The international popularity of Germany’s “Babylon Berlin” shows no signs of abating.
Season 3 of the lavish historical crime drama, written and directed by Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries and Henk Handloegten, has sold in more than 35 countries, including China, where Lemon Tree Media nabbed the rights, and Brazil, where it was picked up by Blue Entertainment.
Produced by X Filme Creative Pool, ARD Degeto, WDR, Sky and Beta Film, “Babylon Berlin 3” is based on “The Silent Death,” the second novel by Volker Kutscher featuring detective Gereon Rath.
Netflix will continue streaming the show in the U.S., Canada and Australia, while Telefonica’s Movistar+ acquired it for Spain and Mediawan for France. NRK picked it up for Norway and Telenet for Belgium, while YLE took it for Finland and DR for Denmark.
Beta Film will premiere the first footage of the new season of “Babylon Berlin” at its traditional brunch at MipTV on Tuesday.
The series (pictured above in an exclusive photo) sees Rath this time investigating a mysterious death at a movie studio. He does so at a time when Germany is not only witnessing the end of the silent movie era but also growing political unrest. The series is currently shooting in and around Berlin and in North Rhine-Westphalia and is set to wrap production in May.
Actors Volker Bruch and Liv Lisa Fries return as Rath and savvy assistant Charlotte Ritter for the 12 new episodes, which will air in Germany on Sky at the end of 2019 and on ARD in the fall of 2020. The show will again air on Sky in the U.K. and Ireland.
Pay-TV operator Viasat will carry “Babylon Berlin” in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States, while HBO Europe airs it in Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, North Macedonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania.
Michael Polle, producer and head of TV at X Filme, spoke to Variety about the challenges and new direction of the upcoming season.
“What’s exciting is this world that we are creating, not just the world of silent film, but also the Berlin of 1929, with all of its historical events and situations,” Polle said. “With Seasons 1 and 2, we learned a few things, but the challenges are always the same: to make a historical series as authentic as possible on the streets of a city that no longer exists in that form and that we have to in part recreate.”
In addition to top-notch visual effects, the dedicated folks from the costume and art departments are indispensable in bringing historical Berlin back to life.
Most important is the work of the showrunners. “This show lives from the artistic vision of its three directors and their interpretation of Volker’s novels,” Polle said. Tykwer, von Borries and Handloegten worked on the series together years before it actually went into production, and the fact that the three are writers is a decisive factor, Polle added.
The first three episodes of “Babylon Berlin” were seen by an average 7.8 million viewers on ARD last year, achieving a 24.5% share and reaching a peak of 8.5 million. On Sky, it boasted the best ratings ever for a non-English series and was only beaten overall by the seventh season of “Game of Thrones.”
While serialized domestic shows have taken off in Germany in recent years thanks in large part to streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, they were still somewhat novel when “Babylon Berlin” premiered in 2017. A number of earlier series helped pave the way for season-long story arcs, among them ZDF’s critically acclaimed crime drama “KDD – Kriminaldauerdienst” (“KDD – Berlin Crime Squad”) – one of the first shows Polle worked on as a producer – which ran from 2007 to 2010.
“At that time it was extremely radical, but it nevertheless attracted 3 million viewers on average,” Polle added.