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Netflix Nabs U.S. Rights to Tom Tykwer’s ‘Babylon Berlin’

Variety logo Variety 5/12/2017 Henry Chu
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Netflix has nabbed U.S. rights to “Babylon Berlin,” the eagerly awaited period crime series directed by Tom Tykwer, sources said Friday.

The 16-episode series, set in the sophisticated and seamy world of 1920s Berlin, is the most expensive TV drama in German history, with a budget of €40 million ($44 million). “Babylon Berlin” is produced by Sky Deutschland, ARD Degeto, X Filme and Beta Film.

The show has already sold to various European countries by Beta Film, which is handling worldwide rights. Jan Mojto, co-producer and CEO of Beta, said in February that a U.S. deal was “imminent.”

A spokesperson for Beta declined to comment Friday. Netflix also had no immediate comment on the deal, which was first reported by German trade website and confirmed by Variety.

Four years in the making, “Babylon Berlin” is now in post-production and is scheduled to premiere on Sky Deutschland in October and on German pubcaster ARD in 2018. Sky will also air the show in Britain and Italy.

The series is based on the bestselling novels by German author Volker Kutscher. It centers on Gereon Rath, a police inspector caught up in a web of drugs, sex, political intrigue and murder in go-go Berlin as Germany teeters on the edge of Nazism.

The show won the Screenings Grand Jury Prize for Works in Progress at MipTV last month.

“I’ve not been in such a long or intense production before,” the actor Volker Bruch, who plays Rath, told Variety recently. “We shot over seven months, almost every day, and there were so many layers to the story.”

For Netflix, the pickup of “Babylon Berlin” continues its push into buying and commissioning local-language content. Its first German original series, the mystery drama “Dark,” will be made available later this year.

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