How "Capitani" was purchased by Netflix

The series attracted over 1.5 million views when it was broadcast by RTL Capitani/Samsa Film

The series attracted over 1.5 million views when it was broadcast by RTL Capitani/Samsa Film

Luxembourg series “Capitani”, which already proved a hit when it was aired on RTL, will get a global release starting 11 February when it can be streamed on American platform Netflix.

Monday was obviously a special day for Luxembourg director Christophe Wagner. While the two episodes he directed for the Belgian series “Unité 42” were broadcast in the evening on French television network France 2, in the afternoon, news leaked on social networks that “Capitani”, the series he directed and co-wrote (with Thierry Faber and Eric Lamhène), will be available for streaming on Netflix from 11 February.

“We can say that it was really my day”, says the 46-year-old director. “How not to be proud to see ‘Capitani’ on such a platform! When you see where we started from, with the creation of this first dramatic series shot in Luxembourg in Luxembourgish”.

The RTL broadcast of the series a year ago attracted more than 1.5 million views.

A worldwide broadcast

The number of its followers is bound to grow even more in the coming weeks. The American giant has thus purchased the rights to season 1 for worldwide distribution. This represents a total of 190 countries and 200 million subscribers worldwide. Far, very far even, from the beginnings.

“Initially, we had in mind to produce a series that works on the Luxembourg market. This was not necessarily simple, as we were a bit of a pioneer,” explains Claude Waringo of Samsa Film, who co-produced “Capitani” with the help of Film Fund Luxembourg. “We were wondering how to attract the Luxembourg public and how to keep them on our side until the end of the last episode. In the cinema, we had already done that with the success of ‘Superjhemp Retörns' (Super Jëmp Returns). But television is different. So, when we saw the first audience figures, we were stunned. The mission was accomplished.”

That’s when another perspective entered the producer’s mind: to see bigger, internationally! “Belgium was a bit ahead of us in terms of series. And when we saw that French-speaking Belgian productions, such as “Unité 42” and “La Trêve”, managed to make their way to French television, or even Netflix for the second one, we said to ourselves: Why not us?”

Netflix, the first choice

A German television channel then took the steps to broadcast the Luxembourgish series “online”. But the production of “Capitani” already had another target in sight: the giant Netflix. No more and no less. “Usually, for a film, you go through a sales agent, a salesman, to distribute it internationally. The rather huge success of our series in Luxembourg has been a bit of a European tour among professionals. But here, we felt that the effort had to come from us. That nobody would really be interested in a 100% Luxembourg production”, said Waringo.

Netflix hadn’t seen “Capitani” before the producer travelled to Amsterdam to meet the platform’s chief buyer. “They took a look and decided that what we were offering apparently had enough qualities to join the big Netflix family.”

“When they said yes, it was a very strong emotional moment. I've been a producer for 30 years. I have accompanied films like “La Promesse” by the Dardenne brothers or “Une Liaison pornographique” by Frédéric Fonteyne in festivals like Cannes or Venice. But on a personal level, this announcement is the greatest moment of my career. We owe everything to the qualities of this series. I have the impression that I have helped Luxembourg cinema to move forward”.

Filmed entirely in Luxembourgish, the series which tells the story of the policeman Luc Capitani has already been dubbed for the occasion in French, German and English. And other languages are expected to follow.

Netflix’s director of acquisitions and co-productions Kai Finke said in a press statement that the series was “well done and exciting; although it is a local story, we're pretty sure it will resonate with an international audience as well. Great stories can really take place anywhere and I am delighted that our subscribers will soon be able to discover, for the very first time, a successful crime series made in Luxembourg!”

Netflix did not divulge how much it paid for “Capitani”.

Season 2 will start shooting in mid-March 2021 for a period of 12 weeks. While season 1 took place in the north of the grand duchy, season 2 will be filmed in Luxembourg City. It will be broadcast on RTL in February 2022.