Netflix cashes in on Spanish flop 'Money Heist'
Ahead of Money Heist 5, we look back its journey from being a failure to a global success.Author : Priyanka Vinayak
Money Heist is a global phenomenon today. But what if I tell you it was a complete washout when it first debuted on screens? Money Heist is a show resurrected completely by fans. After Netflix acquired it, the streaming service infused new life into the show that initially could not go beyond its borders.
The show climbed in popularity to become Netflix's #1 show in many international markets and to rank in the top ten in nearly every global market. In April 2020, it was Netflix's most in-demand series. And with that came the announcement that Netflix would be producing new seasons and a whole new heist, this one even bigger than the first. So far, two new blocks of episodes have dropped, with another on the way. While the chess game unfolding between the thieves and the authorities has captivated the world, the behind-the-scenes story is almost as captivating.
Originally conceived as a limited-run series, Money Heist premiered to over four million viewers on the Spanish network Antena 3 as Casa de Papel (House of Paper). It sustained those numbers for the next few episodes, but then viewership plummeted. According to Money Heist head writer and producer Javier Gómez Santander, "Contrary to what it seems, the life of the series is a story of failure, Antena 3 cut the number of planned chapters." It was eventually canceled, and that would have been the end of the story.
Netflix picked up the show but without much fanfare. It kept it as just another of its properties without promotion or attention. The cast and creative team began looking for other jobs when suddenly, they started noticing their social media numbers increasing rapidly. On Netflix, Case de Papel, renamed Money Heist, had been exploding internationally, and seemingly overnight, the Spanish "failure" had become a global hit. Netflix quickly signed series creator Álex Pina to a wider deal and brought the gang back for another heist.
As mentioned above, Netflix is the key to this story of a hit series rising from the ashes. Shows have come back from the dead, some due to popularity found in syndication, others after being released on DVD. These other series were saved by faithful fans, but most of them cost more than $2, which was what Netflix paid for the rights to Money Heist.