Bavaria Film’s powerhouse TV division boasts some of Germany’s hottest shows, and it is achieving worldwide success as it increases its focus on international co-productions.
Launched in 2007, Bavaria Fiction produces a wide range of scripted formats, from daily and weekly series to TV movies and lavish event productions, including Germany’s favorite cop show.
The company recently enjoyed a huge hit with “Das Boot,” which has sold to more than 100 territories around the world, including the U.S., where it streams on Hulu. Co-produced with Sky Deutschland and U.S. group Sonar Entertainment, the miniseries is a sequel to Wolfgang Petersen’s hit 1981 film and likewise based on the books of Lothar-Günther Buchheim.
“Das Boot” is the first major production to come out of Bavaria Fiction’s international TV unit. Launched three years ago, the department is headed by Moritz Polter.
Polter is overseeing a number of international co-productions, including “Freud,” a mystery-thriller co-produced with Satel Film for Netflix and Austria’s ORF, with ZDF Enterprises handling world sales. Other recent shows include “Arctic Circle,” a Nordic crime drama co-produced with Yellow Film & TV for Finland’s Elisa Viihde and YLE.
Interest among international producers in partnering with Bavaria Fiction has increased significantly in recent years, says Polter. While the company has regularly worked with neighboring partners in Europe, Polter notes that interest is noticeably higher in the Anglo-Saxon region.
“With the rise of internationally successful TV dramas from Germany, they are realizing that we have creative people, writers who can develop series that find recognition and audiences abroad. There is now more interest in working with German writers. We stand for quality. That was always the case and it will remain so. It’s not just about quality, however, but also about developed material that can be exploited internationally.”
While Bavaria Fiction produces primarily for German broadcasters, it is looking to create more local content for the streaming platforms, “and not just big international productions but also small international productions,” Polter adds.
Oliver Vogel, Bavaria Fiction’s chief creative officer, says such SVOD players as Netflix, Amazon and Deutsche Telekom “have not only increased the possibilities for us but also for the entire production landscape in Germany. We are very happy to be riding this wave. It’s a big opportunity for the entire German market.”
On the domestic front, Bavaria Fiction’s hit crime drama “Tatort Münster” (Crime Scene: Münster), featuring local stars Axel Prahl and Jan Josef Liefers, regularly attracts more than 13 million viewers, making it by far the country’s most watched 90-minute scripted format. The company likewise produces “Tatort Köln” (“Crime Scene: Cologne”) and “Tatort Dortmund” (“Crime Scene: Dortmund”) as well as other successful long-running shows such as “The Rosenheim Cops” and daily soap “Storm of Love.”
Bavaria Fiction also specializes in high-end miniseries and big-event productions for the domestic market.
Heinrich Breloer’s “Brecht,” which stars both Tom Schilling (“Never Look Away”) and Burghart Klaussner (“The People vs. Fritz Bauer”) as the famed playwright at different stages in his life, premieres at this year’s Berlin Film Festival before debuting on pubcasters Arte and ARD in March. Also coming this year is ZDF’s “Bella Germania,” a miniseries that chronicles the story of Italian immigrants in Germany from the 1960s to the present day.