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Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

Boris Horvat, AFP | The "Vallon des Auffes" harbour in the city Marseille.

Netflix, the US online video streaming giant, has announced it will produce a French-style “House of Cards” series as it prepares to launch in France in September.

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The company has commissioned an eight-episode television drama called “Marseille” about a cut-throat battle for the mayorship of France’s second largest city.

The series will tell a “tale of power, corruption and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the French port city," Netflix said in a statement.

“Marseille' stages a fight around revenge, animated by drug lords, politicians, unions and the political players of the city," it added.

While the company did not divulge the budget for “Marseille,” it has enlisted some of France’s brightest television and film talent for the project.

French director Florent Emilio Siri, the man behind the film “My Way” about singer Claude François, will direct the first two episodes.

Award-winning French writer Dan Franck has written the initial script.

“It will be a lot more Shakespearian [than the original House of Cards] because a lot of family vendettas will play into the intrigue,” producer Pascal Breton told Le Figaro daily. “There will be drama, tragedy, some explosions, but this is not an action movie.”

A centre of Mediterranean culture for centuries, the port city of Marseille is also infamous for endemic crime and political corruption.

Charm offensive

Netflix will launch in France on September 15, but breaking into the French market has been no easy task and it is a territory still littered with landmines for the video on demand (VOD) kingpin.

The group’s debut has caused controversy in a country deeply protective of its film and television industries.

Netflix's European headquarters are currently in Luxembourg, which will allow it to skirt quotas on the number of Francophone films it screens, as well as other streaming service rules.

Some in France also fear that Netflix will lure away subscribers from Canal+, the homegrown premium pay TV channel that also bankrolls many French-made films today.

The announcement of the series “Marseille” was likely a friendly overture to many of Netflix’s French naysayers.

“Netflix has given us the perfect opportunity to tell this story from a typical French point of view, by bringing together some of the country’s best scriptwriters and directors, and producing it entirely in France.”

Netflix will begin shooting “Marseille” in the spring of 2015, with broadcast slated for the end of the year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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