Anyone who claims to have foreseen the huge, worldwide success of the Netflix series “Lupine” is probably doing a bit of revisionist history.
When the first installment of five episodes falls on January 8, the team of the program hopes that ‘Lupine’ will do well enough in his native France, where the title – a reference to a popular hero of the classic early 20th century. novels – would ring at least a bell, and where the star, Omar Sy, regularly picks up the polls of most popular celebrities.
“At first we were just focusing on finding a story that would resonate with our subscribers in France,” Damien Couvreur, head of the original series for Netflix France, said in a video chat. (Most of the interviews for this article were translated from the original French.)
But ‘Lupine’ exploded out of the gate and immediately became a worldwide phenomenon and eventually the most streamed non-English original Netflix. Now a new series of five episodes – Part 2, as Netflix calls it – has arrived and is available worldwide on Friday. For a program that shows modest expectations, the launch of the latest episode may be the TV event of the summer.
“Because you’re a British man, you just think, ‘I can believe that when I see it, you’d not want to be excited,'” creator and showrunner George Kay said of the success of Part 1. We have a very good balance around the world in terms of the response, which I think is quite unusual for Netflix shows, he added, pointing out the regional focus of many of the shows.
The 16-year-old Mamadou Haidara, who made his screen debut in the teenage version of His character, Assane Diop, in flashbacks, was just as surprised.
“I did not see any of it coming,” he said in a video chat outside his home in the Paris suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine. ‘I saw Twitter and Instagram go up and up – I loved it. I thought the series would do like any other series. But are you going nuts like that? I never imagined it. (It’s a safe bet that he did not imagine that Netflix would also start selling “Lupine” throw pillows.)
The fact that ‘Lupine’ has crept in and taken off with the planet’s screen time is quite fitting: after all, Assane learned from his literary hero, the astonishing ‘gentleman thief’ Arsène Lupine, that facial surgery may be the best way to eliminate unnecessary to avoid. attention. She illustrates the idea in a publicity stunt in January, in which he put up a poster for the series in a metro station in Paris – with a mask for Covid-19, but still.
An important asset to the show is that it is shamelessly family-friendly, which counted a lot at a time when many countries were in the lock and people were sitting at home.
“I was very moved to see my son and father watching something together,” says Clotilde Hesme, portraying Juliette Pellegrini, a cool elegant siren that tends to flirt with Assane. “I loved watching this kind of affluent family entertainment.”
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Couvreur, of Netflix France, said another of the strengths of the series is that it is not trying to erase the Gallic specifics. “This is how you create stories that travel the world: it’s real,” he said, referring to the Mexican series “Who Killed Sara?” and the German series “Barbarians” as other examples of Netflix programs anchored in local cultures and working in many countries.
Just as ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ boosted chess set sales, ‘Lupine’ has taken an interest in the original books of Maurice Leblanc, which has been in the public domain since 2012.
Hachette, the largest Leblanc publisher in France, contacted Netflix a few years ago after seeing a news story about the series. Cécile Térouanne, managing director of Hachette Romans, recalls that the streamer mastered the show and only shared screenshots of the Lupine book that Assane inherited from his father, Babakar (Fargass Assandé), and then passed it on to his own son , Raoul (Etan Simon).
“In January, we published an issue of ‘Arsène Lupine, Gentleman Thief’ with the same cover, like something people would have in their library,” Térouanne said in a video interview. “We did not know what to expect, so we printed 10,000 copies.” According to her, as of today, about 100,000 copies have been sold and 170,000 printed. “It shows no signs of stopping,” she added.
To coincide with the new episodes, Hachette re-publishes the Leblanc novel ‘The Hollow Needle’ – again, with the same basic cover design as Babakar’s book in the show, but in blue. “We were like, ‘This is great, we’re all going to do it! ‘, Térouanne said laughing. ‘But we can only use the Netflix brand for the first two. For now at least. She said sales were also increasing internationally as a Korean publisher showed interest in repeating the cover of the series, followed by homes in Italy, Spain, Poland and Portugal.
(A Netflix hit doesn’t automatically translate into book sales: the series “Unorthodox” did well in France, but Térouanne said Hachette sold about 6,000 copies of the Deborah Feldman memoir that inspired it, and about 4,000 electronic copies.)
It would not be surprising if the Lupine craze also drives tourism, now that travel is on the rise again. Some of the spectacle locations, such as the Louvre and Orsay museums, hardly need the extra crowds. But the coastal Norman city of Étretat has already seen an extra influx of people intrigued by the chalk cliffs and pointed rock formations, which Eric says play a central role in the Lupine myth and in the nail-biter that ends part 1 of the show. . Baudet from the local tourism office. Visitors can also go and see Leblanc is your home in Étretat, where he composed many of the Lupine stories; it is now a museum.
As for Kay, he has no time to wander around the French countryside. The author is working on a true series of crime series about Peter Sutcliffe, the 1970s serial killer nicknamed the Yorkshire Ripper. “It keeps the other half of my brain ticking and keeps me grounded in not getting too excited about big, big things,” he said.
But yes, Kay is also developing the next “Lupine” episode. “It was announced in a subtle way,” he said. ‘There were some Easter eggs and some clues buried. Part 3 will be a departure to a new series of adventures, and I want to bring back even more of the fun from the early episodes. ”