Endemol Shine’s ‘Caliphate’ Breaks All-Time Records on SVT Play

John Hopewell

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Now Netflix title “Caliphate,” produced by the Endemol Shine-owned Swedish production company Filmlance, has smashed all-time viewing records on Sweden’s SVT Play, the catch-up VOD service of public broadcaster SVT, Endemol Shine Group confirmed Wednesday.

“Caliphate” was made available globally on Netflix on March 18.

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The biggest success ever on SVT Play, Endemol Shine said, “Caliphate” bowed on SVT on Jan. 12 where it is already known to have attracted an average of over 600,000 adult viewers during its first month on Play, a record for the streaming service.

SVT figures at the time, published by the Nordisk Film & TV Fond newsletter, also underscored a clear shift from linear to online in the Swedish public as more episodes of the series were released.

That can be put down to “Caliphate” itself. On one hand, it is an edge-of-the-seat thriller, turning on the excruciating daily danger suffered by a young Swedish mother, Pervin, who is desperate negotiating safe passage out of Syria for herself and her baby with the Swedish intelligence services while remaining married there to Raqqa-based IS member Hasum, a Muslim Swede.

On the other, “Caliphate” cuts back to Sweden to show the involved mechanisms and social context which allows a man known as The Traveller, a student’s assistant in Sweden, to recruit a team there with backup from IS in Syria. That team includes two female students, 15-year-old Sulle and friend Kerima. Events look set to build to some kind of terrorist suicide bomb attack on Swedish soil. The ready recruitment of young Swedes to the ISIS cause lies at the heart of the drama.

An eight-part series, “Caliphate” is based on an idea by Wilhelm Behrman, who created the series together with Nikolas Rockström. Directed by The Guldbagge awarded director Goran Kapetanovic (“My Aunt in Sarajevo”), the series marks Behrman and Rockström’s follow-up to underworld crime thriller “Before We Die,” a big hit on SVT.

“Caliphate” is produced by SVT, Filmlance and Film Capital Stockholm.

“There is always a great desire for strong and engaging stories and ‘Caliphate’ also has a strong current connection to our time,” said Tomas Michaelsson, producer for Filmlance.

He added: “The complex subject has not only been an audience favorite but also sparked great debate here in Sweden and we are incredibly proud that this show is now available to a global audience on Netflix.”

“It is clear that ‘Caliphate’ is a riveting series that grabs the attention of viewers and makes them want to talk about and discuss, engaging in depth about the multifaceted topic. All these discussions, opinions and debate have broadened the audience and increased interest in watching the series,” added Anna Croneman, program director for drama at SVT.

As the international drama series outside the U.S. and U.K. become a focus of ever greater production interest on the part of large studio-owned and independent groups, the Endemol Shine Group’s own scripted footprint is growing year on year with 92 dramas airing last year, 69 of which were non-English dramas, ESG said Wednesday, citing  titles such as “Beforeigners” (HBO Europe), “Matadero” (Antena 3) and “Queens” (Hot).

Overseen by Lars Blomgren, Endemol Shine’s network of labels take in a wide range of award-winning labels in Europee and the Middle East including Filmlance (Sweden), Rubicon (Norway) and companies in Germany (MadeFor), Netherlands (NL Film), France (ES Fiction), Spain and Portugal  (Diagonal), as well as scripted teams in Italy, Israel, Poland, Russia, India and Finland.

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