‘Money Heist’ almost flopped: The story of how Netflix saved the show
Money Heist is an international phenomenon that truly took the world by surprise. We can’t get enough of Money Heist’s intricately planned heists, enthralling dramatic performances, and non-stop action.
Yet Money Heist’s beginning didn’t go according to plan and in its first season run, on Spanish TV, the show’s creators were certain it was going to be cancelled and that would be it. Perish the thought! But fortunately for the rest of the world, Netflix saw potential in Money Heist and scooped it up as part of their international content. Little did they know that soon, Money Heist would be the most viewed Netflix show in six countries.
Here is the story of Money Heist’s rise to glory and how Netflix became its knight in shining armor.
Money Heist – otherwise known La Casa de Papel – debuted on the Spanish broadcaster, Antena 3, in 2017. At first its start was promising as Money Heist drew record audience numbers for the first few episodes. Then people lost interest and things were not looking good for future seasons.
Money Heist screenwriter Javier Gómez Santander even noted when asked about the show’s start “Success? No, La Casa de Papel was a failure. Contrary to what it seems, the life of the series is a story of failure, Antena 3 cut the number of planned chapters.”
Santander & show creator, Alex Pina, mourned for Money Heist as they believed their show had more to offer than being cancelled before its time. But it looked like there was no hope and Santander even mentions he was already on the lookout for new projects.
Netflix to the rescue
Netflix decided to add Money Heist to its library on Netflix Spain in late 2017 and bought the show for two dollars. Yes, you read that right – dos dolares. Netflix put Money Heist on its site without any promotion and made the brilliant move of dropping the first two seasons together. Within two weeks people had sniffed it out and binged every last episode.
It took only four months for Money Heist to then grow into a worldwide hit. The creators were stunned by the reception and even more shocked when Netflix signed a global deal with them, ordered more seasons of Money Heist, and increased the show’s budget.
Money Heist catapulted its creators & cast to fame and made them into household names. Netflix revealed in August 2019 that Money Heist had gained more than thirty-four million subscribers and was the third most watched TV series that year.
Money Heist has gone on to receive awards for best screenplay, best production, best direction, three best actor wins, and a best drama series award at the 46th International Emmy Awards. Creator Alex Pina has also developed Netflix’s popular show, White Lines.
Quality, original content
It was a gamble for Netflix to pick up a struggling show like Money Heist but their investment paid off ten-fold. The streaming site has been smart with how they’ve handled the series, leaving the creative decisions to Pina and allowing him to produce Money Heist in smaller, more condensed parts.
Fans of the show have certainly appreciated the attention to detail & high quality content from the writing to the acting. Money Heist is a testament to how good a production can be when the focus is kept on quality not quantity and the show’s history also illustrates that failure is not always the end of the road.
Like its tumultuous plot, Money Heist wasn’t born without some dramatic ups & downs. If you want to know more about the making of the show, check out the documentary Money Heist: The Phenomenon on Netflix.