Netflix to open Italian base in Rome

Netflix to open Italian base in Rome
The main Netflix headquarters in Los Angeles. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images North America/AFP
Streaming giant Netflix has announced it will set up an office in Rome to help expand its range of original Italian content.

The US subscription video service will open its first Italian base within the next few months, the company told Variety magazine. 

The move “will allow us to strengthen our many creative partnerships and work on a growing offer of movies and series made in Italy”, said Netflix's vice president of international originals, Kelly Luegenbiehl.

The company already has around 30 people working on its Italian service, but they are currently based in Amsterdam.

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Photo: Rai/HBO

The move follows reports that Italian prosecutors had opened an investigation into Netflix for suspected tax evasion, given that the service generates profits in Italy but has neither a headquarters nor employees here and pays its taxes elsewhere.

Since launching in Italy in 2015, Netflix is estimated to have attracted some 2 million subscribers by the end of 2019.

Its Italian originals include Suburra, an organized crime drama set in Rome's underworld, Baby, a teen melodrama inspired by a real-life underage prostitution scandal, On My Skin, a hard-hitting recreation of the final days of a young man who died in police custody, and The Ruthless, a mafia movie starring local A-lister Riccardo Scamarcio as a Milanese gangster.

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Next up for release are Black Moon, a period series about women accused of witchcraft in 17th-century Italy that debuts this week, Fedeltà ('Fidelity'), the story of a young couple wracked by suspicion based on the bestselling novel by Marco Missiroli, Curon, a supernatural drama about a 'drowned' village in South Tyrol, and Zero, the fantasy tale of a young second-generation Italian with superpowers.

Netflix has said it plans to invest €200 million in Italian productions by the end of 2021, calling Italy “a cradle of great storytellers and amazing talent”.

But Italian regulators have proved wary of the streaming service, with the last government introducing a new law that requires all Italian-made films to be shown in cinemas before they become available online. 

The so-called “anti-Netflix” rule is designed to protect Italian cinemas by giving viewers a reason to leave their sofas. In practice, though, all it means is that original movies like The Ruthless are given a fleeting release in movie theatres (three days, in this case) before making their way to Netflix a couple of weeks later.

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