Power, corruption, redemption. All in one major city. It might sound like House of Cards, but that’s exactly the plan for Netflix’s new TV series, Marseilles. Set against the rich backdrop of the port city, the show is the first Netflix original French production.
Marseille will debut exclusively in late 2015 and focuses on Robert Taro, mayor of the city for 25 years. The coming elections have him face the man he chose as his heir, an ambitious youngster aiming high. Both candidates will fight mercilessly, as Marseille stages a fight around revenge, animated by drug lords, politicians, unions and the political players of the city.
Shot entirely in France, Marseille is announced by the Internet TV company just as it plans to enter France later this year. Coincidence? Frank Underwood wouldn’t say so – and neither, you suspect, would Taro. Netflix is now looking to create content to match its expanding, global audience. With House of Cards’ storming success becoming something of a mission statement for Netflix, its quality backed by David Fincher and Beau Willimon, it’s no surprise that they should attempt the same for their France debut – right down to the talent behind the camera.
Marseille is created and written by Dan Franck, writer of La Séparation and Les Hommes de l’ombre and co-writer of Carlos, which won a Golden Globe for best miniseries. Directing the first two episodes of Marseille will be Florent-Emilio Siri, director of the Cesar-nominated theatrical hit Cloclo, alongside Sundance Award-winning filmmaker Samuel Benchetrit (“J’ai toujours rêvé d’être un gangster”). In the producer’s chair? Pascal Breton of Paris-based Federation Entertainment, who was behind the hit French series Dolmen and Sous le Soleil.
The creative team are certainly relishing the chance to create a TV series backed by Netflix’s resources and platform, particularly given the differences between the American and French film industries.
“Movies today sacrifice a lot to almighty pacing and often lose the essential: the characters. Current TV series do exactly the opposite, they stretch time and work characters in depth with all their complexities and contradictions. That’s what makes for their success,” comments Florent-Emilio Siri.
“The movie business in France today confines itself to comedy or what is called ‘author cinema.’ TV series give movie directors the potential of a new opportunity to be able to explore and express their talents within the full extent of their art. This is why I’m really eager to work on Marseille.”
“Creating a series for an enormous audience and without any constraints will let us push to its limits a story about the Shakespearean theater of politics in a city where Alexandre Dumas and Jean-Claude Izzo, among others, have planted many spears,” adds Dan Franck.
“Netflix has given us a blank page to create a “House of Cards” in French that breaks through unspoken hypocrisy. This is a writer’s dream and a great opportunity for French producers and creators to enter a new world.”
Samuel Benchetrit agrees: “Working with Netflix is a great opportunity for artists and creators, it democratizes movies and series in France and globally.”
Production is expected to start in spring of 2015 with the series debut everywhere Netflix is available in late 2015.