MONEY HEIST: FROM SPANISH FLOP TO GLOBAL PHENOMENON
“La Casa de Papel”, known in the United States as “Money Heist,” was first premiered as a two-part miniseries on Spain’s Antena 3 in the spring of 2017. It was all about a criminal mastermind called ‘The Professor’ who gathered a team of specialists to pull off a daring heist at the Royal Mint of Spain. Initially, the crime-thriller attracted action Spanish interest with critics praising it for its fascinating pilot, strong premise and dynamic plot. But it couldn’t break the sophomore curse because when the second half premiered in the fall, viewership and enthusiasm had cooled enough to render the 15-episode series a virtual flop!
The unsuccessful outing of “money heist” on Spanish TV has however been attributed to the country’s late-night schedule. For example, the pilot episode premiered on Antena 3 following a Real Madrid game that kicked off at 8:45 p.m. “Episodes are often 100 minutes long and sometimes don’t start until 11:30 p.m.”, European TV scholar Christopher Meir told the variety magazine. “No matter how popular the show, they almost always lose momentum”, he added.
Apparently, “La Casa de Papel,” would have been dead and buried in one of the Spanish media archives if not for Netflix, which picked up the show at the end of 2017, modified it into shorter episodes across two seasons, and ordered a third and fourth instalment. The show’s presence on the streaming platform, where the first half of its fifth and final season arrived last Friday, elevated “Money Heist” into a global cultural phenomenon that has inspired memes, Halloween costumes and one very memorable line in a Latin pop song that has claimed the top spot in the global music charts.
“Money heist” wasn’t Netflix’s first Spanish-language original, (it was actually “Club de Cuervos,” a Mexican dramedy released in 2015), but it was the first to find an unequivocal international audience. The success recorded by the movie prompted Netflix to invest in other series set in Spain. The series also went on to win an international Emmy for best drama in 2018 and has resonated with audiences around the world, with the football star, Neymar, having revealed his interest in the show, made a cameo in the third part.
After Part 3 arrived on the platform in 2019, Netflix stated that the new instalment had been watched by more than 34 million households, breaking a record for a non-English titled movie. Last year, “Money Heist” became an early entry in Netflix’s Top 10 list, drawing 65 million viewers — more than the ubiquitous and controversial “Tiger King,” according to the streamer.
According to the producers, the fifth and final part of the series is divided into two parts; part one already dropped last Friday, September 3 and the second part will be dropping on December 3.
Surprisingly, the first part of Money Heist’s 5th season isn’t turning out as audiences might expect, but it has been tagged as largely thrilling and exciting. However, Fans’ expectations are getting slashed, new characters now rule the scenes while the favourites are being sacrificed. And more significantly, it has all gone beyond robbery, it is now war because the guns and grenades from a battlefield have found their way into the bank, all ready to take on the army. The Indian Express described it as “an intense battle of survival and a tearful goodbye to a loved one”.
As we get immersed in the fifth part of this gripping action crime-thriller, let us take a look at some interesting facts about the series:
1. The original title of the movie was not “La casa de papel”, a Spanish language which translates in English to “the house of paper”. The creator of the show, Alex Pina, had wanted the show to be christened Los Desahuciados which is translated as “The Outcasts”. His choice for this title was based on the fact that it would fit all the characters since they are all misfits and outcasts of some sort. After much deliberations, they stuck with la casa de papel as the first scene showed characters robbing a bank which is essentially a “paper house”
2. Tokyo was the first character to be named. The story behind her name is simple but rather amusing; the show’s producer, Jesus Colmenar, revealed that Alex Pina, the show’s creator arrived at work while wearing a shirt with the word ‘Tokyo’ on it. This inspired him to name the character Tokyo.
3. Initially, the producers of the show had wanted to shoot at the Royal Mint of Spain, however, they didn’t get permission to use the place and were left with the alternative of using similar-looking buildings. Initial scenes were shot at the Spanish National research council after which studio settings and effects, were applied.
4. To make the show look real, creators consulted the national police, the Spanish ministry of interior on bank robbery protocol and advice on law and order.
5. Banknotes used in the show were authorized by the bank of Spain. As an anti-counterfeit measure, the size of the banknotes used for the show was increased.