Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) has risen the ranks as Netflix’s most popular show, but if you’ve watched the series, it’s not entirely a surprise. The Spanish-language series is one of the streaming service’s best offerings filled with charismatic characters, wit, plot twists, and passion. However, it wasn’t always a Netflix Original, and the worldwide success has been an unexpected albeit pleasant turn of events for the creators, writers, and cast.
The Netflix documentary “Money Heist: The Phenomenon (La Casa de Papel: El Fenomeno)” explores what makes the show such a thrilling addiction that has resonated with people all over the world.
What I found most interesting is that the series broke down everything that went into creating this world, these characters, and a storyline that captivates audiences. In the same way that the Professor could anticipate every move that would be executed by the police, the creators of the series have been able to tap into what audiences will connect with, what they want to see, and what will make this their favorite series.
Here are some of our favorite fun facts from the documentary — SPOILERS from all seasons ahead:
1. The show was a flop
It’s honestly hard to believe that Money Heist didn’t find immediate success in Spain considering how good the series is. According to the documentary, the series started off strong with 4.5 million viewers, but with each passing week, viewership waned until it was down to 2 million.
For that reason, the series was canceled by Spanish channel Antena 3, which explains why season 2 had such a satisfying and fitting ending. Everything was wrapped up with the idea that the series was over and done with. And then Netflix came along and added to series to its list of programming.
Here’s where you learn about the power of word of mouth — Netflix didn’t promote the series at all but somehow (and rightfully so), it began picking up steam. People from all over the world began to discover just how brilliant the Professor was; they connected with a rogue group of robbers on a personal and intimate level. Eventually, Money Heist became the second most-watched series next to Netflix’s mainstay Stranger Things, and, of course, the streaming service was ready to capitalize by reviving the series and proposing the show creators another season. The rest, is, well, history.
In fact, the series is the most viewed Netflix series in France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Portugal.
2. They consulted real-life experts to make things very realistic
Money Heist doesn’t half-ass anything because the world is so far-fetched that it has to feel real. And it does. You’re completely enveloped in every aspect of the Professor’s plan and often find yourself wondering, “how are they going to pull that off?” The team putting together the series felt the same way and thus, when it came down to plotting how they are going to infiltrate high-security places and what they’re going to be stealing, they decided to consult the real-life experts to get the answers.
Personally, I was in awe of how technical the second heist was from removing the gold from the underwater vault and melting it down. The research included hiring a marine engineer to help with the construction of the antechamber that it used to go into the vault and remove the gold.
When it came to the melting down part, a father-and-son metalworker duo served as advisers on how to properly melt down 90 tons of gold into little pellets that could easily (we use that term loosely) be smuggled out. The experts were even used as extras to ensure the process was done correctly. The only difference is that they used copper instead of gold in the scene since it’s cheaper!
3. There’s a lot of movie magic
You didn’t actually think they used real gold in the underwater scenes, right? There’s plenty of movie magic that goes into bringing the world of Money Heist to life, and a lot of it is fixed in post-production. Take for example the gold, which was just styrofoam coated in a gold color that began to concave after being submerged in water and needed to be edited piece-by-piece, frame-by-frame.
However, there are elements that are truly crafted in a way that keeps everyone on their toes. The team built a set that they then submerged underwater so it would look realistic and make it seem like water was rising once they broke in.
The scene where the blimp flies over Spain at the kickstart of the second heist and all the money falls from the sky really happened, though, it wasn’t real money falling onto hundreds of extras — that would require production to stage an actual heist. The scene may have been minor, but it was necessary to get it just right in order for it to have the desired effect, which meant collecting and throwing the money over and over for several takes as the crew struggled to get it to fly in the right director. Eventually, it began raining and the paper money began melting. Moral of the story is that things go wrong just like in the Professor’s carefully crafted plan.
And the boat scene where the gang reached international waters was not filmed on a chilly and gloomy day. In fact, it was shot during a scorching hot day in the Philippines and everyone was sweating and ready to pass out from the heat. They pulled it off, right!?
4. They take risks
The idea of “no risk, no reward” definitely comes into play here. When you watch the series, you’re constantly on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next, if the plan will go off without a hitch, and what obstacle will come crashing down on the team. The thrill is a product of the cast and crew’s desire to keep you on the edge of your seat. They wanted to make a series that’s unpredictable, and the only reason to do that is to take big risks with every storyline and every character. We see that with their decisions to kill off beloved main characters because it’s the only way to keep the storytelling authentic.
Which…. leads us right into this next point (see below)!
5. The show is written on the fly
There’s a general plan for the series but unlike the Professor’s carefully thought out and meticulous plans that anticipate every move, the series is written in the “heat of the moment.” That means that very few scripts are written in advance. The writer’s team is always working as the cast is filming to add in scenes, switch up dialogue, or change the direction of the series completely.
If you think about it, it’s kind of brilliant because not only are you unsure of what’s going to happen next since it leaves the actors in suspense, but it allows the characters to react authentically to what is happening.
Obviously, this requires everyone to have their head in the game at all times but also adds a lot of pressure and stress. The show creator Alex Pina says he wakes up and is terrified going into work everyday. Essentially, that’s the anxiety the robbers would be feeling in a real life heist.
6. It has some very famous fans
Plenty of celebrities have jumped into the red jumpsuits and joined the resistance including Stephen King and Brazilian soccer player Neymar, who was so obsessed with the series that he snagged a role in the series as a monk! Who would have thought?
7. The imagery is part of the resistance
When you think of Money Heist, there’s some imagery and symbolism that comes to mind including the red jumpsuits, the Dali mask, and, of course, Bella Ciao. There’s no way you watched the series and didn’t get the song stuck in your head for days on end.
Remember how I said show creators and writers knew what they were doing? Yeah, that was purposeful. The series uses the color red as it is usually associated with blood and passion. Red has become the show’s signature color. The song, which was sung by Italian anti-fascist partisans in World War II, has become the anthem. It was first sung when Moscow hits dirt in the Mint of Spain and the whole cast erupts in a euphoric celebration in season 1.
It’s later juxtaposed with a somber rendition by the Professor and his brother, Berlin, which allows the song to take on new and deeper meaning. It eventually becomes synonymous with being the symbol of the resistance and rebellion against the government. The song is being sung all over the world during protests, riots, and more.
Bella Ciao – ‘Money Heist’ Confirms Fifth and Final Season on Netflix
“The heist comes to an end.”
That’s the message posted on the official La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) Twitter account.
It confirms what fans have feared — that Netflix’s Spanish-language drama is officially coming to an end after the fifth season. It’s also a confirmation that the series has been renewed for a fifth season, which was a given not only because of the show’s massive success but also considering Alvaro Morte (the Professor) posted a photo that production on the season was underway.
— La Casa de Papel (@lacasadepapel) July 31, 2020
Entertainment Weekly reports the series will officially begin production on Monday in Denmark before venturing to Spain and Portugal.
The season will wrap up the ongoing heist at the Bank of Spain, which is where season 4 left off.
The eight-episode fourth season, which premiered in April, ended with the robbers inside the bank losing a critical member of the team as the Professor is ambushed by the former police inspector, Alicia Sierra, who has gone rogue.
According to Pop Culture, series creator, Alex Pina, said the series will be “moving from a chess game — a mere intellectual strategy — to a war strategy: attack and contention” in the final installment.
He also went on to say it’s the “most epic” yet, which is hard to believe since every season has been epic, thrilling, and full of anxiety.
“Adrenaline is within Money Heist‘s DNA. Every thirty seconds things take place and disrupt the characters, a turn of the screw to the action. The adrenaline mixed with feelings arising from absolutely complex, magnetic, unforeseeable characters will continue until the end of the heist to the Bank of Spain,” Pina said. “However, the gang will now be pushed into irreversible situations, into a wild war: it is the most epic part of all the parts we’ve shot.”
The first four seasons are available for streaming. You can also watch the documentary, which is equally as thrilling and informative as the series!
This isn’t the first time the show has said goodbye. While season 3 and 4 are “Netflix Originals,” the series initially aired on a free, local channel in Spain where it didn’t get much love and was cancelled after season 2. Netflix ended up putting the show on its service, and it began to gain momentum through word of mouth. As its popularity grew, it was hard for Netflix to ignore what millions of people worldwide were now aware of — the show was fantastic. And thus, they commissioned additional seasons!
Fast-forward to today, and Money Heist is one of Netflix’s most successful shows. The fourth season drew in over 60 million viewers making the show more watched than Tiger King and the top watched non-English show. It was also one of the most-watched shows during the coronavirus quarantine!
Goodbyes are never easy, especially when it comes to a show that has captivated the nation, but it’s better to say “ciao” now while the show is still in its prime. We wouldn’t want it to overstay its welcome, and the chances of them getting out alive and pulling off another heist are slim to none.
Money Heist: Who Is Alicia Sierra and How Is She Connected to the Professor and the Overall Heist?
There’s no shortage of intriguing and enigmatic characters on Netflix’s Money Heist (La Casa de Papel), but season 3 of the crime drama introduced fans to Alicia Sierra (Najwa Nimri), lead police investigator in the Bank of Spain heist, and quite frankly, the most puzzling character to date.
Sierra is an exciting and worthy replacement for former police inspector Raquel Murillo aka Lisbon, who left her policing days behind to join the Professor’s merry band of robbers following their first heist at the Royal Mint.
With a lollipop in hand, Sierra is ready to stop the robbery of the bank in its tracks and finally bring the criminals to justice. Her actions and decisions bring a new level of unpredictability to the series, which makes her a worthy opponent for the Professor. Raquel played by his rules, but Sierra has figured out his rules and kept up with them… almost too well.
She’s in it to win it, and prior to her introduction, we hadn’t seen anyone who was equally as cunning as the Professor.
She’s defined by her brutality; while others would shudder at the thought of using family members as leverage, she’s overjoyed to cross the line on multiple occasions including when she uses Nairobi’s son and Raquel’s ailing mother to manipulate them.
Sierra isn’t just crazy good at her job, she’s simply crazy… and that allows her to go head-to-head with the Professor, with or without the support of law enforcement. She’s a sociopath, in her own way, that’s equally as complex, ruthless, intelligent, and confident as both the Professor and Berlin.
There are also many parallels between her and Raquel as they’ve both been outsmarted by the Professor on a few occasions, they both lost the support of their team while working the heist investigations, they were both turned into scapegoats for agency, and they both used their instinct to successfully hunt the Professor down.
But there’s a key difference that sets Sierra apart from Raquel — she’s not in love with the Professor.
Raquel pursued the Professor, but she was also blinded by love. The trust they developed when she didn’t know who he truly was made it easier for her to understand that, though flawed, his intentions behind the heist were noble.
Sierra, on the other hand, was motivated to find the Professor to finish a job. She never once lost sight of the prize, and one could say her dedication to the job and capturing the bad guys has been fueling and motivating her.
The dramatic season 4 cliffhanger, which ended with Sierra finding the Professor’s hideout and ambushing him by pointing a gun at his head, proves we’ll dig deeper into her character come season 5.
She may have the upper-hand as things stand now, but there’s a huge chance the Professor will manipulate and outsmart her while giving us some much-needed background about her.
The vagueness about Sierra’s villainous character has drawn much attention from fans who are theorizing how she’ll play into the storyline moving forward.
All we know for certain is that she and Raquel attended police training together, her husband died a few months ago due to cancer (we don’t even know who German is or if he’s important to the story), and that she’s pregnant (and even that’s questionable).
The thought that Sierra may be faking her pregnancy crossed my mind while binge-watching the series.
Even before Sierra was roped into leading the investigation at the Bank of Spain, she was responsible for inhumanely torturing Rio through illegal tactics such as waterboarding and burying him alive.
Much of her actions indicate that she doesn’t have much of a maternal bone in her body, and it’s possible that she’s faking her pregnancy to gain sympathy from the public in the instance that her sadistic actions come to light.
The sympathy card has worked on many occasions for the Professor and his robbers, and realistically, we’re all less likely to judge a pregnant woman’s action. It could be the reason why the agency attempted to place the blame solely on her when the Professor exposed their torture tactics on a civilian.
There have also been other moments where Sierra is seen smoking, gorging on junk food, and drinking caffeine. All of that compounded with the stress of the job cannot be good for a woman in such an advanced pregnancy.
One could chalk this up to personal quirks and Sierra’s unhealthy coping mechanisms, or, it could be a huge red flag that the pregnancy isn’t real. Don’t even get me started about the stamina needed to spend hours interrogating someone or hunting down the Professor without any assistance.
There’s an added level of suspense to having a pregnant maniac in charge — especially so far along in the pregnancy — because the audience is always wondering when she’ll go into labor.
The most likely (and predictable) scenario lends itself to Sierra going into labor while pointing the gun at the Professor. It would catch her off guard, put her at a disadvantage, and force her to rely on the Professor to help her give birth. It would also allow the Professor to regain control of the situation.
Even though he has some of the most meticulously thought-out plans that anticipate every possible outcome, luck has a tendency of working in his favor.
But that’s the key to all of this — anticipation. The Professor has played out every possible scenario in his head. Even the ones that have taken him by surprise have, at some point, crossed his mind, so it’s unlikely that he’d be careless enough to leave behind a trail leading directly back to him.
If Raquel was able to find his first hideout, the chances are high that he would consider that another agent, one that isn’t blinded by love and is more cutthroat than Raquel, would be able to track him down, too.
Not to mention the Professor also has an advantage this time around because Raquel knows Sierra personally and can predict how she’d act in certain situations.
By making Rio’s torture private, he could’ve anticipated that the agency would try to save face by placing the blame on Sierra, like they did with Raquel, and thus, figured she would seek him out. It’s entirely possible that the license plate and the footage of him threatening a cop that led Sierra to him was all part of the plan.
He laid the breadcrumbs and she fell into his trap thinking it was a victory. Maybe she’s a necessary part of the plan to help the gang escape from the Bank of Spain alive and with the gold?
Alvaro Morte Teases the Professor’s Return on Set of ‘La Casa de Papel’ Season 5
He’s back…. and wearing a face mask!
If you were concerned about the fate of Money Heist (La Casa de Papel), don’t be because despite Netflix not officially renewing the series for a fifth season (yet!), it’s definitely happening.
In fact, it seems like production on the Spanish-language series has already started despite the worldwide coronavirus pandemic shutting down most TV show and film productions.
In the photo, you can see his reflection — complete with a disposable face mask — s he enters “stage 2.” The show logo can be seen in the lower right hand corner.
There was never any question about the Professor’s survival despite the cliffhanger, which found Alicia Sierra, the former police investigator on the Bank of Spain heist, locating his hideout and pointing a gun at him as she declares, “checkmate.”
If we’ve learned anything these past few seasons, it’s that the criminal mastermind always has a plan even when things don’t go his way or he’s caught off-guard. Sierra is a worthy opponent who has the potential of messing things up for him, but he always gets things back on track because of his dedication to his Robin Hood-esque group of robbers. And now that Lisbon is inside the Bank of Spain, there’s no way he’s letting anyone mess it up for him!
The chances of the series not getting picked up were slim considering season 4 garnered 65 million viewers in the first four weeks beating out the massively successful and viral, Tiger King. It’s also the most-watch non-English speaking show on the streaming platform. Not to mention it was one of the top-viewed shows during COVID!
If production is underway then maybe there’s a chance we’ll get season 5 in time for Christmas? Wouldn’t that be a great way to top off the year?
Maybe now that Morte has confirmed that he’s back at work, Netflix can officially confirm season 5?
Want more Money Heist content? Here’s everything we learned about the series from the documentary, Money Heist: The Phenomenon.
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