. I was (am) a huge fan of his music and I loved him in ‘The Sopranos,’ so I was happy just to get to talk to him for a few minutes.”

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Van Zandt wasn’t initially excited about Netflix’s release of the series all at once, Sarandos recalled.

“When I told him that we would not be showing the episodes one per week, we would deliver the entire season all at once, that stopped him in his tracks,” Sarandos wrote. “‘You labor and suffer and someone can watch a year of your work in one night? That sounds a little weird,’ he said. ‘It’s not weird,’ I told him. ‘It’s just like working on an album.’ He laughed and agreed. ”

After first airing on Norwegian broadcast TV NRK on Jan. 25, 2012, Netflix debuted “Lilyhammer” on Netflix on Feb. 6, 2012, offering all eight episodes to members in the United States, Canada and Latin America (followed by the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Nordics later that year).

“This was the first time we streamed a show across multiple countries and languages … and it worked,” Sarandos wrote. “Looking back, ‘Lilyhammer’ was perhaps an unorthodox choice for our first show. But it worked because it was a deeply local story that we could share with the world. The jokes and references worked locally and the more universal themes of the shows traveled perfectly.” 

Sarandos noted that “Lilyhammer” paved the way for Netflix’s success with international content.

“Thank you ‘Lilyhammer’ and Stevie Van Zandt for starting this incredible 10-year journey,” Sarandos wrote.


Netflix Announces Two Production Facilities in South Korea

Netflix announced the establishment of two production facilities in Paju-si and Yeoncheon-gun, just outside of Seoul, in Gyeonggi Province, Korea.

At YCDSMC — Studio 139, the company will lease six stages and supporting spaces of approximately 9,000 square meters. At Samsung Studio, it will lease three stages of approximately 7,000 square meters.

From 2015 to 2020, Netflix’s investment in Korean content reached $700 million, with more than 80 shows made in Korea and watched by audiences around the world, according to the company. ​

“These two facilities are another important example of our continued commitment to investing in Korea’s creative ecosystem,” read a Netflix statement.

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Netflix is planning to support the production of upcoming Netflix Korean original series and films at the new spaces including the Korean adaptation of “La Casa de Papel.”

“Netflix is thrilled to deepen its investment in Korea, as well as Korean Films and Series,” Netflix VP of studio operations Amy Reinhard said in a statement. “With these new studios, Netflix is better positioned than ever to increase our production of great stories from Korea while also providing a wealth of production-related jobs for talented professionals in Korea’s creative community.”

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Members from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Qatar, UAE, India and watched the recently released Netflix Korean original series “Sweet Home”; while Korean shows such as “Kingdom Season 2,” “The King: Eternal Monarch,” “Start-Up” and “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” were amongst the most popular TV series in Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and beyond, according to the service.

Korean-made stories currently in production or development include “Move to Heaven,” “Kingdom: Ashin of the North,” “Silent Sea,” “Squid Game,” “Hellbound,” “All of Us are Dead” and “D.P.”

Netflix to Bow ‘Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness’ Anime Series Based on Games

Netflix in 2021 will release an original anime series, “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness,” based on the “Resident Evil” games.

The horror-action series, centered on the stories of the two popular characters, Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, will be produced and supervised by Capcom’s Hiroyuki Kobayashi, who is responsible for bringing out numerous titles in the “Resident Evil” series.

TMS Entertainment, which has birthed various anime series, will produce the series, while Quebico, led by Kei Miyamoto, the producer of Resident Evil: Vendetta, will be in charge of 3DCG animation production.

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With the first game released in 1996 on Sony PlayStation, the “Resident Evil” series is nearing its 25th anniversary.

Netflix Mounts Game Competition for ‘Immortal’ Account to Promote ‘The Old Guard’

To celebrate the release of the Netflix action film The Old Guard, starring Charlize Theron, Netflix has announced a nationwide U.S. competition for an “Immortal” Netflix account (1,000 months of subscription, or 83 years).

Consumers can win the account by obtaining the highest score in an original The Old Guard video game (, where they play as a Labrys-wielding immortal and defeat hordes of enemies.

The competition will be held for three days, July 17, 18 and 19. Whoever reigns as No. 1 once at the end of the three days get the “Immortal” account.

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The Old Guard video game

The Old Guard, based on a graphic novel by Greg Rucka, is a Netflix original film that follows a covert team of noble mercenaries. When their mysterious inability to die is suddenly exposed, they must fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered. The film stars Charlize Theron who plays Andy (or Andromache of Scythia), one of the oldest and most seasoned immortals on a mission to save her crew. The film also stars Kiki Layne and is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.

The Old Guard debuted on Netflix July 10.

Report: Netflix Captured 62.6% of Global Demand for Originals in Q2

Netflix’s original series commanded more audience demand in the second quarter of 2019 than originals of any other streaming platform in the world, according to Parrot Analytics’ second quarter Global TV Demand Report.

With 62.6% of global demand for digital original series, Netflix is the leader. Still, its global market share was down 3.1% from its Q1 result of 64.6% and down 9% from its 2018 71% full-year result.

Parrot Analytics, the leading television data analytics firm focused on gauging trends and demand for content around the world, examined the demand share for global SVOD platforms, digital original series popularity, and the market-specific genre demand shares in Q2 2019 in its Q2 Global Television Demand Report. The report features market-specific analyses including the United States, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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“With Netflix taking the lion’s share of global demand for its original series, it’s not surprising that in the second quarter of this year the service continues to lead in the drama genre for most markets,” commented Samuel Stadler, VP of marketing, Parrot Analytics, in a statement. “’Lucifer’ has come out on top in six markets examined and ‘Stranger Things’ was the most in-demand digital original in the U.S. and South Korea for Q2. We expect ‘Stranger Things’ will have a sizable impact on overall platform demand for Netflix in the U.S. and other key markets in the third quarter.”

Sci-fi dramas were the most in-demand in half of the markets analyzed, while superhero, crime dramas and comedy dramas also showed increased demand, respectively, across all 10 markets, according to the report. In the popular action/adventure genre category, DC Universe originals beat out Netflix originals in demand share in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Taiwan.

Netflix Renews ‘Stranger Things’ for Fourth Season, Inks Deal With Creators the Duffer Brothers

Netflix has renewed the series “Stranger Things” for a fourth season and has signed series creators and showrunners the Duffer brothers to a multi-year film and series overall deal.

“The Duffer brothers have captivated viewers around the world with ‘Stranger Things and we’re thrilled to expand our relationship with them to bring their vivid imaginations to other film and series projects our members will love,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos in a statement. “We can’t wait to see what the Duffer brothers have in store when they step outside the world of The Upside Down.”

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The Duffer Brothers

“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our relationship with Netflix. Ted Sarandos, Cindy Holland, Brian Wright, and Matt Thunell took a huge chance on us and our show — and forever changed our lives,” said the Duffer brothers in a statement. “From our first pitch meeting to the release of ‘Stranger Things 3,’ the entire team at Netflix has been nothing short of sensational, providing us with the kind of support, guidance, and creative freedom we always dreamed about. We can’t wait to tell many more stories together — beginning, of course, with a return trip to Hawkins!”

“Stranger Things” is a Netflix Original Series about mysterious happenings in a small town. The Duffer brothers serve as executive producers on the series alongside Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps Entertainment and Iain Paterson.

Netflix to Produce Danish Series Based on Novel From Creator of ‘The Killing’

Netflix will produce its second Danish original series, “The Chestnut Man,” based on the debut novel by writer Søren Sveistrup (“The Killing”).

The series will debut exclusively on Netflix worldwide. Production is slated to begin in Denmark in 2020 with the executive production team SAM Productions, which is also behind the coming Norwegian Netflix original series “Ragnarok.”

Netflix made the announcement at the Copenhagen TV Festival.

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“The Chestnut Man” is set in the quiet suburb of Copenhagen, where the police make a terrible discovery one October morning. A young woman is found brutally murdered in a playground and one of her hands is missing. Above her hangs a small man made of chestnuts. The ambitious young detective Naia Thulin is assigned to the case, along with her new partner, Mark Hess. They soon discover a mysterious piece of evidence on the chestnut man — evidence connecting it to a girl who went missing a year earlier and was presumed dead — the daughter of politician Rosa Hartung.

“Netflix has shown a strong, genuine interest in my book and I’m excited about the deal and confident that Netflix will be the perfect place for ‘The Chestnut Man,’” said Sveistrup in a statement.

“We are looking very much forward to bringing Søren’s amazing international bestseller to the screen, and we are very excited and proud to announce the continuation of our good collaboration with Netflix,” said Meta Louise Foldager Sørensen, executive producer at SAM Productions, in a statement. “The novel has been translated into 28 languages and it’s being published in more than 50 countries, we are therefore thrilled to be able to release this original Danish story, in the Danish language, worldwide with Netflix as our partner.”

“After the success of ‘The Rain,’ we are excited to announce our next Danish Original which will be building on the great tradition of Nordic Noir,” said Tesha Crawford, director Netflix international originals Northern Europe. “We were instantly compelled by the strong story and Søren’s voice. We are happy to continue the collaboration with SAM Productions and are looking forward to bringing ‘The Chestnut Man’ to our global audience.”

“The Chestnut Man” is a character-driven thriller drama and has its roots in the Nordic noir genre. The series is composed of six, 50-minute episodes. The launch date is yet to be announced.

Netflix Orders ‘The Sandman’ Series Based on Neil Gaiman Comics

Netflix has ordered 10 episodes of the Warner Bros. Television series “The Sandman” based on Neil Gaiman’s DC comic book series.

A blend of modern myth and fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are interwoven, “The Sandman” follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the Dream King, as he mends the cosmic — and human — mistakes he’s made during his vast existence.

The writer/showrunner/executive producer will be Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman, “Grey’s Anatomy”) with Gaiman (Good Omens, Coraline) and David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, “Krypton”) writing and executive producing. Gaiman, Heinberg and Goyer will co-write the first episode.

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“We’re thrilled to partner with the brilliant team that is Neil Gaiman, David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg to finally bring Neil’s iconic comic book series ‘The Sandman ’ to life onscreen,” said Channing Dungey, VP of original series at Netflix, in a statement. “From its rich characters and storylines to its intricately built-out worlds, we’re excited to create an epic original series that dives deep into this multi-layered universe beloved by fans around the world.”

Netflix Announces a Series of Features, Including Lin-Manual Miranda’s Directorial Debut

Netflix June 19 announced several features for its upcoming slate, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut.

Tony, Grammy, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, lyricist and actor Miranda (Hamilton) will direct Imagine Entertainment’s film adaptation of Tick, Tick … Boom!, to which Netflix has acquired worldwide rights. Tony Award winner Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen, Fosse/Verdon) will adapt the screenplay based on the original stage show by the late Rent (Pulitzer Prize winner for drama in 1996) creator Jonathan Larson.

Set in 1990, Tick, Tick…Boom! tells the story of Jon, an aspiring theater composer who is waiting tables in New York City while writing Superbia — which he hopes will be the next great American musical and finally give him his big break. Jon is also feeling pressure from his girlfriend Susan, who is tired of continuing to put her life on hold for Jon’s career aspirations. Meanwhile, his best friend and roommate Michael, has given up on his creative aspirations for a high-paying advertising job on Madison Avenue and is about to move out. As Jon approaches his 30th birthday, he is overcome with anxiety — wondering if his dream is worth the cost.

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Netflix also announced the live action family movie The Main Event, set to premier on the service in 2020. It’s based on an original screenplay by Larry Postel, directed by Jay Karas and produced by WWE Studios’ Richard Lowell. WWE Studios is WWE’s multi-platform content division that develops and produces scripted and non-scripted series, documentaries and feature films.

The film follows an 11-year-old aspiring wrestler who, after discovering a magical mask, enters a competition to become the next WWE superstar. It stars Seth Carr (Black Panther), Tichina Arnold (The Neighborhood, “Everybody Hates Chris”), Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project”) and Ken Marino (The Other Two, Black Monday, Bad Milo), alongside WWE superstars Kofi Kingston, The Miz and Sheamus, among others.

Netflix will adapt August Wilson’s play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom into a feature film starring  Academy Award winner Viola Davis (Widows, Fences), Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up, Black Panther), Emmy Award winner Glynn Turman (“How to Get Away With Murder”), Tony and Olivier Award Nominee Colman Domingo (If Beale Street Could Talk), and Michael Potts (Show Me a HeroTrue Detective). Academy Award winner Denzel Washington (who starred with Davis in the feature adaptation of Wilson’s Fences), Academy Award Nominee Todd Black and Dany Wolf will produce.

The story follows Ma Rainey, the “Queen of the Blues.” While making a record in a studio in Chicago, 1927, tensions boil between her, her white agent and producer, and bandmates.

Finally, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis (Five Feet Apart and The Curse of La Llorona) are adapting the horror-fantasy children’s book Nightbooks by J.A. White for Netflix. The story follows Alex, a boy obsessed with scary stories, who is trapped by a witch in her modern, magical New York City apartment. His original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping him safe as he desperately tries to find a way out of the twisted place.

Co-Writer of Disney’s Oscar-Winning ‘Coco’ to Oversee ‘Narnia’ Series for Netflix

Matthew Aldrich, co-writer of Disney’s Oscar-winning animated film Coco, will oversee the development and creative for Netflix’s upcoming live-action adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, the SVOD service announced.

Aldrich will work across both series and film and serve as a creative architect on all projects under the deal.

Aldrich most recently co-wrote Coco for Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and grossed more than $800 million worldwide.

Last October, Netflix and The C.S. Lewis Company announced a multi-year deal for Netflix to develop stories from across the “Narnia” universe into series and films for its members worldwide. All series and films produced through the deal will be Netflix productions, with Mark Gordon of Entertainment One (eOne) alongside Douglas Gresham and Vincent Sieber serving as executive producers for the series and as producers for the features.

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In total the “Narnia” books have sold more than 100 million copies and have been translated into more than 47 languages worldwide, according to Netflix.